What's Your Most Unforgettable Classroom Memory?

In the spring/summer 2022 issue of Think, we asked alumni: What's Your Most Unforgettable Classroom Memory?

Black and white full body photo of Jesse Shera reading in the library.Jesse SheraCourtesy of Case Western Reserve University Archives

“I was specializing in young adult work in the School of Library Science at Western Reserve University. The dean, Jesse Shera, was fascinated by this new field of automation and initiated [a] project on the campus. I was invited to attend a demonstration ... There was a huge mainframe computer with all those [punch] cards! I could not imagine or predict what the outcome would be. Years later, I was astonished that our library school had this development in 1956, 1957.”

— Lia N. Staaf (LYS ’57)

Black and white portrait photo of Robert BairdPhoto: Courtesy of Case Western Reserve University Archives

Robert Baird

“One of my favorite professors was Dr. Tom McFarland. For the class on pre-Elizabethan drama, he presented Gammer Gurton’s Needle, [one of the earliest English comedies still in existence and which] has a bunch of farm country folk with a problem. ‘Dr. Tom’ performed the dialogue, changing his voice ... [for] the various characters. We were in stitches! For the midterm of the course on Shakespearean tragedy, [he] wrote two items on the chalkboard that represented the whole test. The first was ‘Discuss King Lear.’ One student raised his hand ... ‘Can you give us some idea of what you are looking for?’ Dr. McFarland looked him over and then said: ‘You had 60 minutes for this exam. You now have 59 minutes.’”

— Myron Bud Stern (CLC ’66; GRS ’67, ’72, psychology)

“Cleveland winters could be brutal when the wind came whipping in off Lake Erie. Most of us lived in the dorms or frat houses and walked to classrooms. By the time we got to class, our winter coats were literally frozen stiff. We ‘stood’ them next to the radiators, so that by the end of class we could put them on again. All through class, you could hear one coat after another hit the floor as it thawed. Of course, there was also an accompanying snicker, guffaw or an outright group laugh as the coats went down.”

— Dennis W. Tidwell (ADL ’70)

Black and white portrait photo of Tom EckPhoto: Courtesy of Case Western Reserve University Archives

Tom Eck

“I took Robert Baird’s microeconomics course during spring 1984 and remember his beer analogy for marginal rate of return: how it eventually decreases with each additional beer consumed and can ultimately become a negative rate of return.”

— Dominick Celentano (WRC ’86)

“My favorite classroom memory is of physics professor Tom Eck demonstrating conservation of angular momentum. He had a bike wheel with handles on the axle and was sitting on an old flat-disk lab stool. Eck held the wheel vertically and had a student spin it really hard. Once it was going well, he turned the wheel horizontal, which started him spinning on the stool. Starting, stopping, clockwise, counter-clockwise. The whole time laughing and trying to stay on the stool!!! Truly memorable and essential learning for a tough concept!!”

— Tom Robertson (CIT ’86; GRS ’96, mechanical engineering)

Black and white portrait photo of Ignacio OcasioPhoto: Courtesy of Case Western Reserve University Archives

Ignacio Ocasio

“The most unforgettable classroom memory for me was getting pointed at and called on by name in my first general chemistry lecture in Strosacker [Auditorium] by the late, great—and my mentor—Doc Oc. Dr. [Ignacio] Ocasio would memorize the face and name of every incoming freshman student off the picture that you submitted with your application. There had to be at least 300 students in each of his lectures. What an amazing man, professor and friend.”

— David Kachmarik (CWR ’98)

Our next question: What song most reminds you of your days on campus and why?

We’d love to hear from you. Please send us your memories for inclusion in the spring/summer 2023 issue of Think by emailing