When Dr. Rodney Anderson failed to show up to consecutive classes, part of me knew something had to be wrong.
Dr. Anderson, whom my friends and I affectionately called Rodney, just did not miss class. He was one of the few professors of upper-division classes who actually took regular attendance. It even took up a sizable portion of his students’ grades. It was certainly irregular for him to miss one class, much less two.
But it was still quite a shock when I received the intra-department email confirming his passing.
I did not know Dr. Anderson well, but I knew him well enough for his death to sting. He was my professor for four of my political science classes, and I can attest that the words of Political Science Department Chair David Schecter are true: Dr. Anderson was certainly very “caring, compassionate and dedicated.”
Dr. Anderson was a very kind man with a gentle spirit. When walking through the halls of the Social Science building, he could be heard asking colleagues how their families were, with legitimate care in his voice. He knew their names — he was great at remembering names — and their situations and actually wanted to know how his friends’ loved ones were doing.
Dr. Anderson had several easy-to-spot characteristics, which only made him more endearing to his students. He said “here” a lot, as in, “The first presidential caucus is in Iowa, here, and the first presidential primary is in New Hampshire, here.” The more superfluous heres in a sentence, the more important the point he was trying to make. Dr. Anderson’s sentences could rightly be described as having a subject, a predicate and a “here.”
His excitement for political science was infectious. When he was really excited, he would speak faster and faster, his words tumbling out like a bunch of Jenga pieces falling to the floor. But this passion he had for the subjects he taught is what made Dr. Anderson so well liked by his students — his quirkiness and dorkiness were integral aspects to his charm.
Dr. Anderson was a throwback. He was steadfast in his refusal to sync his classes up to Blackboard. Electronics of any kind were outlawed. I’m sure, had the university left them in the classrooms, he would still be using an overhead projector.
He was a great teacher as well. It was not uncommon for him to fill up the white board multiple times with his notes during one class period. His dedication to the minutiae of politics was extraordinary: After sitting through one of his classes, one could, with ease, have a notebook full of notes on something as seemingly simple as the Electoral College.
This dedication to his craft extended to his students. The man loved to teach. Whereas most professors want to have days off during the week for writing and research, Dr. Anderson willingly volunteered to have classes every day of the week. He had more office hours than any professor I have ever had. He was willing to help his students with anything they needed.
Dr. Anderson was a good man and a great teacher. He will be missed.
Tony Petersen is the opinion editor of The Collegian. Follow him on Twitter @tonypetersen4.