"There a great spirit of cooperation
and openness here at CNR. Unlike other colleges where there is
competitiveness among faculty, here there is a spirit of collegiality.
This spirit spills over into the way we work together for the good of
Dr. Dennis Ryan
Associate Professor of Religious Studies
School of Arts & Sciences
The College of New Rochelle
What is your education background?
I started college at
Georgetown University, but dropped out after two years to enter a
Catholic monastery where I continued my studies, earning a B.A. in
Philosophy and an M.A. in Theology. After leaving the monastery, I
earned my Ph.D. in Comparative Religions from Fordham University. Years
later, I earned another M.A. in Human Services here at The College of
How long have you been at
The College of New Rochelle?
I have just finished 35 years of full-time teaching here
at CNR. I started here as an adjunct teaching two courses each semester
in September 1970. The next year they hired me full-time. I had a
sabbatical for the school year 1985-86 during which I lived and taught
full-time at a university in northeast China.
What do you teach?
I teach an introduction to
the academic study of religion and an introduction to the major
religions of the world. I also teach courses on Buddhism, on the
religions of India, and another on the religions of China. My most
popular course focuses on death, grief, and religion.
You also taught in the School of New Resources.
What were the SNR students like?
students come with a much richer experiential background to which they
can relate the ideas learned in class. This shows up in class
discussion when students inevitably ask questions that typically begin
with, “Do you mean when I ...” Their life experiences gives them much
to process, using the ideas learned in the seminars, whether they be
ideas about economic systems, political systems, scientific research,
or family systems.
Besides teaching, how are you involved in the College Community?
I chair both the philosophy and religious studies
departments and belong to several College and School of Arts &
Sciences committees. I am a member of the choir that sings every Sunday
at the Chapel liturgy. Resident Directors often ask me to give talks to
students about dream interpretation and coping with grief.
What do you think makes CNR a special college?
There a great spirit of
cooperation and openness here at CNR. Unlike other colleges where there
is competitiveness among faculty, here there is a spirit of
collegiality. This spirit spills over into the way we work together for
the good of the students.
What sort of student is
successful at CNR?
The two primary elements that
make a student successful here are motivation to learn and openness.
The student must have the effective will to do the work necessary to
discover new things and be prepared to make the adjustments of
replacing old ideas with new ones.
Where do your students go after leaving school?
Many students want to
continue their learning experience formally by going to graduate
school, while others recognize the need to find full-time work to gain
economic independence and start their careers.