We asked UNG Oconee professors (and one in Gainesville) how their often-baffling office decor reflects their personalities. And whether you could get an extension on that paper. (Spoiler alert: No).
Susan Brantley, biology
Biology professor Susan Brantley’s office is a science-themed wonderland. Outside of her domain, on a plaque by the hall, she is advertised as the “High Priestess of Insect Ecology.” Once entering, one can clearly see why. Five small terrariums containing live insects are situated around the office, each tended to with loving care. Framed photos of bugs are positioned on the shelves. The office is a gallery of the miniature world of entomology, and is crawling with character.
Aesthetic: Everything, from the large dragonfly poster to the various nature-related knick-knacks on the shelves, is full of personality. “I would say that I like nature stuff,” Brantley says.
Favorite item: “Probably my living things, my critters. I like the blue death feigning beetles because of their colors, I like the hissing cockroach because he’s big and I like to watch the spider hunt,” Brantley answers as she motions to the several small terrariums in her office.
Weirdest item: “I have a dung beetle,” she says as she pulls out a preserved bug carcass. “A student gave it to me, and I almost ate it one time. I had to pack up my stuff in boxes to move offices, and I put the dung beetle inside an empty plastic gum container to protect it. Two weeks later, I forgot it was there. I found this plastic gum container and shook it; it rattled, like there was one piece left. I was about to pop it into my mouth when I realized that I was holding the dung beetle.”
What she would put in your office if she could: “I’d love to have one of those big DNA models, like in ‘The Big Bang Theory.’” The larger ones, Brantley says, are really expensive, but she doesn’t want to settle for one small enough to put on a desktop. —Christina Wynn
Eleanor Schut, biology
Biology professor Eleanor Schut’s office is an explosion of what makes her her. An old childhood science project, a dog toy, family photos, bobble heads and many coffee mugs scatter the space.
“What I had hanging around the house, or what I had in my previous office that needed a place to go. I did not decorate this with style,” Schut jokes.
Aesthetic: “I already am a hoarder, this is the hoarder office.”
Weirdest item: “I have an electric razor someone left me. I used to recycle batteries, so they gave me the whole razor. I haven’t gotten around to recycling it.” Another favorite: “I have a density bottle I made when I was in middle school that has followed be around somehow. You can see the bottle is over its age, it’s compressed and its got a metal cap. They don’t make them like this anymore.”
What she would put in your office if she could: An electric tea pot. —Sarah Daftarian
Dan Cabaniss, journalism
Journalism professor Dan Cabaniss loves his corner office in the back hallway of the 500 building. “It’s always a party back here. I come to work knowing I get to see my friends, it’s great.”
Favorite item: A bright-red sign with a message embossed in four different languages: “NO SPITTING” in Malay, Chinese, English and Hindi. “I found that in a hardware store in Malaysia. Those are the four main cultures found in the region, but it doesn’t matter what language you speak, there’s no spitting allowed.”
What he would put in your office if he could: “I wouldn’t change a thing. If anything, I would just add a keg of Guinness on tap. It would make student conferences a lot less painful.” —William Wheeler
Shane Toepfer, media studies
Professor Shane Toepfer’s office is an arena that hosts a main event-worthy triple threat match-up between classic academia, lively pop culture, and thoughtful wrestling paraphernalia.
Although it may not be a heavyweight-sized space, it still packs a powerful punch in the quality of its contents and their use in Toepfer’s self-expression.
Aesthetic: Cluttered library. “I always loved going into my professor’s offices and seeing books. I loved to sort of look at bookshelves and just get a sense of what they’re into. And so when I got this office, I wanted to bring a chunk of my library into the office.”
Favorite item: A replica WWE Championship belt. “The day I got my Ph.D., we went to celebrate at a restaurant in Atlanta. A guy I went to grad school with gave me this because I’m a wrestling fan. When I got my Ph.D. in the mail, it’s still in the tube that they sent it in, but I’ve got my championship belt in my office. It’s a reminder that: number one, don’t take yourself too seriously and number two, it was never about the degree. It was about getting to do this job and loving what you do. It was never about earning something and saying ‘Well, that’s done. On to the next thing.’”
Weirdest item: A Play-Doh volcano made by his second-oldest niece after seeing “Lava.” “She made me a volcano because she ‘lavas’ me.” —Jason Bray
Rosaria Meek, Spanish
Spanish professor Dr. Rosaria Meek sat down in her recently raided and Christmas-wrapped office to discuss what makes her personal space muy bien.
Favorite item: A recliner given to her by the former dean of UGA’s Graduate School, Maureen Grasso. “I could have kept [the chair] in my house, but having it here meant that I need to value the support – especially [from] women in the academic field.”
What she would put in your office if she could: A kitchen. “Not just for me, but also for my students. I would cook for them. I would let them in and let them cook.” —Jason Bray
Douglas Young, Jr., political science
Dr. Douglas Young, Jr. emphasizes that the decor in his office ranges widely in order to create a welcoming environment for his students. Some of the items come from his travels to China; many relate to important aspects in U.S. history.
“I think that these walls are awfully bleak barren, and boring if you don’t decorate them with colorful stuff,” Young says.
Favorite item: “It may be this picture of my great-great grandfather Young. He went off to fight in the war between the states and never returned from the second battle of Manassas in August of 1862.”
Weirdest item: “I have an article with a picture of me almost getting arrested in China. You can see the cops coming toward me. I was in walking around taking pictures and I saw this protest. So, I decided to take a picture and the police didn’t like it and they made a direct bee-line for me. That was the closest I’ve ever gotten to being arrested.”
What he would put in his office if he could: “I have a Japanese battle flag that was captured by an American Marine in October of 1944. But it’s such a large flag that it would be a major operation to get it in here.” —Austin Dyer