In Response to ‘A Signed Professor Evaluation’

By Guest Contributor

This piece is in response to Michelle Smoler’s ’13 “A Signed Professor Evaluation.” The professor to whom she refers advised our senior theses as well, but our experiences were so different that we felt compelled to respond to her evaluation.

At the beginning of the academic year, our adviser took on the task of advising both of us without ever having met us before. At that time, we spoke at length about our project proposals, and he set out clear expectations. Since he agreed to advise us, he has been a true partner throughout this intensive academic pursuit. He gave us significant latitude to set the direction of our projects, but was also able to provide immense guidance in areas where we were less comfortable. He provided structure throughout the process, directed us through the literature and methods of a more complex project than either of us had previously undertaken, and provided positive and constructive feedback.

While we agree that he is an outstanding academic, we dispute the characterization that he is not also an outstanding educator: his steadfast guidance, kind advice, and — above all — the incredible amount of work he put into his advisory role shaped both our theses and our learning experiences throughout the process. Each of us left our many meetings feeling both encouraged and optimistic, as well as with a sense of purpose and focus for our respective projects.

In our view, our adviser completely understood his role as educator, adviser, guide and supporter. Our experiences could not have differed more with the experience Michelle describes. Working with our thesis adviser was an unparalleled academic and personal experience for both of us.