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March 17, 1988 - Image 46

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1988-03-17

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at the end of the semester, complete with
fried grasshoppers. For his larger lecture
class, Grove developed a computer pro-
gram that lets students create their own
digs. "You get more interested, you do more
reading, you listen more attentively," says
1987 graduate Kevin McLaughlin, assess-
ing the effects of Grove's technique. "And
you learn more."
Keeping his students awake in class is
only a part of Grove's commitment.
"Many teachers give lip service to the idea
that teaching is important," says Linda
Klepinger, an associate professor of physi-
cal anthropology whose office is next door
to Grove's. "He spends lots of time during
office hours. Undergrads come in and talk
to him for hours. But he doesn't find this a
task. He loves it." Somehow he also found
time to write "Ancient Chalcatzingo," a
600-page book published last spring about
his excavation of an Olmec Indian outpost.
"Research makes me a hell of a better
scholar," he says. "It gives students an
advantage by giving them up-to-date ma-
terial." Although Grove loves his on-site
work, he won't give up teaching. "I like
interacting with young people. I think it
keeps me young," he says. "When I go
back to reunions I wonder, 'Who are these
old farts?'"
The Maverick
His professional peers regard him as
one of the country's outstanding con-
stitutional scholars, but many of his
Mormon brethren can't say his name with-
out shuddering. In conservative Utah, J. D.
Williams is an outspoken liberal. He
turned-loudly-against the war in Viet-
nam. He called for the impeachment of
President Nixon; now he's recommending
it for President Reagan. Those same Utah-
ans who denounce the University of Utah
as a hotbed of "liberalism and immorality"
say Williams is largely to blame. On cam-
pus, though, he commands the respect of
both faculty and students-no matter what
their political views. "For my four years, I
would rank J.D. up with the top two teach-
ers I had," says John Youngren, an English
major who graduated last spring. "Wheth-
er it was a snowy day in the middle of
November or a bright day in the middle of
May, J.D. was there. And he was going to
make the class something that every stu-
dent could remember him by. I really felt
he put his heart and soul into every lecture,
every day."
What keeps him going, Williams says, is
teaching. "I've gotten fatter; I've gotten
older," he says. "The students are my rea-
son for existence. And in every way that I
can, I'm going to communicate that to
them." Over the years, Williams has de-


A liberal who makes Mormons shudder: Williams teaching constitutional law at Utah

fined his goals as a teacher. What lasting
impression would he like to leave on his
students? "One, J.D. cared about me. Two,
he knew his subject. Three, he truly in-
spired me to learn it. Four, he respected my
academic freedom to make up my own
mind. And five, I know a whole lot more
about what it is like to be a free person as a
result of being in his course."
The Mediator
Dorothy Cowser Yancy started college
in 1960, when she was just 16, and
over the next 26 years she made stops
at 10 more colleges and universities. Along
the way she picked up a master's degree in
history, a doctorate in political science and
a certificate from Harvard's Program for
Management Development; while being a
good student she also learned what makes
Cutting straight to the point: Georgia Tech's

a good teacher. Now her students at Geor-
gia Tech get the payoff. "She's a tough
prof, but she really knows and enjoys the
material," says junior Leslie Lissimore,
a textiles-engineering major who took
Yancy's course in Afro-American history
last spring. "She goes beyond what's in the
textbook and relates things to what's hap-
pening today," says recent graduate An-
thony Riviere. "She encourages you to
talk to her after class and you feel free to
come by to talk about whatever is on your
mind. She's blunt, bold and straight to the
point-and she cares."
That caring-exemplified by her open-
door office-has turned Yancy into Geor-
gia Tech's favorite fence mender, especial-
ly on racial issues. It also doesn't hurt that
Yancy, the daughter of a farmer, grew up
in a segregated Alabama. "She has the
respect and trust of both the black stu-
dents on campus and the Tech administra-
tion, allowing her to provide a
Yancy kind of dialogue," says history
ORGIA TECH professor Robert McMath, who
has worked with Yancy since
both arrived at Tech 16 years
ago. "The racial climate here is
not perfect, but there is a high-
er degree of understanding that
is due in large part to Dorothy
Yancy." Off campus, Yancy of-
ten serves as a mediator in la-
bor disputes; getting to know
people "from the shop floor to
the top office" gives her a per-
spective she can bring back to
her students. Her two profes-
sions call for many of the same
traits. Yancy mediates the way
she teaches-not by. coddling
people but by stretching them.


APRIL 1988

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