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Rating professors: hot or not?

MtvU’s RateMyProfessors.com launched its first annual ranking on Oct. 10 of the highest rated college professors and faculty on the Web site.

The Top-50 lists are titled Highest Rated Professors, Hottest College Professors and Schools with Top Rated Faculties. Votes were gathered on the site from more than 7.5 million student-generated ratings of more than one million U.S. college professors.

University of Southern Florida ranked No. 29 on the Schools with Top Rated Faculties list. Kathy Carvalho-Knighton, a chemistry professor at the St. Petersburg campus, and Karla Davis-Salazar, an anthropology professor at the Tampa campus, both made the list of “Hottest College Professors.”

“I would prefer that students were listening to what I was saying rather than paying attention to my appearance,” Salazar said. “I would hope students’ class choices wouldn’t be based on the ratings – that’s scary.”

Dr. Rick Wilber, a mass communications professor at USF, believes RateMyProfessors.com is “wrong-headed” in some aspects because it asks students to rate on a criterion like “hotness.”

“Standout Professors” lists 10 professors, in no particular order, who regularly “go the extra mile” and receive “stellar reviews” on their RateMyProfessors.com pages.

The Web site also introduced an application that allows students to access teachers’ ratings via Facebook, and “Professor’s Rebuttal” gives professors an opportunity to respond to comments and ratings left by students.

RateMyProfessors.com was introduced in 1999 and is the highest trafficked college professor rating Web site in the United States, covering nearly 6,000 schools.

More than 150,000 college students access the Web site per day.

“I don’t know how I got by without (the Web site),” said Thomas Cardillo, a USF senior majoring in gerontology. “I passed the site on to my sister and cousin – who also attend USF – and they use it every time they pick their class schedules.”

Denise Nicholas, academic specialist for the College of Mass Communications at USF, doesn’t have a problem with the Web site.

“I think the site is cool,” she said. “I used it as an undergradate.””

MTV’s 24-hour university network, mtvU, recently launched “Professors Strike Back,” offering professors 30-second video segments to argue their position on comments and ratings posted by students on RateMyProfessors.com.

Wilber said professor and journalism department head Paul Levinson, his good friend at Fordham University, was asked to give his 30-second take on specific comments.

After a professor purported his or her side to students’ comments, he or she was asked to give an assessment of

RateMyProfessors.com. Many professors didn’t oppose the Web site, but felt it “should be taken with a grain of salt.”

Wilber said he considered the Web site “silly entertainment.” It is a fun place for students to vent, he said, but students sometimes misunderstand the class and take the professor to task.

“I’ve always been leery of the site,” Salazar stated.

“(RateMyProfessor.com) was introduced to me by a grad student when I first came to the University in 2003. People can say whatever they want.”

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