‘Batman’ can do anything, including teach

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Calling reading professor Robert Unger a Renaissance man doesn’t seem to do him justice. He has skills like a ninja and credentials that would obliterate a wall. His friends call him Batman, Superman, and best of all, The Man.

Unger is soft-spoken and humble, so unassuming that most never find out that he is a minister, martial arts master, scuba diver, skydiver, lawyer, personal trainer, private investigator, union official, and literature expert. Chuck Norris awarded him his black belt and he is licensed to practice law before the California Supreme court and United States District court. Did we mention he is a pilot? And fluent in Spanish?

“There is an old saying: You don’t stop playing because you grow old,” he said, “You grow old because you stop playing.”

Unger has taught at Southwestern College for 11 years, but his experience here goes back 35 years to when he was a student in the College for Kids program where he took aviation and library research classes.

After graduating from Bonita High School in 1981 Unger took a math class at SWC before he enrolled at UCSD where he earned a BA in Political Science. He then went to SDSU for a second degree in English Literature.

Still hungry for knowledge, Unger went to the United States International University for an MA in applied Linguistics/TESOL, which is a training certification course for teaching English overseas. While traveling Unger got his post-graduate certificate in Spanish language and culture from Universidad de Zaragoza, Spain.

Unger then attended the University of San Diego School of Law for two years and transferred for his final year to National University’s School of Law when he was offered a full scholarship, with all-expenses-paid to finish his Juris Doctorate.

Unger was a private eye while working his way through law school, investigating injury claims for insurance companies.

Irrascible Mark Twain struck a chord with Unger when he wrote, “Classic books are what everyone talks about, but no one reads.”

Nearly 20 years later Unger started teaching paralegal classes and found out that he really liked the classroom. His wife was offered a teaching position in Spain, where she and Unger taught American Law and American Legal English.

Unger currently teaches college reading 158 and Introduction to College Reading 56. He on occasion also teaches paralegal classes.

Unger’s role model is his father who inspired him to do his best in whatever he wanted in life.

For 30 years Unger has been involved in Renaissance festivals and is a member of the Society of Creative Anachronism, which made him the perfect advisor for the SWC Belegarth Medieval Combat Society, a club that gives students the opportunity to participate in hand-to-hand combat with armor and swords based on historic designs they make out of foam.

An ordained minister who specializes in extreme wedding ceremonies, he has performed underwater scuba weddings, weddings on motorcycles and weddings on surfboards. Did we mention he surfs?

“He’s Batman,” said Andrew Rempt professor of language and literature. “He’s a man of great integrity, intelligence, and humor and compassion. And if I were in trouble, he’s the one I’d want to defend me.”

His friend and colleague, Professor Andy MacNeill, agreed.

“I don’t think there is one word that will do Unger justice, but he’s multi-faceted,” MacNeill said with intentional understatement.

Of the many things that Unger has done in his life, one adventure he disliked was cave spelunking, discovering he had a phobia of tight places. But up in the air Unger had no problem flying a Cessna 172 until it became too expensive a hobby.

Skydiving is one of many things Unger does in his free time. He has married couples as the wedding party plunges to Earth.

He is also extremely articulate and wickedly funny. One of his students, Edgar Lopez, criminal justice major, said he’s also a great teacher.

“He’s really cool and funny,” Lopez said, “When he teaches he’s friendly and makes me laugh.”

MacNeill said he is glad Unger is affable and his friend.

“He’s one guy I would not want to go up against, either in the ring or across the table,” he said. “He’s the guy.”

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