Did you know that Albert Einstein taught for three years at Caltech, American University can boast a faculty including Ralph Nader, and Al Gore regularly drops into Middle Tennessee State University to teach a course called “Community Building: A Comprehensive Family-Centered Approach”? Famous doesn’t always equal fabulous, but here are some schools boasting a few famous faces on their staff for you to consider!
University of Texas at Austin boasts the inventor of Ethernet, Robert Metcalfe, as a professor of electrical engineering and “Director of Innovation,” as well as Nancy Schiesari, an Emmy-nominated filmmaker whose 30 documentaries and features have aired on the BBC, ABC, National Geographic, and PBS.
Perhaps one of the most impressive of Boston University’s faculty is prolific writer, Nobel Peace Prize–winner, and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. Since 1976, Wiesel has been the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities at BU, where he also holds the title of University Professor. His over 40 works include Night, which has been translated into 30 languages and has sold millions of copies since it was published in 1958. Most recently, you may have heard of Professor Theodore Moustakas, currently embroiled in a lawsuit against Apple. He claims he patented some of its technology in the 1990s.
Founded in 1890 by John D. Rockefeller, University of Chicago has been littered with famous faces ever since. More Nobel laureates have been associated with UChicago than any other university in the world (a whopping 85), including alumnus Barack Obama. From 1992 until his election to the U.S. Senate in 2004, Obama served as a professor in the law school.
Columbia University’s location in New York City attracts top-notch faculty, including Oscar-winning director Milos Forman (Amadeus), who teaches film studies as Professor Emeritus. As a professor since 1996, theoretical physicist and string theorist Brian Greene is co-director of the school's Institute for Strings, Cosmology, and Astroparticle Physics, and even appeared on an episode of The Big Bang Theory!
While school rankings and campus location are important factors when choosing a graduate program, don’t forget to learn about the people who will actually be teaching you! A famous face doesn’t necessarily equate an inspiring teaching style, but if a faculty member is published, regularly lectures, and works outside the field of academia, there’s usually a reason!