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The Professor Is In: Barry Morris

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Dyson’s hot shot prof Barry Morris shares his thoughts on the secret to in-class success, the desperation of stamp collectors, and why he’s too cool to sizzle in a Grant Kretchik class.

“Amazing professor. Absolutely hilarious. I wish I could take his class next semester. 10/10 would recommend.”

“Barry Morris is quite the character.”

“Morris is an awesome professor.”

These are just some of the things Pace students are writing about Barry Morris, PhD, associate professor and chair of Communication Studies in NYC. Since 1989, Morris has taught generations of Pace students the ins and outs of communication and the importance of personal presentation and speechmaking for success. During his time at Pace, Morris developed courses in geek culture, convergent media, writing for political communications, and many others. He’s a laid back professor with a knack for connecting with students—in the classroom, and on Twitter. Professor Morris shares his insight on career paths and experiential learning, and shows his notorious sense of humor and personality in this month’s issue of The Professor Is In.

What was one thing or person that made you passionate about your current career?

I don’t get when people who do what we do complain about their jobs. I get to come in here every day and do what I would do if I didn’t have a job—think about the way things work, the way things are connected, the bizarre in the mundane. Humans are creature of symbolic interaction, so I get to study everything.

What quality do you most value in your students?

Resilience. They pretty much all come from the land of bells and hall monitors. The ones who learn to adapt their behavior to their best interests instead of interpreting the lack of surveillance into a “Get Out of Jail Free” card are the ones who are going to do well. Classes aren’t a relay race of hurdles to pass. Students who are IN the class while they’re in the class go a long way with me.

What’s your advice to students to make the most out of their time in college?

First, believe it or not, you are never going to look back fondly on that three minutes you saved for standing in the hall when you pack up before the end of class. Second (don’t tell the Dean I said this), unless you are going to be a corporate lawyer, grad student or doctor, once you get your first real job no one will ever ask you for your GPA again. Go for the experience, not the grade. And for most of you who take this advice, the grade will come.

If you had to do it all over again and took another path, what profession would you choose? What profession would you not choose?

Not gonna lie: The only reason I went back to grad school was that I was bored with life. I never even thought of being a college professor. Taking the path of least resistance led me to where I am (see above). That said, my biggest failing in life is hating losing more than loving to win. I wanted to move to New York and be a comedy writer after I finished my PhD (much to the chagrin of my dissertation adviser), but I got offered a really good prof job, in Illinois, and as they say…

What is your favorite word? Least favorite word?

I’m a word person. So I can’t pick just one. Today’s favorite is concupiscent. Somebody somewhere, in history probably a guy, was looking for a word to describe strong sexual desire. Hard to believe that the guy who came up with "concupiscent" would ever have a use for the term. Dude blew it.

Least favorite? Philatelist. Be proud of “stamp collector.” Philatelist just makes you look desperate.

What is your guilty pleasure TV show or mobile app?

Right now, Supergirl…and The Flash, because his name is Barry Allen and other than his misspelling of Alan, so is mine. I experiment with most of the social media apps just to be able to converse about them, but other than Twitter I’m pretty invisible.

What was your favorite class as a student? Least favorite?

Favorite class was Bible As Literature at Purdue. The guy was fluent in like eight languages related to the subject, and he knew everything. If God had quoted from the Bible, Robert Magliola could have sued him for plagiarism. My least favorite (sorry, Grant Kretchik) was Theater I. I was Harold Hill my senior year in high school, dammit! No way was I going to lie on the dirty floor and pretend to be a strip of bacon! (see regrets above)

If you were a Pace student, what class would you like to take with another Pace professor?

I am not exaggerating at all to say I would be humbled to be in the class of almost any one of my peers at Pace. Maybe Kretchik’s Acting I.

What would you do if you had an extra hour every day?

Waste it in mindless pursuit of the magnificent in the trivial like I do during the other 24.

What is your favorite professional or personal journey/experience?

I don’t travel.

What is your favorite saying/words to live by?

The four words a person must never lose command of are “I might be wrong.”

If you could have any five people living or dead, imagined or real, as guests at a dinner party, who would you choose?

Who’s buying? I assume it’s me, so I’ll go with five dead ones. Who wants dessert?!


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