0

Sometimes, expertise is best left unpublished

They say timing is everything, and mine has always been bad. I bought my first eight-track player just as cassettes were coming in. I stocked up on VHS tapes just as DVDs became the rage.

I was in college at the wrong time, too. Nowadays, students at the University of Georgia - hallowed be thy name - can go online and find out everything you'd want to know about a professor before registering for his or her class. They can find out what the average grade has been for previous classes taught by said professor and how many folks make A's and how many folks fail - and that can be useful information when you are trying to achieve a certain grade-point average.

Back when I was in school, we just took pot luck. Sometimes the instructor wasn't even listed in the course guide. I walked into a biology class once and the teacher looked just like Elmer Fudd, from the old Bugs Bunny cartoons. I mean just like Elmer Fudd. At least he was good-natured about it. The first day of class he drew a carrot on the board and said, "Now this is a 'cawwot,'" and the whole class went crazy - all 300 of us.

Nowadays, colleges even print out directories with profiles for each instructor that include the classes they teach and their areas of expertise.

We didn't have that, either. We just found out what our teachers were good at the old-fashioned way. We had to listen to them tell us.

I had some great teachers in college. I was a PE major in undergraduate school, and Georgia had an outstanding PE faculty - folks who really took time to get to know their students - and they were good at a lot of things. B.J. Clemence, for instance, was an expert at hustling on the golf course - or so they say. Not being a golfer myself, Dr. Clemence never got any of the money I didn't have, but something like that would have been a good thing to know. I took racquet sports from B.J. - tennis, badminton and paddle ball - and I was terrible at all of them, but it wasn't his fault.

Lewis Gainey was an expert at track, but I was a worse runner than I was a tennis player, so I wasn't able to take advantage of his expertise, either.

The great Earl Fales was one of my favorite instructors. Coach Fales was an expert on just about everything, according to Coach Fales. He taught me football rules and theory, basketball rules and theory, fundamentals of soccer and square dancing. He also officiated football and basketball games that I coached long after I had graduated. One night while a bunch of us were sitting around the dorm room, discussing Coach Fales' versatility, one of us called the PE offices at the old Stegman Hall for some reason or another and Coach Fales was manning the switchboard.

I told you he could do anything! Once during an election year, the Athens paper listed all the votes for mayoral candidates, including write-ins, and Earl Fales got a vote for mayor. When I brought that to his attention the next day he said, "I sure did, and if I could have voted twice I would have gotten two votes."

Well I told you all of that to tell you this. Apparently, Georgia State University in Atlanta has gotten some unwanted attention from the state legislature because it lists its faculty's accomplishments, course offerings and areas of expertise in a staff guide, and at least one lawmaker, Calvin Hill of Canton, objects to some of the areas of expertise that are being touted by the school.

One faculty member, Kirk Elifson, is listed as an expert in male prostitution. I know times have changed and I am sure that there is a legitimate benefit for a major university to employ an instructor who is an expert in male prostitution, but if the University of Georgia had one of those back in the '70s, when I was in school, it wouldn't have been in the staff directory. I can guarantee you that.

Rep. Hill seems to think that we should rethink whether we should spend our tax dollars in support of what he called "extraneous and outrageous" subject matter. I tried to call Earl Fales to find out his opinion on the matter, but he wasn't home. He might have been playing golf at Lake Oconee with B.J. Clemence.

Another GSU faculty member, Mindy Stombler, is listed as an expert in oral sex.

Call me an ignorant narrow-minded Southern redneck if you want to, but in the words of the immortal Lewis Grizzard, "I don't believe I'da told that!" If we had such experts on the UGA faculty back in the day, I know for a fact they didn't advertise that.

Actually, I tried to contact Mindy Stombler for a comment, but she did not return my call - or if she did, my lovely wife, Lisa, erased her message before I could hear it.

Like I said, timing is everything. I wonder if it's too late for me to go back to school. I don't have a doctorate yet.

Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. E-mail him at dhuck08@bellsouth.net.