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"I am continually awed by the diversity of the students at CNR, and how the small size of our student body allows so many of them to really flourish. We have students that represent just about every walk of life, which means that as a professor, I am constantly humbled at just how much they learn from each other, rather than just me, and how much I learn from them."

Dr. Amy Bass
Honors Program Director
Associate Professor of History
School of Arts & Sciences
The College of New Rochelle


What is your educational background, Dr. Bass?

I graduated from Bates College, a small liberal arts school in Maine, with a degree in history. I then took a year to travel, spending a bit of time in Europe, and then driving across the United States on a marathon trip. I think I probably learned more on that trip than during four years of college. Then I did my graduate work at Stony Brook University on Long Island, where I graduated with a Ph.D. in U.S. History and a comparative field in cultural studies.


What are the courses that you teach at CNR?

I am lucky to have my feet in many areas here at CNR: I teach several courses in American history, including one of my favorites, "Race, Sport, and Society." I also teach a course for the Women's Studies Program, "Women in American History," which is another one of my favorites because of the fabulous conversations students engage in as they learn about the different ways to think about women and gender -- I think it can really be a life-changing course. And as director of the Honors Program, I am lucky to teach at least one Honors seminar every semester, such as "Youth Culture," "Race and Ethnicity," "Popular Culture and the Making of Modern America," and the core freshman course on writing, "Critical Research Essay."   


What are the requirements for students enrolling in the Honors Program?

Students in Honors must maintain a 3.5 grade point average, be enrolled in at least one Honors course per semester, and be engaged in leadership and service throughout their four years at CNR. But more importantly, Honors students need to be motivated, enthusiastic, curious, and eager to find new intellectual and social challenges.  


What are the benefits for students to be in the Honors Program?

Honors really allows students to explore their interests, whether in the small, discussion-oriented seminars that the Program offers, or in terms of the independent research projects that they develop in a one-to-one relationship with faculty mentors. It creates a warm and inviting community for talented students to explore their interests, both inside their chosen majors, and in other fields.  All Honors courses are interdisciplinary in nature, meaning that a biology student will find many things that interest her in a course entitled "Women in the Law," and an art student will find something exciting when taking "Genetics and Identity."  As well, most courses in Honors offer a component of what I call the "New York City Experience," meaning the class includes one or more field trips into the City that will enhance the learning experience.  This past year, for example, Honors students attended the Broadway shows "Well" and "Chicago," saw the slavery exhibit at the New York Historical Society, did research at the Schomberg Center, attended a Laurie Anderson concert, and visited the Museum of Sex. Honors also creates innovative learning experiences that aren't connected to any class. This past year, I initiated the Presidential Reading Lyceum, which offered an opportunity for eight honors students to have dinner with the college president. The theme of the evening was a book chosen by President Sweeny -- this time it was Sue Monk Kidd's The Mermaid Chair. The students and the president had dinner, talked about the book, and enjoyed a wonderful evening together, with everyone getting to know one another a little bit better. It was a fantastic event that we look to do much more in the future.


How large is the Honors Program at CNR?

The Honors Program currently enrolls about 55 students, some of whom began the Program as freshmen, and others who decided to apply to the Program after they had been at CNR for a while. The Program features students from every single major offered in the School of Arts and Sciences, offers a range of special topics seminars each semester, and always has menu of extracurricular activities to keep students interested outside of the classroom. And our Honors students come from all over -- Ohio, Arizona, Korea, New York, Bulgaria, Massachusetts, Vietnam, Florida, and so on.


How is the Honors Program different from the normal undergraduate degree program in the School of Arts and Sciences?

Honors students still complete a degree in their chosen major -- that doesn't change. But Honors students have the opportunity to graduate with an Honors Diploma, which means that over the course of their time at CNR, they have fulfilled eight Honors experiences, or courses, including a year-long reading and research colloquium their junior year, and a year-long symposium their senior year. Also, the Honors Program requires a substantial demonstration of leadership and service from each student, whether by leading freshmen orientation for Honors students, contributing to or editing the Honors magazine, Femmes d'Esprit, taking part in regional or national honors conferences, or helping at Open House events.  Honors students also play a role in what kinds of classes will be offered in the Program -- the Honors Board is composed of eight Honors students and two Honors faculty members who meet monthly to consider course proposals, evaluate the curriculum, and figure out what kinds of seminars would appeal to students. It's a very hands-on process, and the Program largely works as well as it does because of the extent of student involvement.


There really isn't any such thing as a typical CNR student, which means that these young women really do have the freedom to figure out what they want to do while they are here, and then how to take it with them when they leave.  They are a huge part of creating this community of learning, and there is rarely a day that I spend in the classroom where I don't want to just sit down and thank them for making it all work.



Tell us a little bit about your involvement with the Olympics?

I am involved in the Olympics in a few different ways.  My connection began with my doctoral dissertation on the black power movement at the Mexico City Olympic Games, which became my first book.  That research led me to my role for NBC Olympics, where for each Olympic Games, I am the Research Room Supervisor. I have been with NBC for the Atlanta, Sydney, Salt Lake, Athens, and Torino Games -- five in all -- and I oversee the 30 or so people who act as the central information network for the broadcast of the Games on NBC networks.   It's a tremendous amount of high-pressure work, but it gives me unparalled access to the Olympics, which are still a main feature of my academic research and writing.  And all of it leads to some really interesting projects -- I am currently, for example, supervising a thesis at a Spanish university, in which the graduate student is focusing on how sports can be used for development in African nations; I write a column on sports and politics for the website Morphizm; and I also travel quite a bit to speak on various facets of my Olympic work.


Do you think sports are important for students?

It really depends on the student and her interests. I think health and well-being are really important for students, and I think that physical activity is key to both.  In terms of organized, competitive sports, that all depends on the individual.


You have taught and lectured on many campuses. What is your experience with CNR students?

I am continually awed by the diversity of the students at CNR, and how the small size of our student body allows so many of them to really flourish.  We have students that represent just about every walk of life, which means that as a professor, I am constantly humbled at just how much they learn from each other, rather than just me, and how much I learn from them.  The flexibility of the Honors Program, for example, really allows students to carve their own place at CNR, figure out just what their interests are, and then it provides the support for them to excel.  There really isn't any such thing as a typical CNR student, which means that these young women really do have the freedom to figure out what they want to do while they are here, and then how to take it with them when they leave.  They are a huge part of creating this community of learning, and there is rarely a day that I spend in the classroom where I don't want to just sit down and thank them for making it all work.


What have some of your students done – in terms of careers and additional degree work--after they have graduated from The College of New Rochelle?

Just as there really isn't a typical CNR student, there also isn't a typical path that they follow, but many of them choose to continue to take advantage of New York City after they graduate. I have former students who are currently enrolled in graduate programs at Columbia, Pace, Hunter, and Fordham. I have a former student working in a highbrow art auction house on the Upper East Side, and another living in Brooklyn and working as a graphic designer for the newspaper Metro.  Others hit the road, such as a recent graduate who is moving to Texas to work as a chemist, and another who will begin graduate work at RIT in medical illustration. But a lot of them do not wait for graduation to take advantage of outside opportunities: many Honors students, for example, use their summers to engage in a range of internship programs. This summer, for example, there's an Honors student doing biological research in New Jersey, another at Harvard, one is working in an accounting firm in the City, and still another is serving in an important role for the Fresh Air Fund. 


L I N K S
      CNR at Torino 2006 Winter Games
      CNR at Athens 2004 Olympics


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