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:: Feature

HarryPotter and the

SlIghtly Obsessed Professor Wizards and wands bewitch the young-at-heart Bill Glavin words :: Andrea Roxas art :: Genevieve Tabios


rofessor Bill Glavin contemplates what house the Sorting in advance; he buys the tickets and chooses to go to a specific Hat would place him in were he a student at Hogwarts School of theater that isn’t as crowded as the others. Chessher’s even Witchcraft and Wizardry. He crosses off Hufflepuff (they just don’t convinced that Glavin bought a “ginormous flat-screen TV” solely seem to have a great future in front of them). He nixes Ravenclaw so he could turn his living room into a personal theater to watch (the name of the house just sounds awful, and Ravenclaws don’t get the Harry Potter movies. Glavin always gives Chessher’s daughter much attention). That leaves two options: Gryffindor or Slytherin. the latest Harry Potter DVD for her birthday. And Chessher adds For Glavin, the choice is clear: Slytherins are evil while Gryffindors that he pre-ordered the novels and stood in line at Barnes & are honest, and Glavin is an honest person. Plus, being a Gryffindor Noble to purchase them when they arrived. “It’s Glavin and all the 9-year-olds in their Harry Potter makes him housemates with Harry Potter, the wizard wonder. outfits, ” she says with a laugh. It may be surprising to discover that a professor who compares Glavin is a bit more reserved about his love for Harry Potter. He his age to that of Hogwarts’ headmaster Albus Dumbledore is so gives logical reasons for why he enjoys the books: they’re fun, well knowledgeable about the fictional world of Harry Potter. But Glavin, written, and enjoyable thanks to Rowling’s talent. who teaches magazine journalism at the Newhouse School, believes “One of the things that children’s story writers know that adult that if he didn’t know anything about Harry Potter, his students story writers too often forget is that you’re supposed to entertain would consider him “the worst kind of Muggle.” So he decided to your readers, and she’s always entertaining,” Glavin says. “Her give the books a shot to ensure that when future students gushed novels move quickly. There’s not a moment wasted in them.” about Harry and Hogwarts, he’d know what they were talking about. Certain parts of the series stand out in Glavin’s memory. Now, Glavin openly chimes in on the Potter lovefest. The first He’s partial to Luna Lovegood, one of Harry’s wackier friends. novel of the series hooked him into the world author J.K. Rowling “She’s candid. She’s in some ways naïve but not really — she’s created. He went on to read all seven books and see all six of the courageous; she believes in things, and she’s not afraid to tell Potter movies released thus anybody,” he says. “She’s been my far. He constantly references favorite character from the time I first both the books and movies in came across her in the books.” his classes. Professor Melissa But it’s more than fun and games: Chessher, head of the magazine Glavin has also channeled his fandom journalism department in — Professor Melissa Chessher into his teaching. He uses Rowling’s Newhouse and a longtime friend work as examples of concrete, of Glavin, calls him obsessed. descriptive writing. “Make sure every sentence you write has a “I’m surprised he doesn’t have his own owl and his own coconut in it, ” he advises students. This nugget of writing wisdom wand,” she says. comes from a scene in Harry Potter and The Sorceror’s Stone, Chessher has experienced her fair share of Glavin’s love for all where Rowling describes an onerous troll as having a “head the things Potter. She and fellow Newhouse professor Larry Mason size of a coconut.” have joined Glavin for more than one opening-day showing SU senior Tory Marlin took Glavin’s critical writing class of a Potter movie. She says Glavin organizes everything weeks in fall 2008 and says Rowling’s writing was the “standard of

“I’m surprised he doesn’t have his own owl and his own wand.”


comparison” in class. Marlin isn’t surprised that someone like Glavin loves Harry Potter. “Take away all the magic and Harry Potter is just about a kid growing up [and] trying to be a good person,” Marlin says. “And Glavin is a good person, so it makes sense that he likes Harry Potter so much.” Glavin’s kindness and wisdom actually remind Marlin of a revered character in the series: Dumbledore. “In my college career, Glavin’s been someone I go to when I need the answers,” Marlin says. “Glavin doesn’t necessarily give you the answers, but he helps you work them out. I definitely see parallels to Dumbledore in that.” Glavin certainly is wise, but the series’s ending shows he isn’t always right. Chessher says that for three years, Glavin repeatedly shared his theory about why Harry would have to die in the final novel. Since Harry ended up living “happily ever after,” Glavin’s mistake is the one instance Chessher remembers of him being wrong about anything. Glavin, however, still makes a case for his preferred ending. “If Harry lives to be a hundred, the highlight of his life will be when he was 18,” he says. “There’s nothing he can do to top it. I don’t know if I’d want that to be true of my life. At age 30, I don’t want to be saying, I wish I was 18 again.” To Glavin’s credit, he was quite forthcoming about his faulty prediction, showing the honesty and valor of a true Gryffindor.

Editor’s Note: The reporting for this story was completed before Bill Glavin, esteemed and decorated professor of the Newhouse School, took medical leave in March. We’re sure Madame Pomphrey is taking great care of him while he watches Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince in his robes.

Harry Potter and the Slightly Obsessed Professor  

A beloved professor and his obsession with all things Harry Potter

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