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NYU Professor Scott Galloway: Ouch

February 23, 2010

A  student in the NYU Stern School of Business wrote an email to business school professor Scott Galloway complaining about the professor’s late policy. He arrived one hour late and the professor dismissed him. He wrote an email to Galloway saying that he was “bothered” by the late policy. Read Professor Galloway’s response.

I ‘laughed my butt off” reading this email.

FYI Scott Galloway is the founder of redenvelope.com. He was on the New York Times board of directors before resigning last week.  He has a reputation for being a “self-important jackass” ( according to A.J. Daulerio via deadspin.com)

Ha Ha. pure comedy. Enjoy

Sent: Tuesday, February 9, 2010 7:15:11 PM GMT -08:00 US/Canada Pacific
Subject: Brand Strategy Feedback

Prof. Galloway,

I would like to discuss a matter with you that bothered me. Yesterday evening I entered your 6pm Brand Strategy class approximately 1 hour late. As I entered the room, you quickly dismissed me, saying that I would need to leave and come back to the next class. After speaking with several students who are taking your class, they explained that you have a policy stating that students who arrive more than 15 minutes late will not be admitted to class.

As of yesterday evening, I was interested in three different Monday night classes that all occurred simultaneously. In order to decide which class to select, my plan for the evening was to sample all three and see which one I like most. Since I had never taken your class, I was unaware of your class policy. I was disappointed that you dismissed me from class considering (1) there is no way I could have been aware of your policy and (2) considering that it was the first day of evening classes and I arrived 1 hour late (not a few minutes), it was more probable that my tardiness was due to my desire to sample different classes rather than sheer complacency.

I have already registered for another class but I just wanted to be open and provide my opinion on the matter.

Regards,
xxxx


xxxx
MBA 2010 Candidate
NYU Stern School of Business
xxxx.nyu.edu
xxx-xxx-xxxx

The Reply:

—— Forwarded Message ——-
From: scott@stern.nyu.edu
To: “xxxx”
Sent: Tuesday, February 9, 2010 9:34:02 PM GMT -08:00 US/Canada Pacific
Subject: Re: Brand Strategy Feedback

xxxx:

Thanks for the feedback. I, too, would like to offer some feedback.

Just so I’ve got this straight…you started in one class, left 15-20 minutes into it (stood up, walked out mid-lecture), went to another class (walked in 20 minutes late), left that class (again, presumably, in the middle of the lecture), and then came to my class. At that point (walking in an hour late) I asked you to come to the next class which “bothered” you.

Correct?

You state that, having not taken my class, it would be impossible to know our policy of not allowing people to walk in an hour late. Most risk analysis offers that in the face of substantial uncertainty, you opt for the more conservative path or hedge your bet (e.g., do not show up an hour late until you know the professor has an explicit policy for tolerating disrespectful behavior, check with the TA before class, etc.). I hope the lottery winner that is your recently crowned Monday evening Professor is teaching Judgement and Decision Making or Critical Thinking.

In addition, your logic effectively means you cannot be held accountable for any code of conduct before taking a class. For the record, we also have no stated policy against bursting into show tunes in the middle of class, urinating on desks or taking that revolutionary hair removal system for a spin. However, xxxx, there is a baseline level of decorum (i.e., manners) that we expect of grown men and women who the admissions department have deemed tomorrow’s business leaders.

xxxx, let me be more serious for a moment. I do not know you, will not know you and have no real affinity or animosity for you. You are an anonymous student who is now regretting the send button on his laptop. It’s with this context I hope you register pause…REAL pause xxxx and take to heart what I am about to tell you:

xxxx, get your shit together.

Getting a good job, working long hours, keeping your skills relevant, navigating the politics of an organization, finding a live/work balance…these are all really hard, xxxx. In contrast, respecting institutions, having manners, demonstrating a level of humility…these are all (relatively) easy. Get the easy stuff right xxxx. In and of themselves they will not make you successful. However, not possessing them will hold you back and you will not achieve your potential which, by virtue of you being admitted to Stern, you must have in spades. It’s not too late xxxx…

Again, thanks for the feedback.

