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April 22, 2010 Volume 31, No. 28

MichaelĀ Barnes

Michael Barnes

Michael Barnes, assistant teaching professor of classical studies College of ArtsĀ Science

Students flock to Mike Barnes’ classes and work hard in them; faculty praise him for his extensive, thorough preparation and the quality of materials he produces; all recognize his natural enthusiasm and engaging manner.

Barnes teaches an array of classical humanities courses at both introductory and graduate levels. He is as successful in large lectures, where he is famous for his booming voice and commanding presence, as in tutorials. 

“Professor Barnes is second to none in the classroom,” writes a student. “He not only has the ability to explain difficult material, but he can relate the subject matter back to the world of college students. His passion for the humanities is always evident. He lectures in such a way that involves the students, making even the most obscure myth or complicated text accessible as well as interesting. Yet Professor Barnes does more than just hold students’ attention; he invests in them.”

As director of undergraduate studies, Barnes serves as official adviser to about 50 declared student majors and about 50 student minors, and as a potential adviser to the hordes who stop by, thinking about becoming a major. Barnes excels at this job. A tangible measure of that excellence is the “sharp increase in the number of majors on his watch; less tangible, but at least as important, is the high degree of satisfaction of our students,” a colleague writes, adding that one way Barnes increased majors was by summarizing the various degree requirements on a single page to be attached to every course syllabus. For the curious students who come to visit him, Barnes compiled a list of career options that derive from a classics major.

After years of planning and developing the department’s study abroad program, Barnes made it happen last summer with a maiden voyage to Greece and Turkey. A trip back to Greece is planned for this summer, and Rome is on schedule for 2011.