Tarleton State University professor Dr. Lawrence (Larry) Margolis teaches from the department of social sciences. Everyday, Margolis arms himself with a bag of candy and a collection of jokes to supply to anyone who needs a weekday pick-me-up.
“A lot of students– a lot of Americans, about 1 in 6, – is hungry sometimes, and I don’t ever want my students to be hungry if I can help it,” Margolis said.
When asked how long he’s been passing out candy and jokes, Margolis said it’s been about 20 years since he first started.
“When I got tenure, I figured Tarleton was committed to me and I should give back to them,” Margolis said.
According to a 2001 Tarleton news release, Margolis was named the recipient of the Dr. Barry B Thompson Service Award, which recognizes faculty members committed to student growth in academics, as well as out of the classroom. Former Tarleton President Dr. Dennis P. McCabe stated that Margolis’ “dedication to teaching, research and service continue to make him a valuable member of our faculty.”
Margolis did not always have his sights set on teaching, however. He originally attended medical school.
“My father was a doctor. He really liked it, but in the end I just decided I didn’t love science enough to do that. I decided to get a Ph.D. and teach college,” Margolis said.
Throughout the day, Margolis says he tries to tell one or two jokes in his classes, but he saves the majority for the end of the week. He says that once in a while, students even have jokes to tell him. Margolis admits that though he loves jokes, if he had to choose between jokes and candy, he would pick candy.
“I know students need the calories. So I’d rather do the jokes and the candy, but I know they need the candy more. So if I had to give up one, I’d have to give up the jokes, but just because I want them to have the calories. They need them,” Margolis said.
Margolis said he tried standup comedy one time in graduate school – about half the people liked him and the other half didn’t. When asked where he gets his jokes, Margolis stated that he has a collection of joke books. He also said that his wife finds some for him on the Internet. His favorite joke, however, is the first one he remembers his dad telling him.
“Did you hear about the elephant with diarrhea? It’s all over town,” Margolis said.
The Tarleton professor wants to remind anyone who may question his quirky 20-year habit that, “I think you have to follow your heart and try to be the kind of person you think you should be,”
He added to that saying, “Some people are gonna like it and some aren’t, no matter what you do… I think you have to be yourself.”