Aging Professor Keeps Mind Active by Constantly Thinking of New Ways to Break Students


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Maurice Lewis has been a pillar of the Penn Anthropology department for nearly half a century. While he has no desire to quit his dream job, even he admits that the years are creeping up on him.

“I’m not the same man that I was in the '80s,” he sighed wistfully, “Back then, you could tell me an artifact’s museum call number and I’d be able to walk you there blindfolded. But my memory isn’t quite what it used to be.”

But Dr. Lewis didn’t fill up his office (and his TA’s offices) with departmental and national awards by being complacent.

While many professors simply reuse questions when drafting exams, Lewis refuses to follow tradition.

“Actually,” he admitted sheepishly, “I’d become so absent minded that I kept misplacing my answer key. Once, I had to go to a fraternity house and ask them if they had a copy in their test bank. Naturally, they did.”

Breaking the mold, Lewis now thinks of new ways to assess his class every year.

“Five years ago, I announced that the final would be replaced with a citywide scavenger hunt due in fifteen hours. You should have seen the looks on their faces once I told them that the whole thing was just a 'test of character' and that I’d actually be grading them based entirely on the week-five reading quiz. I’m never forgetting that. Take that, memory loss!”

Many students report being incensed by Dr. Lewis’s controversial practices.

“My other professors told me I was brilliant,” sobbed Sarah Conneli (C ‘18) “I got into Stanford’s Anthropology PhD program. And then... And then they rescinded the offer, because I failed Professor Lewis’s class for wearing a shirt that wasn’t green enough.”

We asked the professor whether he regretted the suffering he’d caused.

“Well, what are they going to do?” he chuckled, “Not fulfill the Living World requirement?”