A Beard Cut Short
The Life and Lessons of a Legendary Professor Clipped by a Slip of #MeToo
December 15, 2020
Paperback | 257 pages
$16.95 paperback | $8.99 Kindle
Rubadeau was an outspoken man of a previous era who taught so long the culture changed around him. As a result, the book is a captivating document on how the language of teaching (and language itself) has changed over the decades, and the ways in which a certain type of larger-than-life educator, once common, has mostly ceased to exist.
Former Camera science writer and Colorado Book Award winner (“From Jars to the Stars”) Todd Neff examines the life of his mentor, former University of Michigan Professor John Rubadeau, before plunging in to investigate the unjust #MeToo claims that led to his firing in “A Beard Cut Short: The Life and Lessons of a Legendary Professor Clipped by a Slip of #MeToo.”
Rubadeau was an old-school writing teacher who fearlessly created room for students to discuss and debate human differences in the classroom, refusing to coddle or protect them, an effort doomed to fail.
“I am here to teach you about the intricacies and nuances of the English language not to coddle you or to support your conviction that you are the next Shakespeare,” Rubadeau informed his students. “If you will be devastated because you receive less than an A in this course, drop this class the first day.”
Using his investigative skills to obtain confidential documents, Neff concludes that his mentor’s firing “came about through a poisonous brew of stubbornness, incompetence, misplaced zealotry, hypersensitivity, blinkered perspective, bad faith, personal friction, professional jealousy, and shoddy investigative work — all of which led to over-reaction and injustice.”
— The Boulder Daily Camera
John Rubadeau’s long, white beard; homeless-guy wardrobe; and penchant for dirty jokes belied his lofty status as one of the most popular professors ever at the University of Michigan. He taught writing in Ann Arbor for more than 30 years. The cover of his course pack read: “Grammar: the difference between knowing your shit and knowing you’re shit.”
In A Beard Cut Short: The life and lessons of a legendary professor clipped by a slip of #MeToo, a former student tells the crazy, touching, inspiring, and often funny story of an eccentric, influential professor. John caught dogs in Wisconsin, sold insurance in Indiana, raised pigs in Tennessee, counseled soldiers in Germany, and had his apartment bugged by the Romanian secret police. He lost a young wife and two baby boys. He was born poor and stayed that way most of his life. But, on his own terms, he met with extraordinary success.
A Beard Cut Short also shares John’s key lessons on writing, teaching, and life – lessons that have inspired generations of students to watch out for comma splices and follow their dreams. The story is capped by an investigation of an unjust firing that’s a case study in how the misappropriation of #MeToo, a vital social movement, can hurt both the unfairly accused and the movement itself.
John Rubadeau’s (in)famous Grammar Review is included as a special bonus.