Inside look at professors’ offices: Part Deux

TEMP ORARY November 4, 2011 0

We usually see one side of our professors—the serious (but sometimes not) face they maintain while teaching us their trade. We’ve all had the awkward experience when we run into a professor outside of school and have that momentarily lapse in mind. “Professors have lives, too?” Well, obviously they do, and one way for them to show their personal lives to students is by expressing themselves in their offices.

“I usually see the wandering eyes from students,” said Dr. Colin Helb, assistant professor of communications, whose office is located in Steinman Center.
Helb’s office is adorned with toys from when he was a child, including Simpsons and Transformers figurines, California Raisins toys, an Ozzy Osbourne doll, Philadelphia Phillies memorabilia, some old 8 millimeter movies, a Beatles poster and a large replica of a chocolate chip cookie.

“The toys in my office are the ones that survived my childhood. I found them in a box in my mom’s basement and brought them to my office,” Helb said.
As Helb is a communications professor, he also has many different types of equipment in his office. Not too many professors have a television in their office, but Helb has one, in addition to old cameras and equipment that show the transition of older equipment to newer technology, all in one room.

Another professor with a unique office is Dr. Stephen Soltys, assistant professor of mathematics, whose office is in Esbenshade. He teaches secondary math education. Soltys’ office has an amazing view of Lake Placida. “I love the view, especially in the winter. I enjoy seeing the lake frozen and the snow outside my window,” Soltys said.

He also has a large electronic air freshener in his office, which he says is necessary after having members of the soccer team he used to coach come into his office after practicing.

Soltys has an office decorated with Philadelphia Eagles memorabilia, a proud display of a soccer ball signed by the soccer players he coached, a small refrigerator, a Temple University license plate and a silver statue from his office at West Chester. The statue displays a man deep in thought.

There also is a small dart board on the wall of Soltys’ office, giving him a distraction when needed. Base blocks and clickers are also there for his education students to use in teaching math to children.

“I usually have music playing, but I think the comfortable view is a big part of why students like my office,” Soltys said.

Dr. Charla Lorenzen is an assistant professor of modern language, and her office is located in the Wenger Center. Not only is she a Spanish professor, but she is also coordinating the new Spanish education major, which is similar to a double major in both Spanish and education. Those who complete the major will be certified to teach Spanish.

Lorenzen’s office really encompasses the Spanish culture. Students can see pictures from her trip to Ecuador, as well as a sheepskin painting she got as a souvenir there, a ceramic decoration from Cuba displaying coffee mugs, showing that Cuba is known for its coffee, and pictures from Costa Rica. A shawl from Spain, where she lived on and off for three years, adorns her desk, as well as a Spanish fan.

There are also a few souveniers from Mexico and Spain to ward off evil spirits and the evil eye. “That seems to be a common theme in the culture,” Lorenzen commented. “I like to bring things representative of different countries to my office.” Lorenzen collects something from every place she has travelled.

“My office is small, so I try to make it a pleasant space where I enjoy spending time,” Lorenzen said. “I have coffee and cookies for students who visit my office, and I want them to feel it is a cozy place to meet.”

During the Wenger renovations, professors were allowed to choose between three colors of paint for their walls. Lorenzen’s husband had the idea to do two colors, so surrounding her desk are beige walls, while in the far corner, the walls are blue.

“The blue walls remind me of a social place, while the beige is my introspective place,” Lorenzen said.

Lorenzen’s office also displays a lot of artwork from someone very close to her: her husband. He is an artist and he gave her several pastel drawings from his sketchbook to place on her walls.

“I’m really attached to the painting showing the place we got engaged in Spain,” Lorenzen said.

Her husband also did a canvas piece based on Spain, including pictures taken there, gesture drawings of flamenco dancers and the actual shape of Spain. This seems to be a personal reminder to Lorenzen of her time in Spain, and there are bus tickets and flyers placed exactly on the map where they were actually used.

“No matter what age you are, you can have fun learning and using Spanish. I think it’s interesting to see how our society and the Spanish society portray things differently,” Lorenzen said. She also coordinates a children’s Spanish program, where children from the area can learn Spanish in a fun way.

“Students appreciate the culture in my office because it entertains them and helps them get to know who I am,” Lorenzen said. “We aren’t just the people you see in the classroom.”

Lorenzen makes a great point that is likely an important fact to be stressed by most professors: “If every single office or room looked the same, you’d become a faceless person.”

Professors are not always who they may seem in the classroom, so before you assume how they are or what they like, take a trip to their office to learn more about their unique personalities.

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