What students say about Michael Zank:
A recent graduate in ENG (Class of 2015), writing from Singapore:
I’ve been asked many times (including during job interviews) what my favourite undergraduate classes were, and I have always responded with RN101 and RN 220. Being your student in both classes fired up an insatiable intellectual curiosity in me – one that propelled me towards other achievements beyond my dreams, including graduating Summa Cum Laude and a job in NYC. Today, I am undoubtedly the better for it, and am convinced that I would be a very different person had I not taken those classes. As an educator, I’m sure encouraging curiosity among your students is one of your goals, and I wanted to let you know that I am extremely grateful to have benefited from it.
A graduating senior in COM, at the end of CASRN220 (Spring 2015):
After our first class, I knew this course would be a transformative experience. Not only because of the new and richer perspectives of the origins of Christianity and Judaism I would gain, but also because of you. There is something incredible in the way you conduct the classroom — effortlessly merging conversation and instruction. Your depth of knowledge is astounding and your willingness to consider other opinions is remarkable. Moreover, your passion is contagious. It’s clear that you craft the class around us, the students, and that your mission is to help us best understand the topic at hand. As I’m sure you’ve seen, that is not the norm.
In addition to my deeper understanding of Christianity and Judaism, I have a more profound curiosity. It’s great to get answers, but it’s fantastic to get more questions, of which — as you know — I now have plenty. You’ve sparked a strong desire to delve further.
For all this, I can’t thank you enough. My only regret is that I don’t have another semester to take your other class.
A student in CASRN220, April 9, 2015:
Your summation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the most accurate and encompassing articulation of the situation that I have yet to hear. I wish I had this class on recording. Your method of explanation exists in the style and with the authenticity that I strive for when trying to discuss the issue at hand, yet I still have much growth to do in order to reach the level of grace with which you address the topic.
Anonymous, 12/17/2o10, on “ratemyprofessors.com,” commenting on RN101 The Bible:
Professor Zank was engaging, interesting, compassionate towards outside opinion, and very interested in student’s comprehension. One of the best classes I’ve had at BU. But remember… you should be interested in the subject first!
Anonymous, 12/23/2009, on “ratemyprofessors.com.” commenting on RN220 Holy City:
I hated this class when I first started it. The class isn’t structured and he’s all over the place. I realized later that he really just wants us to become interested in the subject. He is very knowledgeable and I appreciated the class after it ended. I would take another class with him.
Anonymous, 5/8/2009, on “ratemyprofessors.com.” commenting on PH446:
Just a great professor and a great guy. Really wants you to learn the material. Passionate about the subject, he has a somewhat sarcastic sense of humor that is refreshing in class. Lots of reading but he is definitely worth studying with.
Anonymous, 5/10/2006, on “ratemyprofessors.com.” commenting on the Moses class:
What a wonderful professor. He really cares about his students. It’s amazing how much this man knows about religion, but he’s still very approachable. I wish I could take more classes with him! He’s one of the best professors at BU, and you’ll see why when you take one of his classes.
Prof. Dennis Berkey in 2000, writing as Dean of CAS in a letter to himself as Provost of the University:
“(Prof. Zank) created plausibility for Jewish Studies at BU when there was none”