The Center for Academic Excellence is a place where sharing and refining is as important as correcting mistakes and doctoring ailing term reports.

Woodrow Bovell                               
Center for Academic Excellence
The College of New Rochelle

Tell us a little about yourself, Mr. Bovell.

I’m a New Yorker, born and raised in Brooklyn. I attended public schools in Brooklyn and got my bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College, my master’s in education administration from St. John’s. Although I now live in Stamford, I love the Big City. There is no place in the world quite like New York, and I have seen a few—Madrid, London, Paris, Rome, Athens.

Where have you taught and worked before coming to The College of New Rochelle?

I am a retiree of the New York City public school system, having served 28 years as a teacher of English and reading and assistant principal and English chairman at the junior high school level. I have worked as an assistant examiner for the Board of Examiners of the City of New York, as reading/language arts coordinator for the Village of Hempstead, and in a similar capacity at Iona’s Yonkers Campus. I am now director of the Center for Academic Excellence (formerly Learning Support Services) at CNR, where I have been for eleven years. And I can tell you, this is like icing on the cake. What a joy!

What are your responsibilities?

The Center for Academic Excellence (CAE) is the tutorial arm of the College,
meeting enrichment and support needs in all content areas of students from
all four Schools. Technically, I run the place, but really I do a little of
everything—plan, manage, train, tutor, poke around, teach a little, and spread a little humor if I can. The nuts and bolts of our operation are kept functional by a wonderful team of professionals, some who have been there longer than I, and so many who come and go—student tutors and assistants—who give us only two or three years, but leave their mark indelibly.

What are some of the advantages for students in coming to the Center for
Academic Excellence?

People mistakenly assume that the function of the Center is to service only students who are facing difficulty with course work. Not so. The Center for Academic Excellence is a place where sharing and refining is as important as correcting mistakes and doctoring ailing term reports. In fact, the student who is looking for the “quick fix” won’t find it at CAE. But think of the remarkable advantage for students of sitting with someone who has traveled the road before them, who knows the twists and turns of the academic expedition and can help them through it. That’s what we are about. It’s not just tutoring and workshops and test-taking and managing the computer and handling research and manipulating mathematical calculations; it’s so much more. And it’s the “so much more” that really counts.

In what ways do you help students adjust to CNR?

Coming to college can be daunting for many students, like finding one’s way in a new neighborhood. Whether they come from around the corner or from halfway

around the world, it’s a brand new experience. The College of New Rochelle is a warm and welcoming place that eases the environmental change; and the Center for Academic Excellence embodies that philosophy. Ours is a building that once  upon time, many years ago, was somebody’s home. What was once a kitchen is now our reception area; what was a living room is now a conference/small group tutoring room; what must have been a sitting room or parlor is now a tutoring work-station room; and our second-floor computer room was perhaps a master bedroom. We have not yet figured out what to do with the porch, but we’re working on it. Although we consistently focus on making the place functional, we can’t help being comfortable and cozy. We like it that way, and so do our students seeking a home away from home. 

What do you like best about your job?

People—students in particular. Four years after I started at The College of New Rochelle, I realized what it was all about. Attending commencement, I experienced the joy of witnessing the graduation of students whom I had taught and tutored in their freshman year. What a sense of fulfillment, not alone for them but for me as well. Just to be part of making a difference in the lives and aspirations of young people is richly rewarding.


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