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Professors show of unique talents

Drew Pabgraze | Wednesday, March 28, 2012

As a way for students to interact outside of the classroom with professors, Legends of Notre Dame hosted the fourth annual ‘Professors Unplugged’ event Tuesday night. This event gives freshmen a chance to see their professors’ unique talents.

ND Ignite, a program in the First Year of Studies, organized this year’s event to increase interaction between professors and freshmen, professor and event coordinator Sean Wernert said.

“We planned and worked with them [the students] to make the event something that they can be proud of and informative,” Wernert said.  “As we continue the event each year, we work with first-year students to remake and design the event as something that they will find interesting.”

“We want students to see the path that professors have taken in their careers – what brought them to their chosen academic field and how they got to Notre Dame,” Wernert said. “We also want students and faculty to interact outside the classroom in an informal environment.”

Hugh Page, dean of the First Year of Studies, kicked off the event by reading three personally written poems. The first of those poems, entitled ‘First Book,’ stressed the importance of embracing and examining self.  

“We are the first book we are ever given, but the one we read last and least attentively,” Page said.

Following Dean Page, Abby Palko, professor of gender studies, chronicled her journey to Notre Dame, which included an eight-year stint as an 8th grade teacher.  

“When I finally went to Notre Dame for my Ph.D after teaching I couldn’t believe I was being paid to read,” Palko said.  “It was incredible.”

Many of the professors revealed musical talents.  Professors Annie Coleman and Josh Kaplan performed a duet together with an ukelele and a trumpet.  

Sociology professor Eugene Halton impressed with his harmonica playing skills.  His music style was varied, ranging from Beethoven on a miniature harmonica to train sounds on a traditional harmonica.  Between songs, Halton recalled his time at Princeton as a track and field athlete and the road that led him to Notre Dame.

Others, such as Professor Anre Venter, amused the crowd with wit and sarcasm.  

“My talent is to use ridicule and sarcasm as the basis for good teaching,” Venter said.  “It is always done with love and respect.”

Students who attended the event said they felt the event was a success.

“I’m really glad I went,” freshman Sophie Loftus said.  “They were all really talented and had great life stories.”

Contact Drew Pangraze at apangraz@nd.edu