Standing in front of Rackham Auditorium last night, Political Science and German Prof. Andrei Markovits remembered his first connection with the University of Michigan.

Sarah Royce
Prof. Andrei Markovits holds his Golden Apple Award before giving his “ideal last lecture” in Rackham Auditorium last night. (ANGELA CESERE/Daily)

On Nov. 22, 1969, Markovits watched Bo Schembechler’s Wolverine squad upset then number one ranked Ohio State from his Columbia University dorm room. From then on, Markovits said, he was a Michigan fan.

Last night, Markovits, recipient of the 17th Golden Apple Award, gave his ideal last lecture, titled “Sports as Culture on Two Continents: Metaphors for My Life.” The Golden Apple is an award presented by a committee of students for outstanding teaching.

During his lecture, Markovits couldn’t help but compare winning the Golden Apple to winning college football’s Heisman Trophy, which is awarded to the best college football player every year.

“Harmon, Howard, Woodson, Markovits,” he said, referring to the three Heisman winners from the University.

Markovits said he never truly felt at home until he started teaching at the University in 1999. He joked that after teaching for only three weeks at the University of California at Santa Cruz, he met a University of Michigan professor and asked for help finding a job in Ann Arbor.

Markovits grew up in Soviet-controlled Romania as the son of Jewish-Hungarian parents.

He came to America as an 11-year-old, and the first thing he encountered was a customs worker chewing Juicy Fruit and listening to a New York Yankees game on the radio, said Markovits’s friend, Opthamology Prof. Jonathan Trobe, in an introduction to the lecture.

For his lecture, Markovits, who teaches a popular sociology course called Sports and Society, talked about the many purposes sports have served in his life: a connection to his father, an assimilation tool in America, a tie to his European roots and a topic that he has taught and studied throughout the world.

Markovits’s students were enthusiastic that he had received the award.

Engineering junior Joel Schweitzer said part of what makes Markovits a great professor is his knowledge and ability to understand people.

“I’ve yet to miss one of his lectures,” he said.

In an interview after the lecture, Markovits said part of what makes being a professor so special is that it’s never boring. Even if you’re teaching the same subject, he said, every class has different individuals.

“I love learning,” he said. “I love communicating about what I learn.”

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