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Professor Profile: Dr. Frank Clemente

clementeProfessor Profile is a new feature here at Onward State where we find interesting professors at Penn State, talk with them, and share their stories. Do you know an interesting professor that would make for a great Professor Profile? Send us an email at [email protected] and let us know!

Are you interested in current social problems, such as economic, racial, and gender inequalities; social deviance and crime; or population, environmental, energy, and health problems? If so, Dr. Frank Clemente’s SOC 005 is just the class you need!

Dr. Clemente’s SOC 005 class is a favorite among students and alumni here at PSU and has grown to be one of the largest classes offered. This professor is so greatly favored by his students that they have even created a Facebook group dedicated to him!

Before joining the Penn State faculty, Dr. Clemente received his doctorate at the University of Tennessee and was then on the faculty of the University of Kentucky. After that, he joined the University of Wisconsin’s faculty for two years. Finally, in the early 1970’s, Clemente moved to PSU.

Clemente  was head of the Department of Sociology for 13 years, and for the last 10 years he has been teaching Soc 5 – which has grown into a small community with 1200 students!

Being one of those 1200 students, I think I can speak for most of us by saying it is one of the best classes here at Penn State. Dr. Clemente holds nothing back; he speaks his mind and shares everything with his students. There are no textbooks for this class, nor are there any assigned readings. His class is structured around his life experiences and his amazing stories. This class is valuable in more ways the one can imagine. I guarantee you will want to go to every one of his lectures!

We got a chance to ask him a few questions. Read on to find out what he said!

1. What interests you most about Sociology?

I have always been interested in the concept of social change and how it affects people’s lives. In fact that is one of the core dimensions of my lectures– how things have changed in the last half century and how people are different now– and how they are just the same as they used to be.

2. What is your favorite thing about Penn State?

The most important part of Penn State is the student body. I have met so many wonderful kids in my class who have made many contributions to campus, community and society. I always like to look forward to the kinds of great things they will do once they leave state college. I also have a high regard for the Penn State values and the orientation of the University.

3. What would students be surprised to know about your classes?

I don’t think too many students would be surprised about my classes since I pretty much tell them everything they want to know and even have an “Ask the professor day” where they can ask me any questions they want embarrassing or not. I have been asked about everything from my sexual preference to who I voted for in the last election.

4. What is the best thing about your class?

I am proud of my classes because of the reaction that students have. I do not take attendance so there is no penalty for not coming to class– yet most students come anyway. I think they like to hear somebody talking about real world problems and admitting that sometimes those of us on the other side of the podium do stupid things too. I tell many stories in my class and students relate to those very well. One of the most amazing things to me is that every semester on the last day of class I give a lecture called “Clemente rules of life” . It is a totally voluntary class as all grades have been turned in pretty much by that date. Last semester I had about 1100 kids and about 1300 people came to the lecture. As I stood before that large group I thought to myself “I must be doing something right.”


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