Sherman Ave's Professor of the Year Bracket: First Round Matchups
WEINBERG SCIENCES DIVISION
(1) Renee Engeln vs. (4) Scott Sowerby [expand title="Analysis"]Let’s be real for a second here, guys. You’re about to click the little circle next to Renee. I know you’re going to do it; you know you’re going to do it; your parents know you’re going to do it because you called home after every Psych 110 class to tell them you had finally found your passion. And I’m not telling you not to vote for Renee; she’s a great teacher, and deserving of her popularity (Oh my god, do you remember when she said “shit” in class?! This isn’t high school anymore, guys!). All I’m saying is that I’d never heard of Sowerby before this bracket, but after just some cursory research taking a class with him has jumped to the top of my Northwestern bucket list. I haven’t taken a history class since junior year of high school but he teaches Sex (ha, nice) and Scandal in 17th Century England or something like that and has 5.9+ CTECs for over 50 responses, which is actually ridiculous.
So, without further ado, here is an unbiased assessment of the two to inform your decision:
Best Quote Renee: “I could say penis all day long.” Sowerby: “If they named a drink after Queen Elizabeth, it would have to be a virgin.”
Time Until Their Field Dies Out Renee: 10 years, tops Sowerby: 14 years ago when Wikipedia was invented
Our Best Guess at Their Favorite Ben & Jerry’s Flavor Renee: Coffee Heath Bar Crunch Sowerby: Phish Food (advantage Sowerby)
Last Name a Palindrome? Renee: No Sowerby: No
- Walter Klondike™[/expand]
(2) Mark Witte vs. (3) Eric Zaslow
[expand title="Analysis"]ERIC ZASLOW
"Witte's a chump. He's been cosying up to Sherman Avenue like it was the President of FIFA." Daaaaaaaamn.
That was the opening salvo from Professor Zaslow, who is less than impressed with his opponent. And why should he be? Eriz Zaslow is no mere mortal. Eric Zaslow is a legend. How do I know? When you google search Eric Zaslow's name, it autofills "ultimate." Though perhaps less famous than his match up Mark Witte, Zaslow makes up for it with 31 published papers, 7 Ultimate Frisbee world championship titles, 1 published book (Ultimate Techniques and Tactics) and 1 sick circa-2008 blog where he refers to himself as "the Zazman" (http://zazman.blogspot.com/), for a total of 40 accomplishments that Mark Witte just can't touch. What's more, and this is 100% true, when I reached out to the zazman, he responded with an ALTER EGO who he referred to as ZAE (short for Zaz Alter Ego). With all these different names, it's no surprise we got his name wrong on the original bracket. Sorry Zazman.
Mark Witte is the Hillary Clinton to Zaslow's Bernie Sanders; and by that, I mean Witte has way more name recognition, but we question his use of email.
Though Witte never responded to our requests for comment, by all accounts, he's a dad's dad. Demure, nonthreatening, and chock-full of *Witte* humor, Mark is famous for lulling his 311 Macro class to sleep with his dull-if-not-dulcet voice before shocking them back awake with a B- curve and 1,600 pages of reading. The econ listserve guru, who has gained infamy on yikyak for his midnight tirades and difficult midterms, is a slight favorite to win due to his wide berth of popularity with Northwestern's pre-professional crowd. This isn't a surprise, as Mark "silver fox" Witte is well known for giving being the Econ department head. This means he signs approximately 20% of senior graduation petitions, causing some to worry that Witte has turned to hazing: his resume even proposes "standing the Dunlop-Tashis critique on its head." All in all, Witte is the nicest professor that you wish wasn't responsible for teaching a fucking required class.
- Frank, the Guardian of Pain[/expand] [polldaddy poll="8884334"]
WEINBERG ARTS DIVISION
(1) Gary Saul Morson vs. (4) Michelle Wright
[expand title="Analysis"]It's been over 5 years since the prospect of this highly touted matchup entered the public eye, and in those five years there has been a healthy amount of arguing over ability, money, and drug testing. But now, in 2015 we will finally answer the only question that matters: Who will gain supremacy when these two legends go head to head in the ring?
In what some are calling the “Matchup of the Century,” two Weinberg professors take the ring tonight to determine who truly is one of the top eight professors of all time. Living legends in the field of professorship, Professors Gary Saul Morson and Michelle Wright each have unique strengths that make predicting the outcome difficult. Difficult, but not impossible. Wright is a dynamic offensive fighter with enough creativity that she could do real damage when she throws everything in her arsenal at Morson. Some say that her hand speed and activity level might limit Morson’s output early and sway the judges late. However, Morson knows how to handle himself in the ring very well and, though often criticized for having boring fights, knows how to get opponents to fight at his pace. He will take advantage of this skill. He has great control over his emotions, and could make enough adjustments to sway the judges his way.
My prediction: Morson in a controversial decision.
