Written by Michelle Lu
Students wonder a lot about their professors. In most of our minds, they are these enigmas of creatures who excel in subjects about which we know almost nothing. In class, they try to spread the wealth and share some of what they know with us. However, we’re left to wonder: what do they do outside of class? What do they think about outside of their job? Perhaps most importantly, what do they think of us? At the first-ever HBA organized “Ask Me Anything” panel on March 22nd, we found out.
We were fortunate to have in attendance Robert Prentice, LEB 323H and Director of BHP; Prabhudev Konana, MIS 301H; JJ Riekenberg, BA 324H; James Scott, STA 371H; Uttarayan Bagchi, OM 335H; Y Sekou Bermiss, MAN 336H and Bill Peterson, MKT 337H.
With a mix of anonymously submitted Google form questions and live hand-raising, all of students’ deepest inquiries were sure to be answered. Questions started out soft, such as favorite restaurants (Dr. Bermiss and Dr. Konana have the same – Titaya’s!) and each’s behavior in high school (Dr. Peterson overcame a speech impediment and extreme shyness, while Dr. Prentice described himself as “vividly clueless,” almost passing out the first time he asked a girl out.) We discovered that Dr. Bagchi bites his nails (to which Dr. Konana leans over and inspects Bagchi’s hands, yelling “I’m checking!”) and that in another life, JJ would love to be a pilot.
In a flurry of fun facts, we learned that Dr. Prentice considers himself to be the world’s worst dancer, and Dr. Bagchi almost drowned in the Dead Sea. Dr. Scott reveals that he has a hidden talent of juggling – and much to the delight of students, demonstrates with breakfast tacos! Perhaps most unexpectedly, Dr. Konana said, “if any of my friends knew I was a professor now, they would laugh,” and in the 7th grade, JJ was dubbed “the worst speaker [her teacher had] ever seen in her life.”
On a more serious note, professors were asked what they hope students will take away from their class that they worry they aren’t getting. Dr. Konana emphasized the meaninglessness of money in success. Dr. Peterson discussed the importance of persuasive speaking. Dr. Prentice described the tendency of BHP students to start off valuing prestige and positions and only later remembering to “have a meaningful life,” while Dr. Bermiss simply states, “that Myers-Briggs is bad.”
One student asked for their biggest regrets; Dr. Scott quips, “this is like psychotherapy.” Dr. Bagchi wishes he’d traveled more at a younger age, while many reminisce that they lost touch with old friends. Full of jokes, Dr. Prentice states that his is actually that he lost touch with his hair. As the panel continued, it was clear how much professors care about their classes and students. In response to “What keeps you up at night?”, many answered that it’s coming up with new things to teach us. They were also in consensus that they are frustrated with technology’s influence, and its effect on the attention we pay to assigenments.
Getting back to the light-hearted questions, we found out that Dr. Scott has been thanked in the dedication of a book called Statistics Gone Wrong, Dr. Peterson has a heartwarming love story with his wife, and Dr. Bermiss listens to gospel music before teaching a class, and “ratchet” hip hop when he’s alone. All in all, students switched between howling in laughter, eagerly anticipating the next answer, and shooting their hands up for a question of their own. Professors even felt that they’d gotten to know each other on a deeper level, and were glad that they were able to show students this side of them!
Other notable findings from the event:
- Prentice hates going to Europe for the sheer reason of an unavailability of Diet Coke. Once, he packed and checked a suitcase full of Diet Coke when going there.
- Konana wants us all to know that he’s not on Facebook as much as we think he is.
- Once, while teaching a pricing class, Dr. Peterson publicly lost a game show about pricing.
- JJ’s bad habit is “an impressive array of colorful language.”
- A vivid student memory of Dr. Bagchi’s is being bear-hugged by current senior and Peer Mentor Humza Tariq.
- Bermiss has been on SportsCenter “for all the wrong reasons.”
- Scott considers convincing his wife to marry him his greatest achievement. “That makes two of us,” says Dr. Prentice, “mine is also convincing his wife to marry me.”
Be sure to stop by any professor’s office hours to ask them any lingering questions!