October 6, 2016 | John Berendzen | Uncategorized

Exceptional Teachers

Way back in the dark ages I attended Washington University as an undergrad (later as a grad student).  One of the things that impressed me about Wash U was the abundance of phenomenally great professors.  I need to qualify this a bit.  All the professors were good.  Some were great.  Several were “beyond great” – world class people that changed your life.  Wash U has these folks coming out of the woodwork.  I had several.  If you were in the School of Architecture in the 80’s like me, you knew professors like Jim Fitzgibbon (he was the real “most interesting man in the world” long before the Corona guy came on the scene) and Leslie Laskey.  Probably no one shaped my architectural education more than Professor Laskey.  And there was Sarantis Symeonoglou with the Department of Art History and Archeology.

I had lunch with Professor Symeonoglou recently.  It was the highlight of my week.  He filled me in on the progress on his latest book, and we looked over his drawings reconstructing the Palace of Odysseus.  As background, every undergraduate student at the time needed a certain amount of credits from the A&E department.  I lucked into Professor Symeonoglou’s intro class.  Some things he told us I’ve never forgotten, like his advice that the reconstruction of the Parthenon would have been better if they’d used the old methods of joining the stones with metal ties encased in molten lead, instead of the titanium being used.  (Sometimes the old tried and true methods are preferable, even today.)  I had other classes with the Professor, including one on the archeology of the Bible.  Every thing he said, the way he said it – was just so interesting.   It’s amazing how some things can stay with you, 30+ years into the future.

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