Wolfe to Teach 9.00By Deena Disraelly
Jeremy M. Wolfe PhD '81, formerly an Associate Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, will once again teach Introduction to Psychology (9.00) this fall as a Visiting Associate Professor, said Philip S. Khoury, Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Wolfe, now an Associate Professor of Opthamology at Harvard Medical School, was denied tenure here in 1990, fueling a debate over the importance of teaching within a research university.
"I think that we're very fortunate to have him teaching 9.00, which is a basic feeding subject to all of Psychology," said Khoury.
Wolfe has been teaching 9.00 for ten years, and was awarded the Baker Foundation Teaching Award for excellence in undergraduate teaching in 1989. The next year, Wolfe was denied tenure by the Whitaker College of Health Sciences and Technology.
"[Denying Wolfe tenure] was one of the stupidest things that MIT has done," said Rosalie Schneider G, who took Wolfe's class in 1987. "He was one of the best instructors in this whole school."
`I'd never have to teach again'
Wolfe, who is working at Brigham and Women's Hospital for Harvard Medical School's Center for Clinical Cataract Research, is now researching various visual problems and studying visual attention, or "how you find something you are looking for in a crowded scene," he said.
"If I wanted to, in the position I'm in now, I would never have to teach again, and in my case, that would be a pity," said Wolfe, who enjoys teaching and believes he does it fairly well. Although he has the opportunity to speak in seminars and lecture series, Wolfe thinks he would miss teaching the undergraduate students.
The students would miss him also. Zemer Gitai '96 attended one of Wolfe's 9.00 lectures as a prospective freshman and said, "He's the reason I want to take Psychology first term."
Wolfe's class has consistently been among the most popular courses at MIT. In 1991, 20% of the freshman class enrolled in 9.00. Based on past figures, close to 400 students are expected to attempt to enroll in Wolfe's class, but only 300 will be accepted. A list of accepted students should be available next week.
"It was one of my favorite classes because he actually made learning fun, and it was a class I actually enjoyed attending," Schneider explained.
Bonnie Ky '95 agreed: "He's very enthusiastic. He keeps the class exciting and is a good lecturer."
"I think he is an absolutely first-rate teacher with an unusually strong commitment to undergraduate education," said Khoury.
But Khoury admitted that the Psychology Minor Program, created by Wolfe, may not fare well without him. "I am concerned about our ability to sustain the minor program, but believe we are doing well so far," said Khoury. His concern stems from the fact that maintaining the minor requires a faculty commitment to its continued existence.
Wolfe has been looking forward to the class, which begins today. But he says he will miss the day-to-day interaction with students he enjoyed as an MIT faculty member and a freshman advisor. Although he does not anticipate returning to MIT, Wolfe said he "would not rule out [full-time teaching] as a possibility either here or at another university."
"As long as the department still wants me and I can still manage to find the time in my schedule, I plan to continue teaching undergraduates at MIT," Wolfe said.