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Faculty Profile

William R. Anderson
The Michigan Alumnus 14

"I have a horror of boring the bet
ter students, so I have a tendency to
 cover a lot of material fast. This has 
the following effect: the better 
one-quarter of my students like my 
lectures, the middle half complain
 about my speed but admit they don’t have time to get bored, and
 the lower one-quarter wish I would
 drop dead."

So says William R. Anderson, as
sistant professor of botany. He's
 very candid in his assessment of 
Michigan students: "The graduate
 students in botany are generally 
excellent. Undergraduates are, as 
ever, mixed. Some are first-rate,
 some should not ever have been
 admitted, and others vary between
 those extremes."

Anderson sees himself as a bo
tanical research scientist first and a
 teacher second, but finds that his 
research suffers when he is in a 
non-teaching environment. As a
 result, he chose teaching in order to 
be a better researcher.

"I had an all-research job at a 
major museum, but I felt my mind
 was going stale, so I came back to 
the University in the hope that my 
own flame would burn brighter 
here. I have thereby suffered a tremendous loss of time for research, 
but I feel that the research I am 
doing and will do in the future will
 be of a higher quality."

"The aspect of teaching that is 
most gratifying to me," Anderson
 says, "is explaining a difficult concept to a single student and seeing
 the light suddenly dawn." The 
thing that gives him the least pleas
ure is sitting in meetings. "They 
seem to be a way of life for some 
academicians; for me they are slow 

Anderson reads while he walks to
 and from work. This, he says,
 "seems to infuriate some drivers, 
probably ones who already feel 
guilty about riding instead of walk
ing and can't stand the sight of a 
slob who is not only walking, but
 enjoying it."

His hobbies are backyard gar
dening and "lying on the sofa read
ing, drinking beer, listening to re
cords and taking naps. When they 
invent a sofa from which one can
 garden, my happiness will be com

The 35-year-old Anderson is
 married and the father of two chil