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How Students View Their Professors...

Edith Douds, Ph.D., chair of the French department and assistant professor of English

The course in English Literature covered six different themes. At the end of each, Edith required her students to write an essay which included their thoughts on the subject. Based on the student’s creativity, she would select the best and then require the students to present their essay to the other students in the classroom.

You, therefore, were challenged not only to read and write, but also to speak on the subject. By her critical thinking and commentary presented on the returned essays, you received personal recognition from her and your classmates. It was a great way of learning and building relationships outside your field of learning.

Edith was a very proud Southern lady. She was interesting and beautiful in so many ways. Her relationships with other writers she met while studying in Paris left a lasting impression. Her personal friendship with William Faulkner also impressed me.   

Edith loved words and shared them. She found the Slavic language to be the most difficult to learn. She invited me to her office once to write the “Our Father” in Polish. We had a wonderful hour together. I found Edith to be one of the most gracious, generous, and loving motivators I ever had the privilege of meeting.

The tree placed near Memorial Chapel to honor her as a “friend to trees and students” is a living tribute to her; so is her home, a gift to the college. Take good care of them as she took good care of us. I shall always remember her as a dear friend.

- Stanley Janikowski ’52

The Rev. William Marlow ’49, associate professor of religion

He was interesting and interested. He was funny and fair. He could understand what one was trying to say, but had a way of making his point without offending the student’s opinions. He lived his convictions, and strove to make the student understand the material. He was supportive and caring, but did not give away good grades. He made the students work for what they received.

- Karen N. Graeff, RN, ’93

Eugene Barth, Ph.D. ’37, professor of religion and philosophy

He was my favorite Albright prof for the simple reason that he taught me how to question the "unquestionable;" i.e., to THINK, not regurgitate facts. Something few professors at that time were trained or inclined to do.

I recall the first day in his ethics class when, after having briefly discussed Plato, he assigned the class the following simple homework assignment: “What’s incoherent in Plato’s world theory”? I thought... “Whaaaaat, THE Plato incoherent”? I, like most of my sophomorish classmates, had been raised to revere and accept the views of great thinkers... not question them. I was a science major and had elected to take Barth’s philosophy course... for “fun.” Little did I realize at the time that what I had learned in his class paid dividends not only in my science career, but in every endeavor I’ve ever made. To hold nothing in awe a priori, to qualify the credentials and thoughts of everyone, to realize that everything is open to interrogation, to search for the hidden inconsistencies, etc.

Barth was one of the few nonscience majors who got an A in Marcus Green’s difficult anatomy class (if my memory serves), and I was proud as a peacock when I got an A in Barth’s class.

Barth displayed a congeniality and sense of humor that was infectious. He knew the first name of each of his students and loved to brainstorm over coffee with them in the old one-room student union. So what if, on occasion, he was a few minutes late for his next class. I reckoned the time had been well spent... teaching another Albrightian how to THINK!

- Mike Shalter ’64

Guillaume de Syon, Ph.D., associate professor of history

I had Professor G for a Holocaust Studies course. The class was intriguing and fascinating from day one and was my favorite course in my four years at Albright. Professor G was always there if you had a question and went out of his way to make sure you understood everything.

He even took the class on a field trip to the National Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. The Holocaust is such an important part of worldwide history and something that must never be forgotten. Professor G and his course have left an everlasting mark on me. 

- Brian Okum ’05

Susan Seidenstricker, Ed.D., associate professor of education, and Helen Hamlet, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology

I met Dr. Seidenstricker during my sophomore year at Albright. She was going to be my adviser and a professor for several courses. We met to discuss my spring schedule. Over the next two and a half years, I had the pleasure of having her for a few classes. One thing I remember most about her was her constant encouragement. During my student teaching semester, she went out to “Piggers” with a couple friends and me to help us get through the very stressful times. I’ll never forget her caring personality. 

Dr. Hamlet was my other favorite professor. Unfortunately, she wasn’t at Albright for very long, but her impact was huge! I had Dr. Hamlet for two courses, “Child Psychopathology” and “Senior Seminar on Career Counseling.” Outside of class was where Dr. Hamlet made the biggest impact. She took time out of her busy schedule to help me with some personal problems as well as develop my philosophy of education. 

- Brooke Hall ’03

Donald Daniel, Ph.D., professor of biology

His teaching style was so energetic you had to love what he was teaching because he seemed so passionate about it. If he thought you were sleeping or not paying attention, you could be sure a piece of chalk would be coming your way via air. He really cared about his students and he was always a good sport during Spring Fever Weekend, when we would sabotage his office with plates of whipped cream. His passion for teaching, his sense of humor, and his ability to interact well with the students are reasons why I will always remember him as one of my favorite professors.

