A look at Chapman’s top rated professors

Graphic by Nita Faulkner.

By Beatrice Ho and Madeleine Caraluzzi

 Whether it be first grade or graduate school, great teachers are unforgettable because they possess the power to influence a student into realizing his or her potential.

Finding a “good teacher” can prove to be difficult for college students.

“I changed my minor three times before settling solely because I couldn’t learn from the way any of those other professors taught their classes. You really wouldn’t think it’d be that difficult,” said Steph Koko, a junior business major.

2012 RAND corporation study reports that, “teachers matter to student achievement more than any other aspect of schooling.” But, what does it mean to be a good teacher?

Ken Bain, author of “What the Best College Teachers Do,” said, “with an emphasis on learning rather than on teaching performance, the opportunity for ongoing change in our definition of a good teacher becomes almost infinite.”

Today, the value of a degree is greater than it has been for almost half a century, which in turn means that students require effective teachers now more than ever.

Exceptional teachers display their positive attributes in a variety of ways. This fall, The Panther sent a survey to the student body via social media asking about their favorite professors and with this information, compiled a list of a few of the most valuable professors Chapman has to offer.

0 - Chart - Graduation Year

Pie chart displaying the graduation years of students surveyed. By Beatrice Ho

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Pie chart depicting the colleges of students surveyed. By Beatrice Ho

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Bar chart shows how important these five categories are in rating an effective professor according to students surveyed. By Beatrice Ho

According to those who participated, a professor’s most important attributes from most to least important are: the overall personality of the professor, the quality of feedback the professor provides, general course material, engagement with subject and the easiness of the class.

Here are some of the professors who ranked highest in these categories organized by the specific schools they work in.


Professor Matthew Munson“(Teaching) gives me a chance to interact with students that are trying to figure out the same things that I was trying to figure out, and if I can help with my experiences in offering them some guidance that’s the reason I’m here.”

Professor Hirschel S. Adler“I was in public accounting for 35 years working in the big accounting firms, and that was enough. I wanted to do something that would be a little more rewarding at the end of my career.”


Professor Henry L. Finch“I am passionate about teaching. I am passionate about filmmaking. I try to inspire students, and try to listen to them and listen to what their intention is … To be able to tailor it to different people, (and) trying to be open minded, flexible, inspiring and compassionate. I don’t know if I am that but it is something I strive for.”

Professor Harry Ufland“A big shot agent actually said to me in a meeting once that I’m wasting my time with Scorsese and DeNiro, and I heard that a number of times at William Morris. The point of bringing that up is that when you believe as an agent, you don’t let anyone talk you out of that. But you have to really believe in it, that’s the thing.”

Professor Kelli FueryYou have to be able to carve out your particular attachment to your major. Maybe that means you will come into disagreement with your professors. As long as you do the hard work, you need to be able to in the face of adversity and the only way that can happen is if you’re in a classroom where the teacher allows you to that you’re not going to be admonished or disrespected.”


Professor Stephanie M. Takaragawa“I’ve been known to get up on the desks and walk across the classroom on the desks to explain that culture has us believe in a series of behaviors that we don’t even realize until we do something that is outside of these behaviors … I’m trying to teach my students to be successful in any social situation, because that’s what anthropology and sociology are. They’re about the social and cultural behaviors.”

Professor Hugh W. Blake“There’s so much going on in the field of Artificial Intelligence and the possibility of creating a digital mind … That’s why we need to be philosophers, to understand our role we have in this world and the role that the technologies we’re relating to now.”

Professor Michael Wood“Most important is keeping things in perspective. Many students don’t realize it isn’t what you do over the course of one night while you’re cramming for a test or over a semester as you’re trying to pass a class, learning is something you keep on working at until you find yourself so invested in it that it affects the way you think.”


Professor Hirschel or Hank S. Adler

After working in public accounting for almost 35 years, a top partner at Deloitte & Touche; Adler said he wanted to do “something that would be a little more rewarding at the end of his career.”

With a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in business from UCLA, he enjoys engaging students to help them find their full potential.

Time at Chapman: 13 years.

Professor Matthew Munson

Born and raised in Orange County, Munson received both his undergraduate business degree and master’s degree from Chapman. He worked in the Fortune 500 for five years after his undergraduate graduation and while working full-time, came back and earned his MBA.

Now, the CFO of a mid-market company and a business professor at Chapman, Munson says he successfully has one foot in academia and one in the industry. Professor Munson is married with three children.

Time at Chapman: Six years.

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Professor Henry or Roy L. Finch

Known to “stick up for (students’) film ideas and inspiring to be around. He’s passionate about film, and is excited about (students’) ideas! It makes the class excited too” for his Intermediate Production film courses. Finch knows what it’s like to be an exploring filmmaker, from his personal experience sound mixing, composing, directing and writing – he shares it all.

Time at Chapman: Five years.

Professor Harry Ufland

Ufland has had many years of experience in the film industry as an agent at William Morris, where he represented talent such as Martin Scorsese, Robert DeNiro, Ridley Scott, Jodie Foster and more.

He is described as a person who “is passionate about giving back to students and gives great advice for those wanting to enter the film industry.” In the interview with Ufland, he shares his life journey and advice for those wanting to be successful in life and particularly for those who want to be involved in the film industry.

Time at Chapman: Four years

Professor Kelli Fuery

Fuery moved to California six years ago from Australia. In London, she taught at the University of London in the school of history of art, film and visual media. Fuery has worked in higher education for 17 years in the areas of film media and digital culture.

Currently a full-time professor at Chapman, she is on a number of editorial committees for various journals, publishing boards and the Psychoanalytic Study Center of Southern California.

Time at Chapman: About four years

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Professor Stephanie M. Takaragawa

Takaragawa was praised in the comments of the student survey as someone who, “challenges students to re-examine developed cultural behaviors and how they’re perpetuated, particularly, their own,” and self-described as impatient and grumpy.

“A first generation college student, Takaragawa earned her master’s degree in art history and anthropology from the University of Sounthern Caliofrnia and a PhD in anthropology from Temple University.

Fun fact: in the ’80s, Takaragawa had a “fire engine red” Mohawk.

Time at Chapman: Eight years

Professor Hugh W. Blake

Have you ever wanted to watch great science fiction films in class, while also learning its philosophical importance to life? Blake’s Philosophy Through Science Fiction course explores philosophy through numerous texts and visual mediums.

One student described the class as “a mixture of lecture and discussion … (where) there is always relevant and historical philosophical studies. Since this is a night class, it is always great to end the day with a film. You can tell that Blake is extremely passionate about his work, very open and approachable when you have any questions, concerns or comments.”

Time at Chapman: Two years

Professor Michael Wood

Wood teaches Japanese studies and honors program classes. Before coming to Chapman, Wood worked at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan and Tulane University in New Orleans. He teaches mostly Japanese language classes, but also instructs an aikido martial arts class twice a week here at Chapman.

Time at Chapman: Three years

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