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Weird professors.

That’s the two-word suggestion I had written on a list of column ideas from almost 20 years ago. My husband found the list on notebook paper when we were cleaning out boxes in the garage.

In my notes, I had asked co-workers about their strangest college teachers. One woman said she had a female teacher who came in wearing coveralls with grease on them because she was a part-time auto mechanic. My notes said, “Get more details,” but I guess I didn’t.

My husband — who is a nice, normal(ish) person — teaches college journalism. From what I gather by talking to his students, he’s pretty beloved. He does wear themed socks — everything from holidays to a pair with an actual picture of our cat’s face — but I think they find that wonderfully wacky, not weird.

He told me about a professor he had in college who had an Amish beard, wore big round thick glasses and was “kinda spacey and goofy.” He was not a horrible teacher, my husband said, but “he was kind of unusual.”

Someone else in my family had a professor who talked to himself during class and would say things like, “Oh, that didn’t go over well,” when he made a joke no one laughed at. And I think that happened a lot.

Another person who had this professor wrote about him on Rate My Professor, a website where college students, well, rate their professors: “He is insane. His lectures sound like nonsense after listening to them for more than two minutes. He gets off subject easily, is super unclear about assignments and talks through the entirety of every movie you watch in class!”

One of my college roommates described her English teacher as having long stringy hair, bad teeth and smelling like she rarely bathed. Her husband, also a professor, didn’t look much better.

A friend of mine said she remembers one professor who was always picking green onions and sticking them into his pocket. She also recalls a journalism teacher who was such a horrible dresser that one of his students went to a party dressed as him. (Journalists are not known for being fashion-forward, for the most part.)

One of my current co-workers said that his junior year at a big university, he had a weird teacher for essay writing. “She talked about going to bars and reading poetry, kind of like hippies. One day, she closed the door, got out ashtrays, and people lit up cigarettes.”

Well, at least they were just cigarettes.

I heard other stories about professors who brought their personal obsessions to class — singer Bob Dylan and The Hobbit were two.

One teacher wouldn’t make eye contact in class, several students reported on Rate My Professor. One student summed the teacher up like this: “unorganized and difficult to understand her directions. Just overall, a weird teacher that I would do anything in my power to not take again.”

The weird professor who stands out in my mind was a boring history teacher who had armpit stains on all his shirts. It was the only thing I remember about his class.

Another teacher, whom I really liked, taught dance. She was definitely out of the box, though. She was tall and thin, made taller by the 6-inch heels she danced in — effortlessly — and wore wigs, big brooches on her shoulder and a terrarium ring. Thanks to her, I can still clog a little.

Good luck to everyone going back to college. You may have some wonderful teachers; you may have some weird ones. Sometimes, they’re one and the same.

It’s all part of life, and it makes for fun memories.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-5671 or


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