- Lynda (Kline) Wolfe ’80

William Bishop Jr., professor of history

He became my adviser and friend after my freshman year. Not only was he my honors adviser for four classes, but he was the most interesting professor at Albright with his British history courses. He and his wife Jane attended my wedding to Steve ’68 on April 3, 1971, in Philadelphia. Whenever I had a problem, personal or academic, he would sit with me and give me sound advice and I know that he really cared. At times the advice was as if he was talking to one of his daughters, not just some history major. I used to say he was my Mr. Chips as he reminded me of Robert Donat and later Peter O'Toole in “Goodbye, Mr. Chips.” 

For many years we wrote to each other and kept in touch. He supported me and gave me advice when I was working on my doctorate in history at Temple. I was so sorry and just sat and cried when I saw his obituary in The Reporter. I know that he had an influence on me and the person I have become.

- Andee Finkelstein Losben ’71

Patricia Snyder, Ph.D. ’70, professor of psychology

I was so fortunate to have her as an adviser. I think I took every class she taught! She is a dynamic speaker, fair grader, interesting person, and all around wonderful professor and woman. I learned so much from her. Not just about psychology, but about women’s issues as well. She really helped me work on my fear of public speaking, which has been an invaluable skill. Her office was always open if I needed to talk… and not just about what classes to take.
- Julie (Berk) Mackey’97

Eugene Barth, Ph.D. ’37, professor of religion and philosophy

He was an excellent instructor who taught philosophy and religion. In religion I learned about all the major religions of the world. In philosophy he influenced me on the way I live my life to this day, 50 years later – honestly, fairly and judiciously. He treated every student as an individual with respect and good will. He was a special man among men.

- Lois Mednick Stanley ’56

Patricia Snyder, Ph.D. ’70, professor of psychology

I always respected Dr. Snyder for believing in women’s rights and for being herself no matter what others thought. She never discouraged me from achieving my goals, as other professionals had done. When no one else seemed to understand my goals, she was always there to help me think of ways to achieve them. Thanks to her help I graduated magna cum laude and did it in three years, just as I strived to do! 

- DeNere Postell ’05

Janet Gehres ’54, assistant professor of biology

There are many health professionals out there who owe their entry into professional school to Professor Janet Gehres. Of all the fine professors I had while at Albright, Professor Gehres was simply the best. My first year in dental school was a breeze, thanks to the mauling she gave me while at Albright. That neurosurgeon working at your local ER could very well have learned their first neuroanatomy lesson in JG’s A&P class. Tough as nails, but what a great lady! As we say in the Navy, “I hope she has had fair winds, and following seas!”

- Gary F. Woerz, DMD’83

Thomas Brogan, Ph.D., professor of political science

He truly inspired me to experience all that life had to offer. When he took a sabbatical in my junior year, I remember all the seniors in the Political Science Department were quite distressed. When he returned and my senior seminar class started, I began to appreciate why they were so unhappy. Dr. Brogan managed to bring whatever topic we were studying to life. I remember clearly both learning and integrating some of the most intriguing information that I had ever been exposed to— at the ripe old age of 21.
- Karen Vail Widin ’80

Paul Speicher, associate professor of mathematics and physics

He was always ready to help any student who needed special counseling. He put his trust in his class whenever he gave an announced or unannounced test. He usually left the room after starting the test and returned near the end of the time to complete the test. His favorite saying was “you may not always know the answer but you must know where to find it.”

- Howard Brenner ’51

Charles Kistler, Ph.D., professor of history

He made history my favorite subject of study and a lifetime interest. His doctorate in history was from Indiana University. He secured a fellowship for me there at The Indiana University Graduate School of Business—with the late noted economist Dr. Robert Turner. I received my MBA from Indiana University in 1956.

- Daniel W. Ebling ’55

To pick a favorite professor is tough. I had so many good ones at Albright, among them:

  1. Marcus Green, Ph.D., for his brilliant sardonic wit and mastery of his subject
  2. Eugene Barth, Ph.D., for his daring to force us students to question even great thinkers such as Aristotle and Kant
  3. Edwin Bell, Ph.D., for his gentle way and attention to detail
  4. John Hall, Ph.D., for his love of and devotion to research
  5. Edith Douds, Ph.D., for having instilled in me a love of things French (I’ve lived in France for the past quarter century!)
  6. And especially, Charles Kistler, Ph.D., for turning history into something vibrant and relevant, and, much more, for having the faith in me and encouraging me to pursue graduate studies, when no one else thought I would or could. If it hadn’t been for Charley Kistler, I wouldn’t have received a doctorate or been elected to Who’s Who in American Men and Women of Science.

- Michael Shalter, Ph.D. ’64

F. Wilbur Gingrich, Ph.D., professor of Greek

It is because of him that I love words.

-- Steve “Nic” Nicolo ’59

Paul Speicher, associate professor of mathematics and physics

I was in the five-year engineering program and attended Albright from 1954 to 1957 and then went to The Pennsylvania State University for the last two years.