- Ammonia$ta Dribbling[/expand] [polldaddy poll="8884349"]
(2) Bill Savage vs. (3) Lane Fenrich
In a somewhat-upset (I think. I don’t know), English Literature Professor and inspiration for the 2011 drama We Built a Zoo Bill Savage has advanced from the play-in round. It was probably pretty obvious from my write-up on Savage for last round, but I am not a hapless bystander in this bracket. I put money on Savage, and I went in hard; $250 on 8:1 odds. I am fully aware that the road only gets tougher for Bill “Matt Damon” Savage from here on out. In an attempt to sway the vote in his favor, here are some more random facts about Bill Savage:
- He can draw a building-by-building map of the city of Chicago from memory
- He spends his spare time training wildebeests in a super-secret farm somewhere in southern Wisconsin
- He is the brother of sex columnist Dan Savage (this is actually true), and the son of the 34th President of the United States Dwight David Eisenhower (this is also actually true)
- He co-wrote, with Prince, 80s female pop band The Bangles’ hit song “Manic Monday”
- If you go to his office hours and ask for $7, he’ll give it to you, no strings attached
- Did I mention the Eisenhower thing?
- His favorite color is turquoise, probably
- He always brings a knife to a knife-fight, because that’s just the gentlemanly thing to do. Also he’s a Yakuza-trained knife-fighter.
- He’s a generally cool dude and furthermore a brilliantly learned professor and teacher
- Prince Giblets
Editor's Note: This is an author opinion and does not represent the official stance of Sherman Ave. We feel obligated to note that Prince Giblets is for the most part an idiot. Personally, being a one-dimensional engineer who doesn't have time for those frilly and impractical creative classes that populate this section of the bracket, I didn't care much about this matchup. That is, I didn't care until P-Gibs went rogue on his "objective analysis" and wrote an outright Savage endorsement in an effort to swing the odds. Now, I feel obligated to add an addendum to this matchup to balance it out. I don't have a lot of time for this, so we're going to do this the old-fashioned way and compare LinkedIn profiles. Here are some highlights from Fenrich's:
- Charles Deering McCormick Distinguished University Lecturer (and he doesn't even teach engineering or library! That's impressive!)
- Community Building Award (you know all those community buildings you've seen all over the country? Lane built all of them.)
- 29 endorsements for "Higher Education" (Oh man, if only he had 420 endorsements for this, right? Get it?)
- Dean of Weinberg (seriously, this alone should win him the matchup)
Here's what I found when I searched "Bill Savage" on LinkedIn:
- He's not a Northwestern professor at all! He's a senior director of sales development at Sears! Before that he was a multi-unit manager at Target! Why is he even in this bracket?!
- 62 endorsements for "Retail" (That's pretty impressive actually)
- Walter Klondike™[/expand] [polldaddy poll="8884392"]
(1) Danny Cohen vs. (4) Judy Franks
[expand title="Analysis"]I’m not supposed to be biased in this analyses, but here’s the thing, I, up until recently, was the only Sherman Ave writer in SESP. And I rep it so fucking hard. We’re the little school that everyone shits on because we lack the glitz of McCormick and the glamour of Beinin. So take what I say about Daniel Cohen with a grain of salt.
Danny Cohen is the man. He’s got one mission in this world and it’s to teach people about the Holocaust. Daniel Cohen will die teaching the boys and girls of SESP how to properly design a curriculum to teach the holocaust curriculum. When he lets go of that expo marker and leaves this mortal coil, you will know you saw a man dying doing what he was put on this earth to do.
Picture this: you’re in a dive bar in Detroit. There’s an older man in the bar. He’s not ugly, but he sure as hell ain’t handsome. There’s a dart board in the bar. The man grabs some darts and begins playing. First attempt: bullseye. Second attempt: goes through the first dart into the bullseye. Every subsequent attempt: bullseye. You are in awe. Never have you seen such finesse and grace in a hopeless place. You ask the bartender what the man’s story is. The bartender just smirks and says “He’s been at this for years.” That’s what’s it’s like to walk into Annenberg and take a class with Danny Cohen.
Now, I’m also supposed to talk about Judy Franks who I’ve never heard of until I decided to write this analysis. She’s teaches IMC classes and I assume she’s really good at it. I mean, she’s on this bracket for a reason. I also don’t really have a strong grasp of what IMC is. I thought people were talking about the brand of root beer until fall quarter my sophomore year. Whatever it is, I’m sure Judy Franks is a force to be reckoned with. She was named one of the Top 100 Northwestern Faculty which is a pretty huge accomplishment when you realize that Northwestern has way more than 100 faculty members. Okay maybe I’m not impartial enough to write about Judy Franks, so I’ll just repeat what I said about Danny Cohen.
Picture this: you’re in a dive bar in Detroit. There’s an older man in the bar. He’s not ugly, but he sure as hell ain’t handsome. There’s a dart board in the bar. The man grabs some darts and begins playing. First attempt: bullseye. Second attempt: goes through the first dart into the bullseye. Every subsequent attempt: bullseye. You are in awe. Never have you seen such finesse and grace in a hopeless place. You ask the bartender what the man’s story is. The bartender just smirks and says “He’s been at this for years.” That’s what’s it’s like to walk into McTrib and take a class with Judy Franks.
