It’s really no surprise at all

In the upcoming issue of Madison magazine, which will hit mailboxes and newsstands next month, the subject of the regular and award-winning feature, “Professors you love,” is an individual who does not necessarily come to mind when thinking “professor.” He’s held a different job at the university — actually several different jobs  — over the past few decades.  The author of the essay, Paula Polglase (’92, ’96M), a public affairs associate in the JMU communications and marketing office, wrote this about her former professor:

“And, he brought the music. I had never had a class that started with music each week. [He] had the smallest, most powerful speakers I’d ever heard and started class each week with jazz, or The Little Mermaid soundtrack or classical selections — he surprised us. In fact, one week when he had to be away we didn’t quite know how to get started — there was no music.”

Jim Hartman (’70), rector of the board of visitors, recently said about this same professor: “He loves to teach. Not a lot of people know that about him, but he really enjoys teaching.”

It’s really no surprise at all for a professor at JMU to love teaching as much as students love their many professors. Neither is the newest Princeton Review‘s ranking of the best American professors. JMU  had the second highest number of “best” professors in a list that included some from venerable institutions like William and Mary, MIT, Harvey Mudd and some Ivies.

Why is it no surprise? Because since 1908 the art and science of teaching — the love of mentoring students — has been a top priority at the university. Even over the past 15 years as JMU’s enrollment swelled, the quality of teaching — and perhaps most importantly — the institutional commitment to excellent teaching has remained as solid and foundational as the Quad’s Bluestone. One affirming statistic is that while enrollment increased 37 percent, the faculty to student ratio decreased to 16:1.

Because teaching is important, students are front and center. Every day JMU professors change their students’ lives by closely mentoring student learners. That’s why it’s not surprising that the Princeton Review list included not one or two, but 11 JMU faculty members. Here they are:

Kenn Barron, psychology
David Bernstein, computer science
David B. Daniel, psychology
Kimberly D.R. DuVall, psychology
Stephen W. Guerrier, history
Larry R. Huffman, education
Raymond “Skip” Hyser, history
David Jaynes, biology
Scott B. Lewis, chemistry
Paul Warne, mathematics
William C. Wood, economics

As for that one professor Paula wrote about, well, I guess you’ll have to wait for Madison magazine to find out who it is.

To read about more the professors students have loved, visit

Or you can check out the virtual edition of Madison magazine’s 10th anniversary edition of Professors You love here

Our thanks to Chris Arndt, JMU professor of history, for letting us know about the list.

About James Madison University
This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

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