English Prof Assumes Honors Program Duties

The York College Honors Program recently transitioned leadership from Math Professor Rishi Nath to English Professor Kelly Baker Josephs.

The Honors Program was established in 2002 “to provide academic, cultural and social opportunities to enhance the intellectual development of its highly motivated students.” The program is designed to provide students opportunities for research and exploration in a wide array of courses across the disciplines.

Participating students are introduced to a variety of topics in seminars, lectures and cultural programs, both on and off campus. They pursue a course of study which includes self-designed courses based on their individual interests and are mentored into developing a self-designed honors thesis.

Although she is a new Honors Program director, Dr. Josephs is no stranger to working with the Honors students. “I have supported the Honors Program since my first semester at York College,” said Professor Josephs who came to York in Fall of 2006. “My experiences with Honors students have always been positive, but I mostly participated from the margins ¬– mentoring students, offering H-courses and sometimes attending events.”

Josephs, whose expertise includes Caribbean Literature, Postcolonial Literature and Theory, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Literature of the Black Diaspora, World Anglophone Literature and African-American Literature, also remarked on the timing of the appointment.

“I wanted to become more involved in the Program,” she said. “And with Dr. Nath’s term as director coming to a close at the same time as the end of a few of my own projects, the timing was auspicious and I was happy to accept the Provost's offer to step into the role.”

The new director views her appointment as an opportunity to have direct impact on students. “Like most professors here at York College, I consider interaction with students to be an important part of my contribution to the College,” she said. “I spend quite a bit of time speaking individually with students about their academic performance and goals. Excepting the English majors I advise, however, many of these discussions are limited to the scope of the course the student is taking with me. I am looking forward to being able to help in guiding students more holistically via the Honors Program.”

Dr. Nath, sees nothing but a bright future for the Program under its new leader.

“Dr. Kelly Baker Josephs is a first-rate scholar who has showed tremendous initiative and creativity in organizing high-quality academic programs such as Caribbean Epistemologies Seminar at CUNY and editing the journal Small Axe,” said Nath. “She has mentored several students through the Honors Program and I look forward to her initiatives and leadership.”

Josephs cites Nath’s work with potentially making the transition less bumpy.

“In his capacity as both Director of Undergraduate Research and Director of the Honors Program, Dr. Nath has done much to increase student interest in sustained academic inquiry,” she notes. “I believe his success in raising awareness of such research here at York (amongst both faculty and students) is reflected in our current crop of Honors students.”

Nath and Josephs were preceded as director of the Program by founding director, Dr. Debbie Majerovitz who was succeeded by Dr. Hywel Morgan and Dr. William Ashton, respectively.

Graduates of the Honors Program include Yisa Rumala, ’06, who recently earned a Ph.D. in Applied Physics from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Thulashie Sivarajah, ’07, now a medical student at American University of Antigua; and Vanessa Crevecoeur, a Ph.D. candidate in Molecular Biophysics and Bio-Chemistry at Yale University (degree pending 2013).

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