Claremont McKenna College has one of the country's best undergraduate teachers according to The Princeton Review. The Massachusetts-based education services companyknown for its test-prep courses, books, and student survey-based college rankingshas named John J. Pitney Jr., the Roy P. Crocker Professor of American Politics, to its new book, The Best 300 Professors (Random House/Princeton Review). The Princeton Review teamed up with RateMyProfessors.com to develop the book, which features professors in more than 60 fields from 122 colleges and universities across the nation. (The complete list of professors in the book is accessible online.)
With his typical humility, Pitney responded to the news by emphasizing the greatness of Claremont McKenna College and its students. "I think this is an honor for CMC," he said. "In a place like this, you have great students, and great students enable you to have a lot of fun on the job. The recognition is for the students."
Greg Hess, vice president for academic affairs, dean of the faculty, the James G. Boswell Professor of Economics and George R. Roberts Fellow, meanwhile says he's honored to have Pitney as a colleague. "Jack is an exceptional teacher-scholar, and a superb motivator and mentor for our students," Hess says. "He is a student-centered faculty member whose door is always open."
Publishers say the professors featured in the book are a truly select group: from an initial list of 42,000 professors considered, the final group of "best" professor chosen constitutes less than .02 percent of the roughly 1.8 million post-secondary teachers instructing students at colleges and universities across the U.S. "We developed this book as a tribute to the extraordinary dedication of America's undergraduate college professors and the vitally important role they play in our culture, and our democracy," says Robert Franek, Princeton Review's senior vice president/publisher. (See more below on "How Professors Were Chosen.")
In its profile on Professor Pitney, the editors refer to him as "one of the institutions that make CMC what it is." His political experience and connections add a dimension to his teaching that gets students "thinking seriously and critically about the subject matter," whether its in his Introduction to American Politics, Politics of Journalism, or his class on Congress, which provides an overview of the institution, along with a four-day-long, multi-college role-playing simulation of the U.S. Senate.
Pitney also blogs for every class he teaches, advises applicants for the Washington Semester Program, and stillsomehowfinds time outside of class to respond to media outlets across the country, on issues of state and local government. "It is a fact," notes one student in the new Best 300 Professors book, "that he is the most quoted political science professor in the nation."
"It is hard to pick up a newspaper without finding him quoted on the key political questions of the day," agrees Andrew Busch, chair of the department of government at CMC, Crown Professor of Government, and George R. Roberts Fellow. "Jack Pitney," he says, "is a real star in the classroom, and out of it. His dedication to his students is legendary, and CMC students are truly fortunate to have himas are his colleagues in the faculty." How The Professors Were Chosen The Princeton Review and RateMyProfessors.com annually collect data from students at thousands of colleges across the country (and abroad) about their classroom experiences and assessments of their professors. For this project, The Princeton Review culled an initial list using its surveys of hundreds of thousands of students that revealed the colleges at which students highly rated their professors' teaching ability and accessibility. Data from RateMyProfessors.com identified more than 42,000 professors at those schools that students had rated on its site. Combining this info, a base list of 1,000 professors was formed. After obtaining further input from school administrators and students, as well as from Princeton Review's surveys of the professors under consideration, the editors of The Princeton Review made the final choices of the professors they profile in the book.
Pitney and CMC students respond to the Princeton Review news in this video.