9 Famous Professors Who Rarely Teach

You're a good student. You're spending tons of borrowed cash to pay tuition to a coveted, well-respected academic institution. And you plan to take a class with one of the university's hot-shot, famous professors, a professor whose name even your buds who don't know a G-string from string theory will recognize. You can't wait for those plebeians to ask you, "Wow! You studied with (insert big shot professor name here)? What's he or she like?" The problem is, you won't know. You will never actually see that famous professor. They will be too busy making appearances on TV talk shows, producing slick specials for PBS, or traveling around the world from one conference to another, charging thousands of dollars in travel expenses back to the very school that is charging you an arm and a leg to attend. Before you decide to enroll in a school or a class based on a faculty professor's fame and notoriety, take a look at the following list of 9 famous professors who rarely teach.

  1. George Clinton, Professor of Music, Berklee College of Music

    The prestigious Berklee College of Music just awarded George Clinton, leader of the ground-breaking funk band Parliament-Funkadelic, an honorary doctor of music degree. Now doesn't it make sense that a man already known as "Dr. Funkenstein" be granted a doctorate? And who wouldn't want to enroll in a college-level course taught by "the disco king with the monster sound"? Surely the only requirement would be that by the end of a semester those enrolled, except of course the doctor's nemesis, Sir Nose D'voidoffunk, dance, make their funk the P-funk, and get funked up. Parliament-Funkadelic held a teaching residency at Boston College prior to Clinton receiving the degree. But there's no word yet if Funkology 101 will be added to Berklee's course offerings

  2. Simon Schama, Professor of Art History and History, Columbia University

    Currently — and it seems perpetually — on leave, writer, professor, and TV star Simon Schama is an intellectual's dream-date, the ideal companion if you want to discuss the history of Western art over sushi and Japanese beers. But between writing best-selling books, creating television series for the BBC and PBS, and appearing as a guest on talk shows like Charlie Rose, how much face time do you really think you're going to get with this man? More likely, you will be repeatedly informed that Professor Schama is on leave, but you are welcome to leave your thesis with the T.A. And no, he is not available to sign your copy of "Landscape and Memory."

  3. Kermit the Frog, Doctorate of Amphibious Letters, Southampton College

    Yep, everyone's favorite banjo-playing, singing, green-felt sock puppet has an honorary doctorate by Southampton College. In a commencement speech, Kermit stated that as one of Southampton's "honorary doctors," he would "have regular office hours" and make sure there were "new magazines" in his waiting room. Aw, how cute! He's a frog who got a doctorate who thinks he's a doctor! So imagine, after borrowing thousands of dollars for tuition, sitting in an audience of fellow graduates, and listening to one of Jim Henson's Muppets give a commencement speech. How Kermit's speech has affected Southampton's enrollment numbers is not public knowledge.

  4. Stephen Colbert, Professor of Fine Arts, Knox College

    What if the name of a character you play as an actor happens to be your actual name in real-life, and you are awarded a doctorate? Do you yourself accept the degree? Or do you accept it on behalf of the character you've sublimated in order to accept the degree? And how in the world would a student ever manage to make an appointment to see you? Political comedian Stephen Colbert found himself in this position, and somehow managed to accept the degree and deliver a commencement speech upon acceptance. "The best career advice I can give you is to get your own TV show," Colbert told the graduates. "It pays well and eventually some nice people will give you a doctorate in fine arts for doing jack squat."

  5. Brian Greene, Professor of Physics and Mathematics, Columbia University

    We wonder if string theory has become an albatross for physics and mathematics professor Brian Greene. Between starring in three-part NOVA specials about string theory, collaborating with minimalist composer Philip Glass, writing best-selling books, and appearing on news and talk shows, when does Green find the time to teach or grade papers? Fortunately, multiverse theory is a part of string theory, so even when Greene is unavailable to teach a class, he is available, by appointment, in a parallel universe.

  6. Dolly Parton

    The copy on the homepage of the Carson-Newman College website reads, "What makes Carson-Newman different from just any other college? Well…where do we begin?" You almost wonder if they deleted the word "gosh," replacing it with the […] in between "well" and "where." By way of an explanation, the site names country singer and songwriter Dolly Parton as a recent recipient of an honorary doctorate from C-N, as well as television anchor Bill Williams. Hey, C-N! You can't have it both ways! You can't tease us by just name checking Ms. Parton. If anyone is expected to fork out tuition, then Dolly should be on the faculty! Have her teach songwriting, the business of music publishing, or how to build and make money from your own theme park.

  7. Madeleine Albright, Distinguished Professor of Diplomacy, Georgetown University

    When Madeleine Albright, the first female Secretary of State, the first Michael and Virginia Mortara Endowed Distinguished Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, the chair of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, and the Pew Global Attitudes Project, author, and grand dame of U.S. politics, finds time to teach in a classroom, she has no interest in policing your hung-over, text-messaging, daydreaming ass while trying to convey how we can restore our country's reputation and leadership. You got a problem with that, or if she simply intimidates the hell out of you, skip her class, read one of her books, and try to accept the fact that some people are better suited for diplomacy on the world stage.

  8. Brian May, Visiting Researcher, Imperial College

    After playing guitar for 30-plus years in one of the world's biggest, most flamboyant British rock bands, Brian May realized he needed a career he could "fall back on" in case the music thing didn't work out. May decided to learn a trade: astrophysics, more specifically, the job of researching Interplanetary Dust. Having completed his Doctoral Thesis in 2007, May continues a struggle to resist the siren-call of rock and roll and continue his research into astronomy. Conversely, whenever May actually stands before a classroom, students surely have to resist stomping, clapping, and sounding out the chant to "We Will Rock You."

  9. Dennis Green, Sports Business Management, San Diego State University

    Former head coach for the Minnesota Vikings and later the Arizona Cardinals, taught a course in Sports Business Management at San Diego State University, but we're unable to confirm if he is still teaching there. Green's website currently touts his services as a consultant, as well as his autobiography, "No Room for Crybabies." Whether or not he has left the world of academia, the demands of his current role as a coach for the United Football League notwithstanding, Coach Green is, who you thought he was.

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