If you’ve ever taken a stroll on the third floor of Annenberg Hall, you’ve most likely passed room 307 and thought, “OK, whose office is this, and why does it look crazy?” Designed to resemble a room in one of those unpronounceable French museums in Paris, this office stands out.
As far as who works in this office, well that’s easy.
“Scott Gratson, Ph.D., Director of Communications,” is engraved into a plaque to the left of his office. But Gratson said that he is not one for “the inherent superiority of titles.” He typically goes by Scott.
With a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a master’s degree in rhetoric, a doctorate in interpersonal communication, and a knack for coffee, Gratson took over as the director of Temple’s communications department in July of 2004.
In the nine-odd months he has worked at Temple, he’s been quite a busy man. Gratson has already taken on a number of diverse programs and projects at Temple, ranging anywhere from working with the honors program to the communications council to contributing to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender studies minor. Gratson’s main focus is to give the communications program a sense of direction. He has embraced the diversity of the program.
“The diversity of the program is the hallmark of its existence,” he said. “There are people who want to study so many different things, and I think that that diversity is central to the program.”
Gratson’s students reflect his diversity. He said not a single set of students is interested in the same field of work in one of the classes he is teaching.
Ranging from future teachers and journalists, to sports and recreation managers and lobbyists for the rights of smokers, Gratson has diverse students in all of his classes. The key to making each student focus is to open communication between the professor and the student, and a challenging grading policy.
In the past, Gratson has posted up to 14 office hours a week to make himself available for anything from sharing a cup of coffee and having a leisurely chat, to the neverending discussions with students about their grades.
Freshman Eric Watts works as Gratson’s office assistant and sees students come in and out of his office on a daily basis to talk about their grades.
“Kids are lucky if they even manage a ‘B,'” Watts said of Gratson’s challenging expectations of his students.
Gratson is well aware of his reputation as a difficult professor.
“I’m a challenging prof,” he said, laughing. “An ‘A’ represents excellence, so I make my students work hard. I will gladly help students improve, but I’m not one to bolster grades.”
Aside from the occasional slanted smiley face on RateMyProfessors.com, Gratson’s students have nothing but good things to say about him. Senior Brendan Walsh said Gratson was a “well-spoken, enlightened individual who exudes confidence about everything he throws himself into,” Walsh said. “Not to mention he makes a mean cup of coffee.”
Gratson has quite the coffee-drinking reputation, and his office has just the equipment to keep up with his rep. Somewhere among the books, furniture, sculptures, drawings, classical CDs and antique telephones, sits the challenging prof’s beloved espresso machine, two-grinder coffee maker, and wide-mouthed coffee mug. A coffee drinker since the age of seven, Gratson drinks an average of two pots a day and said coffee is “a major addiction.”
The coffee equipment may have been at Gratson’s utmost request, but the comfort of his office was a request from his students.
“My students said they wanted a base, a home, a place they felt comfortable,” he said.
If it’s comfort and communication they’re looking for, these students may have just found it.
Jillian Bauer can be reached at email@example.com.