Sometimes choosing the best class means choosing the best professor. For some students, having the right professor is the difference between having an engaging semester or a boring nightmare. To help ease the decision, The Daily Nebraskan arts and entertainment staff put together a list of its favorite classes taught by great professors at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Professor: Michael Warren Combs
Class I took: Power and Politics in America
Combs doesn’t take attendance because it isn’t needed. He’s an amazing lecturer who will grab your attention the moment he walks into the room. Power and Politics is one of the introductory political science classes UNL offers and acts as a refresher course for all the basic government material covered in high school. Despite thinking I knew everything going into the course, Combs floored me a few times with information and ideas I’d never heard of or even considered. He challenged every belief a person put forward and he respected it as long as they backed it up.
Professor: Amelia María de la Luz Montes
Class I took: Introduction to Lesbian and Gay Literature
As an English minor, there are only so many literature classes I can take before I get bored out of my mind. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading and critically analyzing, but after a while various century lit classes get tedious. So, I figured I’d take one of the more interesting topics. I was expecting a lot of analyzing texts and discussing elements of novels that aren’t quite familiar with students. But I got so much more. Montes did an amazing job of incorporating LGBTQA+ history with concepts in the novels we read. As someone who felt very knowledgeable about the subject, I was floored with positive energy and a lot of interesting information. I was engaged every single day and Montes made me enjoy attending, which is all you can really hope for in any class.
Professor: Regina Werum
Class I took: Sociology of Race and Ethnicity
Werum’s class was definitely one of the most challenging and rewarding courses I’ve taken at UNL. The class focused on sociology and how it plays into analyzing the roles of race and ethnicity in society. Werum knows her stuff and it was evident in the lectures. If you have the opportunity to take this course, I would highly recommend this class.
Professor: David Wishart
Class I took: Undergraduate Seminar
In my opinion, Wishart is the coolest professor at UNL. Born in the United Kingdom, he came to UNL to study geography, fell in love with the Great Plains and stayed. He has traveled many places and saw the Beatles in concert before they became one of the most famous bands of all time. He even moved to China with his wife for a while. His class at UNL was very liberal arts style, requiring students to write two 10-page papers and give two 20-minute presentations on whatever topic they would like, within reason. He knows his stuff, lecturing based only on memory and keeping the students engaged all the time. It’s incredible and I would take the class again if I could.
Professor: Joseph Weber
Class I took: Reporting I
Weber is one of the best professors I have had in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. He challenged my abilities as a writer and always reminded me that work can always be improved. With that being said, Weber didn’t compliment easily, so when he did, it was something to be proud of. He has this dry humor that can brighten up a room. For example, one time in class a student wondered if sound is really something we hear, or if it’s something that exists only when people are around to hear it. “That sounds like a conversation that needs to said under the influence of something,” Weber said. He’s a rockstar and I loved my semester with him. He also had long hippy hair back in the day and who can hate that?
Professor: Rick Alloway
Class I took: Principles of Audio Production and Broadcast Writing
Alloway is a professor who truly cares about his students. In both classes I took with him, I felt comfortable asking any question. He’s a great lecturer and his classes are always interesting. Alloway also did a great job of helping us while allowing us complete projects in our own way. His comments on graded work were always helpful and I think he helped me become a better writer. The best part of his classes is that he does it all with enthusiasm for both the material and his students.
Professor: Julie Naughton
Class I took: Reporting I
When I took Reporting I in the spring semester, I was nervous due to the horror stories I’ve heard from other journalism students. Reporting I is a notoriously hard class and no one had Naughton previously. But throughout my time spent in her class, I began to enjoy Naughton’s guidance. I also appreciated how Naughton shared her own opinion, but was always open-minded to students’ beliefs, too. When we turned in stories, she always gave helpful advice as to how we could improve as journalists. At first I thought this class would be a drag because it was a three-hour night class, but I ended up looking forward to it every week.
Professor: Maureen Honey
Class I took: University Honors Seminar (English)
It’s been almost two years since I first ventured into the basement of Andrews Hall on my second day of college. It was a pretty grim scene: dim lights, construction noises and dozens of nervous students waiting to see what their classes would be like. I was no different, but the moment Honey walked into the classroom, those tensions dissipated. There was just something soothing about the way she greeted us on that first day and every day after that made it a delight to be in class. She isn’t one of those professors who is just nice—she expects students to come to class having completed the readings, think critically in class discussions and write detailed and thoughtful essays. She really cares about her students. She is always open to questions, and there was more than one occasion when she brought food to the class. Honey is one of those rare instructors who makes it hard to say goodbye at the end of the semester. We also got to read “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” for the class, so that was an added bonus.
Professor: Allison Ronnau Bonander
Class I took: Fundamentals of Human Communication, Honors Section
If you have to take a communications course while you are at UNL, you will undoubtedly hear some horror stories: the huge class sizes, the boring content and occasionally the careless and helpless teaching assistant. Fortunately, I experienced none of that in Bonander’s class, which I really enjoyed. Since it was an honors section, it was a smaller class. Public speaking is not necessarily my greatest skill set, but she was always helpful when it came to composing and delivering our speeches. She knows her material so well and found great ways to keep our class engaged and conversational, unlike a traditional lecture. On top of all of this, she has a great sense of humor and never ceased to make me laugh I always found myself enjoying my communications class way more than my friends who were in the regular section. A huge portion of UNL students have to take COMM 101 and I recommend taking it with her.
Professor: Brandon Nutting
Class I took: Introduction to Advertising and Public Relations
I’m not a lecture person. Throughout my time in college, I’ve always performed better in non-lecture classes. Despite it being a 240-person lecture, Nutting made a basic introductory class entertaining and enjoyable. He genuinely cares about his students and would take the time to get to know the front-row regulars. He would also start off each class with the most hilarious anecdotes.
Professor: Joe Starita
Class I took: Mass Media and Society
Mass Media and Society was a requirement I consistently put off taking and, luckily, that landed me in Starita’s section of the class. Starita is by far the best professor I’ve had throughout my college experience. He has incredible insight and interesting stories that greatly improved my learning experience. His lectures were engaging, as he actively taught (rather than flipping through a slideshow) and encouraged critical thinking conversations. These allowed students to voice and develop their own opinions, free of judgement, on a variety of different matters. He’s funny and genuine; I looked forward to each class and never left a lecture feeling like I didn’t take something important away from it. Starita is a true rarity, and I highly recommend taking any class he teaches.
Professor: Susan Ourada
Class I took: Modern Dance I
When I took this class my first semester I was surprised to see a lot of people who had never danced before. Modern dance is fun and doesn’t require a lot of background experience, so that is the appeal. Also, Ourada is inclusive to non-dancers by constantly encouraging them to try new things and be brave. The environment was welcoming, and it was a nice change of pace from sitting in a lecture hall.
Professor: Stacey Waite
Class I took: Rhetoric: Argument and Society
This is one of the most intellectually stimulating classes I’ve ever taken. However, if you want an easy “A,” this class isn’t for you. It requires intense analysis and a unique style of writing along with thought-provoking class discussion. Waite is incredibly knowledgeable about rhetoric and its relationship with society. There were two required texts, one of which was a collection of excerpts and essays written by a variety of intellectuals on a multitude of societal issues. She is an excellent discussion facilitator and the class allows you to think about issues and argument in ways you probably wouldn’t have before. Though it was difficult and a fair amount of work, I am immensely glad I took it as it allowed me to gain new perspective on society while improving my writing and analysis skills.