Professor Galloway

37 Comments leave one →
  1. nerdtalker permalink
    March 9, 2010 12:49 am

    I’ve got a professor like this, and it’s even worse. Constant quizzes, an attendance sheet that’s passed around every morning at 8 AM sharp, and tests that run 3.5 hours. Not easy subject matter either; difficult math, geometry, and physics (it’s an optics course).

    I can feel that student’s pain and at the same time empathize with the professor. I hate interruptions as a student just as much as I’m sure I’d hate them as a teacher.

  2. Omer Zach permalink
    March 9, 2010 12:57 am

    The kids sounds like as much of a jackass as the professor (if not more so). He should’ve emailed the professor or at least a TA before planning to walk into a class mid-lecture. And apparently he could’ve just come to the class after it instead of interrupting in the middle?

  3. March 9, 2010 1:00 am

    I can’t wait to see the kid’s response back.

  4. Anonymous permalink
    March 9, 2010 2:54 am

    The problem here is that the professor is under the mistaken impression that the student is an employee of his class. As a student you pay to take classes. When the kid gets a job and someone is paying him, it’s a completely different situation. Too many college professors take up the position that they’re running a business and the student is his worker. Considering the going rate of a credit hour, the professor could have showed a little bit of leniency in what is obviously a fringe case. That or he could have paid the student and just docked him for the hour he missed.

  5. March 9, 2010 3:10 am

    this was hilarious. go professor galloway!

  6. Anonymous permalink
    March 9, 2010 3:13 am

    Student interrupted class he was not registered for. Student wrong. Professor completely within rights to boot the brat. Respect is important. Disrupting others while they are learning in the class they did sign up for is rude. Professor is right. Get your $$$$ together. It matters.

  7. Anonymous permalink
    March 9, 2010 3:13 am

    Just more anecdotal evidence in support of my belief that being a self-interested, self-important prick improves your chances of becoming highly successful.

    i.e., Such people are over-represented among the highly-successful.

  8. journeyman permalink
    March 9, 2010 3:17 am

    The professor wants to administer bitter medicine.

    The student kind of needs it. (more of a reflection/statement of myself than anything)

  9. Aaron permalink
    March 9, 2010 3:24 am

    I agree, students are paying a LOT of money to go to class, especially for grad school. For an isolated incident, I don’t think the professor has the right to be so harsh in his treatment. While it may be disrespectful to walk in an hour late, the student is playing good money to be at that institution, and he deserves some leniency as such.

    • Mike permalink
      May 17, 2010 1:05 am

      He may be paying a lot, but so is every other student in that class. 29 students having their lecture interrupted by 1? Cost-analysis says boot the one and reward the 29.

    • Casey permalink
      January 14, 2011 5:11 pm

      “. . . the student is playing good money to be at that institution, and he deserves some leniency as such.”

      Oh please. As a grad. student, xxxx is paying a lot of money to learn. Truly successful students don’t stop at what the course description says they are going to learn, but take constructive criticism from their professors whenever offered. It doesn’t help this student at all to show up an hour late to class becasue he was sampling two others and be told, “Well, come on in! Golly gee, I hope you pick this one!” What if he showed up to an interview late because he was trying to decide which one to go to and essentially said that he had finally decided to grace the interviewer with his presence? That would not end well.

      All that said, I would not have kicked the student out of my class on the first day, even if he had arrived an hour late – I never pay attention to attendance/tardiness the first week of school. However, had a student been so foolish as to offer that particular explanation for his lateness and/or send that email, I likely would have responded similarly. Professor Galloway’s wording may be a bit patronizing, but his message is an important one.

  10. Anonymous permalink
    March 9, 2010 4:48 am

    A lot of American students need to learn about manners, respect and responsibility!

  11. John Small Berries permalink
    March 9, 2010 4:58 am

    If the response is verbatim (apart from replacing the student’s name with ‘xxxx’), then Professor Galloway has even worse punctuational skills than many first-year students whose papers I have had the misfortune to grade. Disgraceful.

