7 Famous People Teaching Courses This Year
Last week we told you about some of the celebrity professors who have turned up on college campuses in the past. Today, let’s take a look at some big names who are going to be sharing their intellects and experiences with students during the current academic year.
1. Elie Wiesel
The Nobel Peace Prize winner, Holocaust survivor, and author of Night just announced that he was accepting a five-year term as a Distinguished Presidential Fellow at Orange County’s Chapman University. Wiesel, who is also on faculty at Boston University, will be doing a bit of everything at Chapman. When the school announced his appointment, it said the writer would lecture in Holocaust history classes but could potentially dabble in history, French, religion, and literature courses as well.
2. Steve Miller
The leader of the Steve Miller Band isn’t just going to be blasting through students’ speakers at the University of Southern California this fall. Miller is beginning a term as an instructor and artist in residence at USC’s Thornton School of Music. In addition to teaching undergraduate classes about popular music and the music industry, Miller will also force the campus’ musicians to nerd out when he gives workshops on topics like guitar tone.
3. Alberto Gonzales
Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ stint at the helm of the Justice Department was a rocky one, but for the last year he has been serving in a slightly less embattled capacity as a visiting professor at Texas Tech. Gonzales teaches a junior-level seminar course in political science entitled “Contemporary Issues in the Executive Branch” in addition to helping recruit underrepresented minorities to campus.
We weren’t kidding when we said his time at Texas Tech has only been slightly less embattled than his turn at the Justice Department. Gonzales’ hiring last year caused a brief firestorm around campus when his $100,000 salary struck some observers as excessive, but the school’s administration rebutted those claims by explaining Gonzales’ pay was comparable to that of other professors. (Maybe not quite. The New York Times later pointed out that Gonzales’ pay was roughly 55 times higher than the national average on a per-course basis.) Many fellow faculty members also weren’t so keen on Gonzales’ perceived position on authorizing and condoning torture, and 90 of them signed an unsuccessful petition to have Gonzales’ appointment rescinded.
4. Bun B
The Houston-based rapper and former member of UGK will be teaching a class at Rice this spring. Bun B won’t be teaching students how to write rhymes, though; he’s a distinguished guest lecturer with a class entitled Religion and Hip Hop Culture in America. Bun B’s comments in an NPR interview last month made the course sound pretty interesting. He explained, “We'll be reflecting on the nature and content of hip hop as a religious experience…we’ll discuss the history of rap music and find the different parallels and correlations between religion and hip hop.”
5. Alvaro Uribe
The former Colombian president joined the faculty of Georgetown’s school of foreign service last month after resigning from his old post on August 7. According to the university, Uribe will serve as a distinguished scholar who gives seminars and discusses international issues with faculty.
6. Ferran Adria
Famed Catalan chef Adria is beginning a term as a teacher at Harvard this fall. He’s not just teaching any old cooking course, either. Adria will bring his unique take on molecular gastronomy to the School of Engineering and Applied Science when he teaches a course on culinary physics. The course will use Adria’s cooking to illuminate soft matter physics to students. He’ll be getting some delicious help from his friends, too; Adria is bringing in 12 celebrity chefs like Wylie Dufresne to help spice up his lectures.
7. Todd Rundgren
Musician Todd Rundgren will be all over Indiana University this fall. Next weekend he’s playing two of his albums (Todd and Healing) in an on-campus concert, and in later October and November he’ll be around for a two-week gig as a visiting scholar. According to reports, Rundgren will give at least one lecture to students and give a small concert on Halloween.