Professors deserve honor too

By Kyle Simpson | Staff Columnist

Honors Week is always one of my favorite weeks of the school year here at The University of Alabama. For one thing, the weather is always outstanding – I frequently find myself driving the long way home on University Boulevard just so I can catch a glimpse of the Quad and the bright green sea of manicured grass and blooming trees that envelop the street. It’s easy to be in a good mood as the days get longer, sounds of music from fraternity houses fill the air on the weekends, and I can finally begin putting away those winter clothes for good. And we get a free Friday with no class to boot!

Honors Week is also the time of year that I’m reminded how amazing some of the students at The University of Alabama. If you’ve been to one of the many ceremonies or banquets that take place during honors week, you likely know this feeling – the accomplishments of some of our peers astound me! Certainly, outstanding students and the future leaders of our society are the center of the focus of Honors Week, as they should be. But as I took in the sights, sounds and events of last week, I couldn’t help but think of the people that helped us get to where we are. Students are the focus of Honors Week, as they should be, but we would be remiss if we did not recognize the role that teachers, professors, advisors and other University faculty played in the wellspring of academic success that is celebrated every April.

It’s easy, sometimes, to take out our frustrations on teachers, to call their assignments unreasonable, their grading procedures unfair or their high demands excessive. It’s not uncommon to overhear students complaining about their latest assignment, longing for the day that they never have to return to that particular class. But for every headache or late night that a professor may cause, there is a student whose perspective is changed, or a student who realizes his or her potential or passion. Time and time again, I have had teachers who work far outside of their job description to be engaging, helpful and passionate about their teaching, and I’m positive that without these people guiding the way, we would have far less to celebrate during Honors Week.

To form an opinion on a teacher based on an aggregate Internet rating or anecdotal evidence from a friend is to do them an extreme disservice; the stereotype of college professors being lazy or uninterested in students is, in my experience, the opposite of the truth. Any difficulty I’ve had in a class here at the University has been entirely a function of my own mistakes, not the lack of trying of a professor. I am continually amazed at the high level and thoughtfulness put into lectures, class content and lesson plans by my professors, who are usually involved in extensive and successful research or laboratory work outside of the classroom.

As we reflect on the success and quality of the students here at The University of Alabama one week post-Honors Week, I encourage you to also think about another essential building block of the University – the hardworking and brilliant faculty that make these academic endeavors possible. As the University grows in size and influence, the role of our teachers continues to impress me and make me proud to attend Alabama, just as the actions of my peers do. 

Kyle Simpson is a junior majoring in biology. His column runs weekly.

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