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Genius: Student Who Corrected Math Professor in Packed Lecture Hall Gains Tenure


Photo by University of the Fraser Valley / CC BY 2.0 

It was yet another boring day in Math 114, and Brandon Cole (E ‘22) was on the verge of passing out. However, just as he was about to doze off, something on the whiteboard caught his eye. 

Hm? Could it be?

Now wide awake, Cole sat up in his seat and licked his lips. No doubt about it: this was his lucky break.

Instead of x squared, Professor Tibbitts had written a plain, bald x.

Realizing his grave mistake, the panicked professor lunged his marker toward the faulty variable in an attempt to make amends. But alas, a golden voice from the back of the lecture hall stopped him dead in his tracks. Turning around, Professor Tibbitts gazed upon the hero-king Brandon, academic interloper supreme.

“E-excuse me, professor,” Cole began, pushing up his glasses and clearing his phlegm-filled throat. “I think you forgot to square x.

The entire class erupted in applause. Cheers of "genius!" filled the air as Cole took a bow and dabbed. Professor Tibbitts, and all of his years of training, were done for, utterly defeated by the freshman’s astute observation.

Paraded by his peers down to the podium, Cole dethroned Professor Tibbitts to become the new King of Calculus, the Duke of Derivatives, the Sultan of Surface Integrals.

And who's this running in from the back? Why, none other than President Amy Gutmann, a permanent job contract resting in her hand.

“You’ve done our Penn community well, Brandon,” Gutmann said with a smile. “Sign here, you brilliant Quaker, you.”

Today, Professor Cole maintains a healthy 3.6 rating on Penn Course Review despite the fact that he still doesn’t know how to do laundry on his own.