The website, owned by MTV, allows students to read and write reviews about professors and has almost 50,000 rated professors listed.
The best are catalogued into lists like Highest Rated, Hottest and even the Fun List, in groups of 25.
“I got an email from the site about it, but I kind of forgot about it for a while,” Vlachos-Weber said. “I didn’t really think it was legit. But after I realized it was, it felt very validating. It’s nice to be appreciated for doing something you love.”
Bill Hetrick, chair of the Psychological and Brain Sciences department, said he wasn’t surprised when he heard about Vlachos-Weber’s award.
He said Vlachos-Weber, a two-time winner of IU’s Student’s Choice Award for Outstanding Faculty, is no exception, having landed herself is a mentor to many of her students, helping them navigate their academic and professional lives.
“We are truly fortunate to call her one of our own,” he said in an email.
Her students agree.
“She finds the perfect balance of treating students like adults while still realizing that we’re still kids at heart,” said junior Matthew Gillam. “She always tells crazy stories about her kids, her husband or her family.”
Vlachos-Weber said having the opportunity to share such stories is one of the perks of her job.
“I feel like a stand-up comic in class,” Vlachos-Weber said. “I like being funny.”
Her reviews on the website attest to that.
Comments written by students describe her as hilarious and amazing, and more than one even claim her to be a goddess, with all of the above often in affectionate caps lock.
“No other professor can keep a class’ attention as well as she can,” said Kaitlin Shoemaker, another former student said. “In most big lectures, you have students on Facebook, talking or not paying attention at all, but her classes aren’t like that.”
But students aren’t the only ones who love being in the classroom with her.
“I don’t know of anyone who puts more of herself into her teaching,” said James Craig, who has co-taught a seminar with Vlachos-Weber for the last five years. “I have seen her waving her arms back and forth to simulate an auditory hair cell and then slumping over to show what happens when you expose your ear to too much noise.”
He said it’s not a lesson students easily forget.
“I feed off of energy from the kids,” Vlachos-Weber said. “And I’m glad that teaching is where all my energy gets to go. I don’t have research labs or anything like that. I’m very student-driven.”
Carlo DiMarco, senior vice president of strategic partnerships and development at mtvU, said the brand sought to recognize the nation’s top professors.
“Overall, we look for every chance to spotlight what students determine to be the nation’s best professors and schools, which is why we’ve released our recent Top Lists,” DiMarco said. “We’re very excited that Professor Vlachos-Weber of IU made the list.”
Vlachos-Weber has been teaching at IU steadily for 10 years. Her strategy is excitement, she said.
“If the kids don’t see that I’m in love with what I’m doing, how can they love it?” she said. “I try to light a spark in them.”
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