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Maya Angelou

photo: Splash

The poet, writer, and activist first visited Wake Forest University in North Carolina for a speaking engagement in 1973 and fell in love, becoming a professor not long after. "I’m not a writer who teaches. I’m a teacher who writes. But I had to work at Wake Forest to know that," she once said. Angelou taught a variety of subjects until her death in 2014, including "World Poetry in Dramatic Performance,” “Race, Politics and Literature,” and “African Culture and Impact on U.S." And we'd kill for the opportunity to have taken any of these. 


Kevin Spacey

photo: Splash

While filming "The Rebel in the Rye," an upcoming film about J.D. Salinger's life, Spacey looked scholarly AF. Turns out he's had practice — as a visiting professor at Oxford University's drama department. No doubt he looked the part!



photo: Splash

The Roots drummer has some pretty sick teaching creds under his belt through NYU. In 2012, he taught a "Classic Albums" class where students took an in-depth look at iconic LPs by artists like Sly & The Family Stone, Aretha Franklin, Led Zeppelin, and the Beastie Boys. In 2014, he followed that up with a special elective about Prince.

“It’s a mistake to assume that even in this age of information, people just know about the fundamental records and artists of the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s," he told the New York Post. "What’s the point of being a walking encyclopedia if you don’t share the information?”


Spike Lee

photo: Splash

Between Lee and Questlove, it's hard to decide who's the top contender for NYU's coolest celeb professor.

The storied director began teaching a filmmaking class at Harvard in 1991, and in 1993 he became a faculty member of NYU's graduate film program, of which he is now artistic director. When not directing films, authoring books, and throwing rad Brooklyn block parties, Lee can be found advocating for education. "If you have a great teacher, you cannot underestimate their impact on the rest of your life," he told an audience of students at the College of William & Mary.


Alec Baldwin

photo: Splash

The "30 Rock" star and Long Island native taught a special summer acting workshop at Southampton College of Long Island University from 2003 to 2008. He must've gotten a lot of enjoyment out of it, since he returned for five consecutive summers. These days, though, keeping up with his two tots no doubt takes up too much of his time.


Paul Simon

A photo posted by Jymi Cliche (@wickedcliche) on

Following the dissolution of folk-rock duo Simon & Garfunkel after "Bridge Over Troubled Water," Paul Simon was invited by NYU (Again, NYU! You go, NYU!) to teach a songwriting class. The year was 1971. If the idea of chilling in Washington Square Park picking out ditties on your guitar with Professor Simon doesn't do it for ya, I'm not sure what in the world of academia could.

During that same period, Art Garfunkel also turned his attention toward teaching, but as has consistently been the case for these two, he got the short end of the stick. Garfunkel completed his course work toward a Ph.D. in mathematics (!) at Columbia University’s Teachers College, but he wound up teaching at a private high school before returning to music.

J.K. Rowling

photo: Reuters

Quick! Grab your Time Turner and head back to 1990 so you can take an English as a Second Language class from Rowling in Porto, Portugal, where she lived and began writing "Harry Potter." Livraria Lello Bookstore, the bookstore/cafe where she famously scribbled on napkins when she wasn't teaching, was built in 1881 and seriously has Hogwarts written all over it.