I can’t believe it’s been 25 years since my undergraduate graduation! Each year since the passing of my favorite professor, Dr. Michael Best, who was head of the Psychology Department and later dean of Deadman College, I’ve donated money in his honor.
In my opinion, Dr. Best: his large stature, red hair, and quirky personality represents what’s best about SMU and the academic experience. Surprisingly, many outside of the SMU family don’t realize the small student population, which affords students the benefit of small class sizes and advantage of full professors teaching all undergraduate classes. Additionally and even more special, many of our faculty members get to know students and establish a personal connection.
Of course, I remember Dr. Best carrying a brain encased in formaldehyde to and from our physiological psychology class and his stories of Wyoming, which were funny and personal! Most of all, I appreciated the opportunity to interrupt his dinnertime with questions about an upcoming exam, office hours outside of those that were “officially” posted and what I’ll never be able to repay … his personal encouragement to pursue my masters degree at SMU AND ensuring my acceptance when test scores alone didn’t warrant it.
Just before our MA graduation ceremony, he shared the story of his “bet” with the graduate dean of admissions and congratulated me on proving that too much fun in undergraduate years didn’t mean lack of future performance! In a very real way, if not for his backing, I would not have had the opportunity to pursue a graduate degree.
Sadly, Dr. Michael Best was only 48 when he died suddenly of a heart attack. In large part, Dr. Best is the reason for the trajectory of my career and I’m grateful to him and SMU for literally helping to shape my future. Thanks again to him and for the opportunity to share this special memory … he is not forgotten!