It was the first day of freshman year and my friend and I arrived at Angell Hall hall slightly wet from the thunderstorm that had started on our way to class. We got there ten minutes early, just in case, which meant that we had to wait ten minutes for the class before ours to end and another ten for ours to start, so we sat anxiously on a bench in the hall. We took our seats in the first row, as close to the professor’s podium as we could get, and waited for something to happen. At 11:09 exactly, our professor bustled in. He came in carrying two bags, wearing a Michigan sweatshirt, and sporting a shock of long white hair. Then he picked up the chalk and began to speak, and we frantically started to write. He talked for the next 50 minutes with neither slides nor notes, turning around to write terms on the blackboard in chalk as they came up. He spoke with a slight accent that I couldn’t place, his sentences running into each other and composed of words that I would have to look up later. Once he began his lesson, it was like a spell had been cast and we became completely immersed in his speech, writing down everything exactly as he said it. We became so lost in his words that we even forgot to drink the coffees we had purchased on the way there. By the end of that first lecture, our coffees had gone cold, but we were completely hooked.
The class was Political Science 140 — Introduction to Comparative Politics, and the Professor was Andrei Markovits. Professor Markovits instantly became my favorite professor, and each week I would arrive at the lecture hall excited to begin class and experience his teaching. His teaching style was novel to me — he simply stood up each day and told us what he knew to be important. It always seemed unplanned, more of a conversation than a lesson, and I found learning in this way fresh and exciting. We always felt that Professor Markovits truly cared about the topic we discussed; the study of comparative politics was his passion rather than his profession. Furthermore, while his teaching was truly engaging, we respected him even more for how much he cared about everyone sitting in that lecture hall. There was always a line to speak with him after lecture, and he always had time to stay and talk until we got kicked out for the next class, and even then he would walk back to his office with anyone who still wanted to chat. I eventually joined Professor Markovits on a project he was working on and I met with him each week to discuss my progress. In the process, he also became somewhat of a mentor to me, always asking about my life and giving advice on academics and extracurriculars.
Through Professor Markovits’ class, I learned that the best professor is not the one with the fanciest slides or the most elaborate lesson plans, but the one who takes the time to impart their knowledge through real interaction with students and a love of sharing knowledge.