Professor Speicher was an excellent and thorough math teacher. He insisted on neatness in your homework and test work. Neatness was a definite factor in determining your grade. When I transferred to PSU, I found how fortunate I was to have had a professor like Professor Speicher to teach me math at the college level. I found that my math abilities were far ahead of most of the engineering students in my classes at PSU. In fact, I elected to take a graduate math course in advanced partial differential equations in my last semester at PSU. Thanks to Professor Speicher, this was a very enjoyable course.

After 44 years in industry working in the engineering and management fields, I retired, and again thanks to Professor Speicher, I began to tutor students in math from several of the nearby high schools. I also served as a substitute teacher in all the math courses at both of the BCTC facilities in Berks County for the last four years. I believe that my enjoyment of math is for the most part due to the excellent teaching I received from Professor Speicher.

-- James D. Rhoads ’58

Barbara Fahy, Ph.D., professor of history

Her classes were exciting and she is an excellent story teller. It was great to hear about the history surrounding the works of art, the political and religious influences, as well as the families who commissioned the works and the techniques for creating the art. I remember that her classes were always ones that I enjoyed. It was very rewarding many years later to travel to Italy and get to see firsthand the art and architecture that I had studied during my years at Albright.

-- Annemarie Wimalasena ’94

John R. Pankratz, Ph.D., professor of history, and Donald Daniel, Ph.D., professor of biology

Professor Pankratz was always willing to help a student out with projects, and was a great teacher as well.

In the Science Department, Dr. Daniel was a great teacher and had a sense of humor, which I believe is important for a teacher to have. My father (Gary Shugar) went to Albright, had Dr. Daniel as a professor and later got to teach with him. My dad always shared stories about Dr. Daniel’s classes and how much fun they were. I later had him for two classes and found out for myself just how good a teacher he was. I remember that Dr. Daniel was always trying to get me to smile. So, every time he saw me he would say, “Smile,” and it would work. I would always smile.

- Becky (Shugar) Hughes ’00

F. Wilbur Gingrich, Ph.D., professor of Greek; William Marlow ’49, associate professor of religion; and Annadora Shirk, Ph.D., professor of English 

These people were deeply involved, not only in their educational task, but also in the lives of the students. They went out of their way to make education not only a matter of the mind, but of the heart and soul of those of us who took their courses. In many ways these professors displayed their deep conviction to education, their faith, and to the well-being of their students. Completely dependable, we could always count on these professors for sound instruction, excellent advice, and a willingness to go far beyond what their positions required of them. They were very instrumental in providing me with the solid foundation that led to a very fulfilling and satisfying career.

-- The Rev. Dr. Thomas E. Herrold ’64

Consuelo Rodriguez Jordan, professor of Spanish

If it had not been for Señora Jordan, I probably would have fulfilled my college language requirement and never spoken Spanish again. As a freshman in 1955, I planned to become a history teacher, but I ended up teaching Spanish for 31 years.

In that pre-placement test era, when two years of high school language was considered to be the equivalent of one year of college language, I was in a Spanish II class. Señora Jordan decided I was not in the right class and moved me to a higher level and into a class on literature and culture. It was conducted entirely in Spanish. I came from the grammar-translation style of language learning, so the class was a struggle for me, but Señora gave me much encouragement and instilled in me a love of the language and the culture. A half-century ago it was not common for a teenager to study or travel abroad, so the only total immersion experiences we had were through Señora Jordan, who provided situations where we had to interact in the language—discussions, fiestas, trips to New York with her and her husband. 

My first job was as a history teacher who could also teach a class of Spanish, but after two years I began to teach only Spanish. Three years after that I left this area to teach in Long Island because I couldn’t see any future for Spanish in Berks County (how wrong I was!). I studied and traveled in many Spanish-speaking countries, keeping in touch with Mrs. Jordan until she died in the 1990s.

-- Ruth Shaffer ’59

Ray Mest ’62, professor of mathematics

Ray Mest was different from many of my other professors because he was a true teacher. He had a knack for looking into the eyes of his math students when he was teaching a lesson and reading whether we understood him. Then he would say, let me explain it another way. He would explain things using different methods until he recognized from our expressions and comments that we truly understood the material. If his students didn’t understand something he made it his challenge to do a better job, not ours. In very high level math courses, many topics are very complicated to understand, and I really appreciated his patience with me and my classmates.

He was a caring professor. He was warm, friendly and fun to be around. He didn't just teach math but also coached golf. He took the extra time to talk to his students, ask them questions about their lives, and let them know he cared about them.

And, he wanted us to succeed. He went the extra mile, offered his home number and even stopped in on an evening or weekend for extra tutoring if one of his students was confused about something before a test.

Ray Mest liked to teach at 8 a.m. and I hated getting up for 8 a.m. classes. But he was worth it. I took every math class he taught because I knew I could really learn from him and succeed in his classes.

He was a great professor and a true symbol of the caring link between Albright professors and students that makes Albright such a special place.

-- Michelle Hnath ’87

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