Thomas Farber, Senior Lecturer in English, University of California, Berkeley:
"He expected a great deal from his students, held them accountable for their claim that they wanted to write, and won their respect not only by working them hard, but by taking seriously what they produced."
—Page Stegner, Director, Creative Writing Program, University of California, Santa Cruz, 1977
"What impressed [your students] was your attention to detail, your willingness to take their work seriously, and your very generous offer of your own time…This took a great deal of energy (as well as good faith) on your part, and they knew it."
—Phil Weinstein, Chair, Dept. of English, Swarthmore College, 1981
"A gifted and engaged teacher.
—Anne Barrows, Coordinator, Master of Arts, University of San Francisco, 1988
"[He] committed himself totally to teaching and to the students here...they praised his generosity, his willingness to be available for them, his close attention to every student and to every piece of student writing. Among the useful qualities he taught the students...was a sense of dedication, discipline, and meticulous care with writing. And not least valued by the students was his management of the classroom with humor, efficiency, and fairness...His work as a teacher was outstanding in every way...It is a mark of [his] character that he gave so much of himself while was here."
—Frank Stewart, Director, Creative Writing Program, University of Hawaii, 1990
"Students praise in particular his willingness to take student writers seriously, his openness in class discussions, the sense he gives of sharing his knowledge of books and of the practicalities of a writer's life, his ready and constant availability, his meticulous comments on details of writing, and the sense he gives of having real standards and making judgments. What impresses me... is not simply the enthusiasm as such, but the fact that Mr. Farber seems to be able to be an open and supportive teacher without losing any intellectual or pedagogical authority."
—Paul Alpers, Chair, Dept. of English, University of California, Berkeley, 1981
"I have never seen evaluations [by students] this good. They read like a wish-list of the praise every teacher longs to garner--and they are unanimous in their praise...Perhaps the most impressive feature of these evaluations is the recurrent emphasis on how 'inspirational' the class and Farber have been. [Students write] 'The feeling is calm, the atmosphere is trust and magic happens over and over again'; 'this class has a religious feel to it, as though something great is happening--almost as though it couldn't not be great'; 'I'll always treasure this fantastic experience'"
—Jeffrey Knapp, Chair, Dept. of English, University of California, Berkeley, 1997
"Farber is praised as a great facilitator, with a 'wonderful style for leading discussions'; he creates a supportive environment in which students are nonetheless held accountable and 'very little slack is tolerated,' or, as one student puts it…'a professional class in a casual atmosphere'...[One student] reports that he 'nourished an environment that was both encouraging of the students' skills as careful readers and critics, and of their growing willingness to expose themselves, to themselves and each other. He was crystal clear at the beginning of the course about what would be expected of us…what each class would be like, and what his goals for us were. So far as I can see, he accomplished them. A superb course from a superb teacher.'"
—Janet Adelman, Chair, Dept. of English, University of California, Berkeley, 2001
"Farber continues his record of excellent and inspiring teaching... ‘Written assignments were demanding, but gratifyingly so;’ ‘Truly a jewel of the English department;’ ‘best course that I have taken at Berkeley.""
—Susan Schweik, Associate Dean of Arts and Humanities, University of California, Berkeley, 2011
“Farber works hard to meet students on their own ground, without forcing his ideas or stylistic preferences on them. He has the ability to enter deeply into their work and obviously takes pleasure in doing so…a masterful creative writing instructor who has honed his skills and strategies over a long teaching career... For many of these students, his workshop becomes a highlight of their experience at UCB...even a ‘life-changing one.’"
—Katherine O’Brien O’Keefe, Chair, Dept. of English, University of California, Berkeley, 2013
Farber has continued his tradition of outstanding teaching. His classes are rigorous: "The assignments were perfectly demanding and provocative "Runs a very tight ship, which results in respect and trust within the cohort." "Prof. Farber's class has helped me hold to a higher standard as a writer. That is the best gift I could have received from taking his class." He is dedicated: "I learned a lot from the thorough, methodical feedback." Students recognize the warmth he shows them, often hand in hand with praising how much he challenges them: "Loves to learn about his students." "His care for students is unparalleled in my experience." "Deeply empathetic and appropriately critical of the writing. This made me a much better writer." ... his "life-changing" class: "Laconic, dry, and yet absolutely inspiring... Grateful to Professor Farber for his writing, teaching, and humanity."
Susan Schweik, Professor and Assistant Chair, U.C Berkeley, and Steven Justice, Professor and Chair, U.C. Berkeley, 2020