Tom Winter finished a lecture on passive and past-tense Latin verbs on Thursday, pulled his skateboard from the desk and rolled into a cool spring afternoon.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln classics and religious studies professor became an Internet sensation Wednesday when a photo of him skateboarding across campus became the top item on the social news website Reddit.com. The photo inspired dozens of memes -- photos with humorous text superimposed.
"Nine pages of memes and a site I never knew about before yesterday," Winter said. "It's a pretty good photo."
By Thursday afternoon, the photo had gotten more than 756,000 views on Imgur.com, the Internet image hosting site on which it originally appeared, and 1,300 comments on Reddit.com. Users of Imgur.com wrote mock captions for the image, which features a skateboarding Winter, arms out and holding a briefcase.
The top-rated caption: "They see me rollin,' I'm gradin.'" On Reddit.com, users created memes using the photo of Winter with captions such as, "Write a two-page paper on shredding the gnar," and, "Has a PhD in righteousness."
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Winter said he heard about the photo from students Thursday and thinks he knows who took it.
He teaches Latin, Greek and English classes, including Classical Mythology, Ancient Warfare and the Ancient Novel. His favorite course is Science and Technology in Antiquity.
He's been teaching since 1970 and rides his bike 4.5 miles to work each morning. To get around campus easier, he uses his Arbor Pocket Rocket skateboard, which is just short enough to fit in his desk. He said he built the first recumbent bicycle to appear in Lincoln back in 1975.
A champion rollerskater, Winter said, he began skateboarding 15 years ago because it's faster, and it's easier on his body.
"I'm 19, but my joints are all of 68 years old," he said. "Sometimes, walking is simply unpleasant."
After watching Winter take off on his skateboard Thursday, UNL English Professor Joe Goecke said it's wonderful to see his colleague roll across campus.
"We used to smoke together, but we don't anymore," Goecke said. "He quit."
Reach Kevin Abourezk at 402-473-7225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.