    • ljianglx permalink
      March 10, 2010 3:29 am

      Dear Mr. John Small Berries,
      No wonder that your middle name is “Small”, you are incapable of seeing the larger picture here. Who cares about the “punctuational skills”(if there is such a thing). Prof. Galloway taught xxxx the most memorable lesson that his tuition could ever buy. By the way, I hope your brain measures up with your mustache.

      • Baldrz permalink
        March 10, 2010 11:51 am

        In an environment where “brand strategy” makes up an entire class, language skills aren’t considered too important and mindless zero-tolerance policies are necessary to keep the little drones in their seats. But in the real world, instructors are expected to be able to communicate effectively and treat students as human beings.

      • Anonymous permalink
        March 10, 2010 11:53 am

        Wrong! Punctuation and grammar are not optional, nor are they unimportant. Our culture on the whole is being dumbed-down at an alarming rate by complacence and laziness.

        Having said that, I wholeheartedly agree with Professor Galloway. Tardiness is almost as egregious a sin as misspelling/mispunctuating.

      • John Small Berries permalink
        March 12, 2010 1:52 am

        Who cares about punctuation? Why, anyone who comprehends that the written word serves as a representative of its author. In situations where your writing may be the only basis other people have to form an impression of you, poor use of punctuation (along with grammar and spelling) will have a direct bearing on that impression.

        The rules of English punctuation are not complex, and — barring a genuine learning disability — require no Herculean effort to employ properly. For a professional educator to display such a lack of facility with a skill generally learned in elementary school reflects poorly upon him, poorly upon the educational institution that employs him, and poorly on his entire profession.

        Finally, regarding your aspersions cast upon my nom de comment and the accompanying image: in intelligent debate, the ad hominem attack is generally viewed as a signal that the person who employs it has no rational arguments to inject into a discussion.

    • Muriel permalink
      March 11, 2010 11:13 am

      I know neither punctuation nor grammar, but aren’t the rules different in email than they are in formal papers or snail mail? I thought you could be more lax in your punctuation style in email? or was that just my excuse?

      • Anonymous permalink
        March 23, 2010 5:30 am

        Muriel, I don’t mean to be pithy, but you definitely ‘know’ grammar and punctuation. Your grammar isn’t perfect, but you definitely ‘know’ grammar as a concept. But this illustrates a good point: many people don’t necessarily take the time to develop an adequate level of professionalism in their writing. The University–as an entity–is being constantly financially incentivized to provide increasingly utilitarian class selections by business leaders, who realize they can cut staff from their own companies if they donate in large lump sums to train people on business theory. Money shapes education. If a CEO donates a lump sum of 10 million dollars to a University, that money will go to making sure people are taught to do business his way, he can cut out wages for training staff may save him 15 million dollars over three years. Our education landscape is being constantly reshaped according to the flow of cash. It’s actually quite alarming.

        Wow. Rant. Digressing. What was it…? Ah yes! The importance of punctuation.

        When you read words on a page (like these ones right here!), your ability to judge inflection and derive meaning are dramatically reduced. Punctuation and Grammar make your writing precise and enjoyable; that is why they are important. Misusing Punctuation and Grammar make you look like a fourteen-year-old girl on a social networking site.

        btw i hope u guyz d0nt thnk im like a snothead or somfring

  12. March 9, 2010 5:01 am

    Wow, I am an undergraduate and this is soooo weird! How “interrupting” or “disrespectful” could it be to walk in and out of class? Making a lot of noise is interrupting. Giving the professor dirty looks while exiting the class is disrespectful. But the student has every right to get a feel for the way the professor lectures before registering for one. Checking with the TA beforehand – seriously? That is so much overload to the actual action that you’re going to do: open the door, spot a seat, and sit down, quietly. I think the professor completely overreacted. The student could have apologized, but I do think it’s fair that he didn’t – he really should not be held accountable for such a simple act.

    • Baldrz permalink
      March 10, 2010 11:37 am

      Exactly. It’s entirely possible to enter a classroom without disrupting the class, and if that’s what the student did, there’s no good reason to kick him out.

