The hottest professor in America is much more than a pretty face.
For the second year in a row, James Madison University psychology professor David Daniel topped Rate My Professors’ list of “Hottest Professors.”
Business Insider spoke to Daniel about teaching, his background in standup comedy, and, of course, being a hot professor.
“The biggest challenge about being the hottest professor is getting the students to pay attention during class,” Daniel said. He describes himself as a combination of Brad Pitt and Eric Cartman from “South Park.”
Daniel said he’s never been on RateMyProfessor, in order to give his students the freedom to post freely — “I tell my students ‘that’s for you guys.'”
His students have flocked to the website, mostly using it as a forum to exalt Daniel’s looks, teaching ability, and sense of humour. One student writes, “Absolutely phenomenal teacher! Loved the subject, loved his students, and his clothing choice is hilarious! Best teacher I’ve ever had. Made me love going to class. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!!”
An avid surfer and former standup comedian, Daniel primarily teaches general education classes filled with students from a variety of majors, many of whom are just starting college. His classes are among the most popular at JMU, with his 300 students filling the school’s largest classroom.
It’s important for Daniel’s students not only to pass the class, but also have skills they take with them after graduation. “I try to connect the class to their lives and their majors,” he said.
Before he entered the classroom full-time, Daniel spent 13 years as a standup comic, something he said he has to turn off when teaching. Anything funny that comes up during a lecture is either inadvertent or meant to help his students understand the material.
“Teachers who use humour to be popular are lame,” he said.
He described comedy as something tricky and fluid, and that you can “never relax” because there’s “always a new crowd” — not unlike teaching.
“The analogies for teaching and comedy are right there,” he said.
As he writes in a recent Reddit AMA, “In both instances, I am trying to get the people in front of me to understand the world the way I need them to to get my point across. Teaching is harder in the sense that not everyone wants to be there. But, comedy was harder because people were drunker.”
Besides RMP, Daniel has recieved numerous accolades for his teaching prowess, including a teaching excellence award from the American Psychological Association and inclusion in the Princeton Review’s 2012 book of the “Best 300 Professors
Daniel has also been honored at JMU, netting the 2013 Outstanding Teaching Award from the school’s psychology
department, and perhaps most impressively, being named the 2013 “Best Professor” by JMU students.
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