It’s your choice, America. It’s between a dart savant and an equally matched dart savant. Choose wisely.
- Clint Taurus[/expand] [polldaddy poll="8884520"]
(2) Zach Wise vs. (3) Jeffrey Sconce
[expand title="Analysis"]Jeffrey Sconce is not the kind of professor who’ll just settle for writing your textbook. He’s also coined his own academic term, one that actually has its own Wikipedia definition. His blog, Ludic Despair, doesn’t suck, unless you have a problem with pictures of Olive Garden going up in a blazing inferno or woodchucks contemplating their existential crises. And when you Google his name, an image of Two Broke Girls comes up. The last one might waver your vote, until you realize it’s only there because he’s tears that twenty-two minute laugh track limb from limb so much. Basically, a vote for Sconce is a vote for applying Foucault to fart jokes, for finally understanding Marx through Broad City episodes, and, at the very least, keeping up to date with Saturday Night Live (did you see the Louis C. K.’s monologue everyone’s talking about?).
A Tumblr devotee and fav of the Ave, Zach Wise is a Medill(do) teaching design, photojournalism, and “interactive storytelling”. Personally, I think “interactivity” is the journalistic equivalent of trusting randos to operate on your junk (you plebes have no business pawing at this poetry I’m spitting), but hey, he’s the one publishing for the New York Times and NPR. Also, he’s won a Pulitzer Prize, no big. And an Emmy, sure. I mean if you care about that kind of thing. I do have to skimp some points for wearing newsboy cap in that headshot, although honestly it’s rather impressive his Vegas stint  didn’t defile that hipster innocence.
 where he won the Pulitzer, that paradise of the presses
- Angela Twerkel[/expand] [polldaddy poll="8884556"]
(1) Ian Horswill vs. (4) Alex Birdwell
[expand title="Analysis"]Those of you in who have never taken a computer science class may be wondering, “what did this Horswill guy do to deserve a number one seed?” Well, greasing the right people opens doors, as they say, and an A in EECS 214 is going to look great on my transcript. But what else? Tournament titan Ian Horswill is known for his common sense, almost too good to be true classroom policies: dropping your lowest quiz grades, giving two-day, no-questions-asked extensions on every assignment at no penalty. He looks, as one reader noted, like “Gandalf the Grey”  which works well because his name makes him sound like a teacher at Hogwarts. All that and he does research in the field of video games. Your move, Birdwell.
Birdwell does robotics research, and is involved with developing prosthetics that allow forearm muscles to control artificial fingers. His CTEC comments sound like the type of things you would overhear from a couple doing that thing where they rub their noses against each other. Seriously, it must be nice to have an entire webpage just full of compliments about yourself . He also co-manages the Lightboard Studio. All of this is basically a long way of saying, “HOW FUCKING COOL IS MCCORMICK?” Robotic prosthetics and video game development are the types of research that make you want to be an engineer, until you realize that you’ll spend the majority of your time locked in Tech doing problem sets. Jesus, I can’t believe I just made a McCormick joke. That was tour guide-level bad. Going to go read Birdwell’s CTECs and pretend they’re about me so that I can feel better about myself.
 Yes? No?
 I just checked and www.jamesonthemanatee.com is open, so if anyone is looking to make some dreams come true, feel free.
- Jameson the Manatee[/expand] [polldaddy poll="8884567"]
(2) Wesley Burghardt vs. (3) Mallory Thompson
[expand title="Analysis"]If Wesley Burghardt’s personality is anything like his research subject, he’s gotta be a pretty sweet dude. His field of research includes modeling the dynamics of non-Newtonian fluid flow. That may sound boring, but if you’ve ever played with cornstarch and water as a kid, you know that non-Newtonian fluids are pretty goddamned cool. Burghardt is the man who teaches courses with titles as awful as “Heat Transfer” and “Viscoelasticity & Flow in Polymer Systems” and still gets CTEC scores above a 5 in every category. Plus, Burghardt is a chemical engineer. That means he probably knows how to make meth, which is cool, right?
Mallory Thompson is a goddess in the flesh. One of the most respected college band directors alive right now, Thompson has guest conducted groups all over the country, including many of the United States military bands, and has rehearsed her student ensemble at Northwestern into one of the best college groups in the world. Like all deities, however, Thompson should be feared as much as she is respected. My high school band director, who wasn’t afraid to throw piping hot cups of coffee at his students when he didn’t like their attitude, shudders in terror at the mention of the name “Mallory Thompson.” Legend has it that if you turn off all the lights, lay out ten candles in a pentagram, set them alight, and say Thompson’s name thrice into a mirror, Mallory herself will appear and give you the best effing conducting lesson you’ve ever had.
Who deserves to win this matchup? It’s tough to say. Both candidates are excellent professors and have contributed a lot to their respective fields. Who will win this matchup? Likely Burghardt: though both candidates will have a roughly equal number of supporters, Thompson’s voter turnout just won’t be able to compete with Burghardt’s.
- Reverend Doctor Dee Dee Turlington, Esquire, Attorney at Law[/expand] [polldaddy poll="8884585"]