  13. March 9, 2010 5:43 am

    While the student is paying, the student needs to learn. Teachers shouldn’t treat their students like clients because it would just foster an entitlement mentality in the student. US schools are used to turn students into employees; thus they should be treated as such.

  14. Jeff permalink
    March 9, 2010 7:42 am

    I agree with the professor. It’s annoying to the teacher and the students to have people coming and going in the middle of class. If everyone had this pop in and out of class logic, class would basically not work, so I don’t see why xxxx should have the privilege. His reaction might have been a bit over the top, but xxxx deserved it.

  15. March 9, 2010 8:02 am

    As a business prof myself, I can understand the tardiness policy. However I don’t agree with the prof’s email response. He should have just said “Rules are rules, but I hope you take the class.”. A lot more gracious and a lot more understanding. Unfortunately, for the prof, he’s an MBA working in a PhD land. Most b-school instructors with only MBA’s have horrible insecurities, and his ‘analysis’ reflects that.

    • Muriel permalink
      March 11, 2010 11:15 am

      That’s an extremely boring response, perhaps less inflammatory, but this is much more entertaining!

  16. March 9, 2010 8:23 am

    The most egregious part is the Prof.’s elementary math error.

    Question: A student goes to three classes, each for approximately the same amount of time. He arrives at the third course approximately an hour after the first one started – how long was the student in each of the first two classes?

    Professor: 15-20 minutes!

    (He mistakenly divided 1 hour by three and tried to account for travel time. Of course he should have divided by two.)

    In combination with his grammatical skills, I’d say the Prof needs to get HIS shit together!

  17. sbharti permalink
    March 9, 2010 3:59 pm

    given the hectic schedule, profs do need daily dose of stress-busters.. he actually thanks the student in the end.. i guess the poor guy got busted that night and the prof had a sound sleep :D lol

  18. March 9, 2010 4:05 pm

    Professor Galloway: 1

    Student with rabid sense of entitlement: nothing

  19. THE FALCON permalink
    March 9, 2010 6:45 pm

    I just love the dialogue.

  20. March 10, 2010 6:53 am

    classes *would* work, classes *do* work, all the time with no such late policies. unlike what you may think, even with a very lenient policy for attendance, such as in my school (MIT), students attend classes on time, and the ones that are late simply walk in quietly. i never felt that incoming or outgoing students were being disruptive. also, after about 10 minutes into the lecture, nobody walks in any more, because that usually means they can’t attend lecture, virtually nobody just walks to class late out of laziness – if they’re lazy, they don’t show up.

    it is incredible how the professor compares urinating on desks with being late to class. this shows to me that he is extremely self-centered and interprets the lateness as a deliberate personal message. he should recognize that the world and the student’s lives don’t revolve around his class. students can have a million and one reasons to come late or go early. sampling classes is just one of them. interviews, some benign accident on the way to class, etc. are other common reasons.

    for god’s sake, they are grownup students, there is something called “benefit of the doubt”. in a large class, a subset of students are going to have some reason to be late or leave early, and they should be given the benefit of the doubt that they are making the right judgment for themselves. it is not at all an act of rudeness to the professor, but simply a matter of fortune and sometimes prioritizing (such as if you have an interview or want to sample classes) on the student’s part.

    • Baldrz permalink
      March 10, 2010 11:45 am

      Well put! Professors at my college didn’t have “late policies”; no one would have even thought of such a thing, and any professor who tried it would have been laughed off campus as a self-important jerk. Did chaos result? Hardly! Students showed up on time out of respect for their instructors and a desire to learn, and when they had to arrive late, they did so with good reason and caused as little disruption as possible. Someone needs to tell Professor Insecure that respect works both ways.

      • Jessica B. permalink
        March 11, 2010 1:35 am

        Unfortunately, students in college no longer have respect for instructors. They will do whatever you let them get away with. Hence we must treat like children those who act that way.

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Trackbacks

  1. Galloway from those ellipses, sir. « Perplexed with Narrow Passages
  2. NYU Professor Scott Galloway: Ouch
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