UB has top-rated professors

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The Spectrum

After 10 million ratings of over 6,500 schools, the University at Buffalo has come out on top.

The highly popular professor evaluation website, RateMyProfessors.com, has released its list of the top college professors for 2010, and UB instructors Jim Javor and Rob Busch were named 10th and 22nd in the nation.

"There are over a million professors in the RateMyProfessor database," said Carlo DiMarco, vice president of university relations for mtvU, which owns and operates RateMyProfessors.com. "So to bubble up in the top 25 is pretty amazing."

According to DiMarco, each year RateMyProfessors.com shines a light on the incredible work taking place at institutions across the country. The website uses a five-point Likert scale and a binary scoring system to compile its annual ranking lists, which reveal the best college professors based on students' ratings.

"The site is entirely student-driven," DiMarco said. "These lists directly reflect the voices of students who are on campus, in these classrooms and listening to and learning from these professors."

Javor and Busch are not only UB adjunct instructors praised by their students, they are also colleagues in the Department of Mathematics. Both men share the common goal of trying to discover personal and unique ways of getting their students interested in math.

"The human attention span is 45 to 50 minutes, unless you're sitting in a math class – then it's 45 to 50 seconds," Busch said. "For me personally, the goal is always to try and find a clearer, better [and] faster way of explaining something, while at the same time trying to get a classroom full of students engaged with – let's face it – not the most exciting of topics."

Based on 30 pages of student comments posted on the website, Busch's sense of humor is what keeps his classroom engaged. According to them, Rob, as he insists on being called, is known to cover his face with "war paint chalk" on occasion.

"Rob is always out to have fun and make his class enjoyable," said Chris Kabb, a freshman chemistry major currently enrolled in Busch's introductory calculus course. "He loves to make jokes about everything and talks like a normal person rather than a calculus professor … as a teacher, he is one of the best I've ever had. He has no problem admitting when he is wrong and fixing his mistakes, and will make sure he answers any questions asked fully."

Javor also received an overwhelmingly positive response from his students, but was rated higher in different areas.

"Jim has 25 pages of reviews, I think, and thumbing through them, people said that he loves what he's doing and he really has students' interests at heart," DiMarco said. "From a student's perspective, you're about to invest 14 weeks – especially when you're going into a class like math where you feel that you might need extra help – so to hear other students say that [Javor] goes out of his way – I think that's great information, that without a site like RateMyProfessors, you just don't have access to."

According to DiMarco, when he was in college and professor rating websites didn't exist, he had to rely on his friends' opinions to decide which classes to take. He says RateMyProfessors.com utilizes this very concept, but on a much greater scale.

"With RateMyProfessors, there is a much larger pool, so students can tap into dozens of opinions and paint a picture of what the experience would be like," he said.

Javor admits to never having visited RateMyProfessors.com before, but says he is extremely grateful to hear that his students are responding so favorably toward him. As an instructor with 20 years' experience teaching at a university level, Javor says he has the highest regard for his students and loves teaching at UB.

Busch says Javor's top 10 achievement was amazing and he is not at all surprised by it. In fact, he is honored to be in his company.

"I'll call it a blessing to be able to work with such incredibly gifted teachers," Busch said. "I have no idea [why I was chosen]. I have what is, at times, an abrasive personality. I'm loud and obnoxious, and for these young men and women to look at me and say, ‘I appreciated taking your course' – it is quite humbling. To all of [them], I say thank you very much, and I mean that. They are too kind and in some sense, there would be no Rob Busch without them."

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