Professor teaches last course at ND
Published: Thursday, December 9, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 12:09
Marketing professor John Weber, nicknamed "Weebs," said he lives by three rules — have fun, be nice to everyone and think about turtles once in a while.
Weber taught his last class at Notre Dame Wednesday after 42 years as a member of the faculty, but said the "Turtle Club," created by his seven grandchildren, will continue to grow.
Weber invites his students and friends to join the club, even giving them laminated membership cards and a club certificate that lists the three rules, Weber said.
"The silly stuff like that is reflective of my years here because I like to have a lot of fun and I like to be close to students," Weber said. "That is the hallmark of my time here."
Weber built long-lasting friendships with many Notre Dame undergraduates during his time as a professor, a Hall Fellow in Morrissey Hall and the moderator of the Marketing Club.
"I have always been very social," Weber said. "From the start, the most enjoyable part of teaching for me has been interfacing with the students."
Weber began teaching at the University in 1969. He arrived at Notre Dame at the same time as Mendoza's first copy machine.
"There were only 40 faculty members in the College of Business at that time," Weber said.
Notre Dame began to expand and build a reputation as a research university, and Mendoza currently employs almost 200 faculty members, Weber said.
"The research expectations in the College of Business have just gone through the roof. I feel very concerned about the younger faculty because it is very difficult to achieve tenure now," Weber said. "That relates back to interfacing with students. It is difficult for young faculty today to set aside time for undergraduate students."
Weber saw positive changes in the University as well.
"Admitting women allowed us to keep up the quality of our students and round out the male part of our student body from a maturity view," Weber said. "Having women as an integral part of all dimensions of campus life better prepares all our students for the real world, a world where women are increasingly playing leadership roles."
Weber said leadership in the College of Business led the University to its current ranking as the No. 1 school for undergraduate business in the nation.
"While some colleges still have relatively high student to faculty ratios, we have added more faculty," Weber said. "We are willing to bring in the big guns to help improve our standing among national and international universities."
Campus facilities and technology also allowed students to learn more, Weber said.
Senior Tom Smith signed up for Weber's Business to Business marketing course because of recommendations from friends.
"I heard he was a great professor even though this was an 8 a.m. course. I honestly never thought I would make it to every 8 a.m. class, but I can successfully say I did it," Smith said. "And I stayed awake every day."
Smith said Weber constantly reached out to his class and even hosted a cookout for them in his home.
"He visibly cares about his students," Smith said. "Of all the teachers I have had here, he has done the most to connect to his students."
In 2001, Weber was made an honorary member of the Class of 1981 and remains close with students from that class.
Dan Tarullo, a 1981 graduate, lived in Morrissey Hall while Weber was a Hall Fellow and is one of almost 30 alumni who participate in the "Weeb's Open," an annual golf tournament and informal reunion in late July.
Over 15 members of this group hosted a surprise dinner for Weber Tuesday evening and visited his class Wednesday morning.
"This group here has been together over 30 years and we come back together every year because of this man," Tarullo said.
The group shared stories about Thursday night bowling, cookouts and golf scrambles with Weber's current students. They recounted tales of Weber when he stole bowling shoes and jumped into a pond at a local golf course in a victory celebration.
Weber said the long-standing friendships he formed with students are the most valuable product of his time at Notre Dame.
"It all starts with one-on-one personal relationships with students. The first rule of the Turtle Club is to have fun," Weber said. "You have to have fun."