UChicago Law Students Gave Obama Big Thumbs-up
White House hopeful Barack Obama could have given it all up for the gentler life of a law professor.
A Sun-Times review of student evaluations from Obama's 10 years of teaching part-time at the University of Chicago Law School shows that students almost always rated Obama as one of their top instructors -- except for one quarter in 1997.
"Those are tremendous ratings, especially for someone who had a day job," Professor Cass Sunstein said. "We wanted him to join the faculty full-time at various different junctures. That's not a trivial fact. . . . If we want to hire someone, the faculty has to think they're tremendous. But he liked political life."
While a state senator, Obama held classes early on Monday and late on Friday during legislative sessions, running right through the school's popular Friday evening wine-and-cheese hour. Obama was so popular, students signed up for his class anyway.
"We'd be in class and get messages that he would come in 45 minutes late and everyone would wait for him," said former student Andrew Janis, now a New York lawyer.
"I loved teaching," Obama told the Sun-Times. "But when the opportunity came [to run for U.S. Senate] I took it. I think some of the public speaking skills I developed in the classroom -- stay on your toes; don't make my answers too long -- I'm using on the campaign trail."
Professor David Strauss, the only teacher with higher ratings than Obama in his last year at the school, said, "The students thought he was great. He thought abou