What should I do about this prof?
August 27, 2010 9:08 PM Subscribe
ProfessorFilter: I screwed something up with a professor from college (a few years ago) and I want to make it right. Lots of details and beanplating.
posted by alternateuniverse to education (18 answers total)
In undergrad, I had a professor who is one of those guys who takes an interest in his student's welfare, sometimes to a ridiculous degree.
He's a "character". He's an adjunct, not full-time faculty, and quite unhappy about it. He is incredibly disorganized, chronically late, sometimes gets inappropriately angry and yells at his students... but has a heart of gold and really goes out of his way for everyone. This is why he's sometimes hours late -- he is helping one student and runs late on appointments. He also (I heard from a fellow student) holds grudges for a long time.
I was kind of immature (no, really immature), had lots of social anxiety and ADD issues -- and I think, no, I know, that I screwed him over. I don't know what to do.
- I had a conflict with one of his (higher-ranking) colleagues. I had tried to do two internships at the same time, one in the program she runs and one in another program with a different professor, and she thought that I wouldn't pay enough attention to hers -- before it had even started -- and kicked me out. He tried to take my side and get her to accept me back in, at some risk to his reputation. It didn't work.
- He gave me a recommendation that he said was a bit too kind about my abilities, saying that I would "pay him back later". I'm not sure what that meant.
- I took a short-term research position with him to complete a project that was years overdue (his fault). It was so disorganized that I couldn't understand it, he was always late or missing when I needed help. He had promised me the job because I needed money that summer. In the end, I didn't complete the project (I feel really guilty) and I didn't bill him either. So I was out the money and took out loans that summer.
- He helped me with a research project by giving me lots of contacts. He wanted me to send all of them a copy of my work, but I didn't want to (I didn't think it was very good). So I just sent a thank you note to them by email. He doesn't know this and probably forgot about it.
So, now I'm going to visit the area and I want to make it better somehow. He is quite well-connected among alumni (because he's such a helper) and I don't want to have an enemy.
But I'm scared about how I behaved (avoidantly, stupidly) and don't know what to say, if anything. Maybe I should just let it be until I have a specific reason to contact him? How do I find out how he feels in a professional way? But I don't want to come to him in a year and ask for his help or something without having healed the relationship.