Rock Star Prof

November 10th, 2010

The September/October issue brought a tear to my eye. Dean Barrett Hazeltine changed my life, made me believe in myself, and proved to me that I belonged and could excel at Brown ("Engineering Better Students," Elms).

Prior to 2001 the Ivy League had "athletic admissions." We all knew who we were—none of us was the typical Brown student. We were mostly large, white male football players or men of color; none of us had been high school valedictorians. We were the ones on financial aid who had work-study jobs in the Ratty. Our goals were simple: we would perform on the athletic field and excite the alumni, and in the end increase alumni donations. We hoped to graduate in four or five years before our eligibility expired.

We also certainly did not have the high graduation rates of nonathletes, but I survived, flourished, and am now living a life I could only have dreamed of—thanks to Dean Barrett Hazeltine.

In fall 1989 I entered Brown as a "football playing redneck tree farmer from Oregon." I arrived at Brown believing that I did not belong, and I struggled against my own self-inflicted stigma for two years, unwilling to accept the idea that Brown is what an individual is willing to make it to be. Two years later I enrolled in ENG09, and my life changed.

All of a sudden this rock-star professor was calling me out in class and validating that I was intelligent, that I added to the vitality and vibrancy of his class. Not only was his energy contagious, but more importantly his weekly challenges forced me to realize and accept that I, Michael Poorman, belonged at Brown University, and if I failed, it was on me, not the system, the school, or where I came from. For the first time, I became a Brown University student, on par with the valedictorian from Choate or Andover.

The last sixteen years have been a whirlwind of success, Internet startups, IPOs, three kids, and Lap-Band surgery. At the end of the day, I still remember my ENG09 professor, and four words still ring loudly as hell in my mind: "Are we still friends?" My answer is, "Yes we are, I will never forget that you are my friend!!!" Thank you, Dean Hazeltine.

Michael J. Poorman '94
Battle Ground, Wash.



I read with interest the article about Barrett Hazeltine in the September/October issue. Although I agree in principle with everything in the story, it neglected one important fact.

While I was at Brown during the late 1970s, I knew Barrett Hazeltine in his capacity as associate dean of the College. As a dean, he interacted with students of all stripes, not only engineering students. I do not exaggerate when I say that he was a legend in his own time and helped countless students, including several of my friends, as they grappled with their futures.

Dean Hazeltine was also instrumental in assisting me as I claimed a student fellowship to study abroad. I am forever indebted to his dedication and interest in me. He changed my life with his kindness, humility, and wisdom. He was, and is, an inspirational figure. Thank you, Dean Hazeltine.

Alison Withey '80
Encinitas, Calif.



Best Class. Best Teacher. Best Friend. An A-plus to Dean Hazeltine for making every student he meets at Brown feel special. Students always appreciated his intelligence, charm, and guidance. Now I'm glad to see the administration recognizing his contributions.

Barbara Weiss Kimmel '83


Barrett Hazeltine was associate dean of the College from 1972 to 1992.

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Related Issue
November/December 2010