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Enriching Learning, Pioneering Innovative Teaching Strategies, and Building Community: The Fruits of Collaboration Between NYUCD/NYUCN and NYU's College of Arts and Science

"Front row, seated, from left: Dr. Frederick G. More, Dr. Andrew I. Spielman, Dean Terry Fulmer; back row, standing, from left: Dr. Ralph V. Katz, Dr. Hila Richardson, Dr. Daniel Malamud, Dr. Leila Jahangiri"

Graphic from promotional poster for an NYUCD/CAS cross-campus lecture

Dean Matthew S. Santirocco

NYU's College of Dentistry (NYUCD), College of Nursing (NYUCN), and College of Arts and Science (CAS), have been collaborating for the better part of the past decade on a series of unique initiatives that enable CAS to take full advantage of the benefits offered by professional school faculty, while at the same time providing opportunities for these faculty to be exposed to the perspectives, aspirations, and values of liberal arts students - experiences that help to refresh their approaches to teaching and spur additional forms of collaboration.

The impetus for many of the collaborations was provided by Dr. Matthew S. Santirocco, Professor of Classics and, for the past 15 years, the Seryl Kushner Dean of the College of Arts and Science, and they have flourished through the enthusiastic support, first, of former Dean Michael C. Alfano and, currently, NYUCD Dean Charles N. Bertolami, and NYUCN Dean Terry Fulmer.

"NYU's liberal arts college is surrounded by very strong professional schools," says Dean Santirocco, "and we can add value to the education we provide by reaching out to faculty from across the University to teach courses to our undergraduate students, to act as their research mentors, to develop dual degree programs, and to contribute to co-curricular offerings. In this way, we provide our students with something they could not get at most other liberal arts colleges, namely, appropriate access to the extraordinary resources of the entire research university. In our efforts to realize this vision, our collaboration with the Colleges of Dentistry and Nursing has been invaluable. I am enormously grateful to Mike Alfano, Charles Bertolami, and Terry Fulmer for their partnership, support, and creativity."

Examples of the multiple ways in which this collaboration flourishes are discussed below.

CAS Freshman Seminars Taught by Dental and Nursing Faculty

The Freshman Honors Seminar Program was created in 1992 with a handful of courses. This past semester, students from CAS (and other undergraduate units) had over 60 courses from which to choose. The involvement of Dentistry in this program took off in 2003, with a course entitled "Ethics, Pointillism, Epidemiology, and Epistemology: EPEE Dueling with Scientific Health Information," which was designed and taught by Dr. Ralph V. Katz, Professor and Chair of the Department of Epidemiology & Health Promotion at NYUCD, who has now taught in the program for five semesters. A list of faculty from the Colleges of Dentistry and, now, Nursing who have taught at CAS since the program's inception appears below.

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Because the collaboration is a two-way street, the participating dental and nursing faculty also benefit from the experience. Says Dr. Katz: "The privilege and joy of teaching beginning liberal arts students in a liberal arts course of my own design is a refreshing change in teaching from my 'more bound up' courses at the DDS, master's and PhD levels. Moreover, the bonds formed in a seminar class of just 12 to 16 students are strong and lasting and have led to subsequent formal one-on-one tutorial experiences with these same students, one as a tutorial within the Department of Philosophy, another as a Research Mentor for a student who was awarded a Dean's Undergraduate Research Fund Award."

Adds Dr. Hila Richardson, Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs at the College of Nursing: "Working with freshman students is an extraordinary opportunity to experience firsthand the inquisitive and intelligent students who are entering NYU. Their ability to reason through and reflect on complex public health issues has consistently surpassed my expectations."

CAS Freshmen Working with Clinical and Research Mentors at NYUCD/NYUCN

Another component of the NYUCD/NYUCN/CAS collaboration involves students who are engaged in research and clinical projects on a one-to-one basis with faculty at the Colleges of Dentistry and Nursing. For example, last year three CAS students were assigned to the following NYUCD sites: Dr. Daniel Malamud's lab, the Department of Prosthodontics, and the Comprehensive Care treatment area.

In addition, beginning in spring 2010, several research opportunities for CAS students will be made available at the College of Nursing, and for summer 2010, the Colleges of Dentistry and Nursing plan to expand their innovative, collaborative eight-week Summer Research Experience Program to include CAS students interested in careers in the health sciences. This program uses dental and nursing faculty mentors to expose dental and nursing - and soon CAS - students to a unique "hands-on" research experience that creates excitement about research as a career path.

Dual Degree BA/DDS Program

In existence since the mid-70s, this seven-year program now includes 22 students. It enables highly motivated students who are certain that they want to pursue a career in dentistry to explore the dental profession while completing an undergraduate major in biology.

Dual Degree Programs in Nursing

CAS has long provided the liberal arts "general education" component for nursing undergraduates, and now plans are in progress for an innovative new dual degree program that would create a seamless undergraduate/graduate educational trajectory for CAS students interested in pursuing careers in nursing. The vision of CAS and NYUCN is that students graduating from CAS would immediately enroll either in NYUCN's dual BS/MS program or its new BS/DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) program. In addition, discussions are underway to create a dual BS/PhD program for those who opt to pursue a career as a nurse-scientist.

Building Community Through Cross-Campus Lectures

In fall 2009, NYUCD and CAS embarked on an ingenious new initiative designed to expand access to a special event at NYUCD by repeating it later in the day at CAS's Washington Square Campus. The idea originated with Dr. Ralph Katz, who had invited two well-known historical researchers and commentators on the Tuskegee Syphilis Study* to lecture on consecutive days at NYUCD. Given the importance of the subject, and the prominence of the lecturers, Dr. Katz invited Dean Santirocco to cosponsor the lectures in an additional, combined, one-day forum so that the CAS community could also have access to the lectures.

Says Dean Charles N. Bertolami, "These rich interactions suggest the potential for future mutually beneficial linkages between NYUCD/NYUCN and CAS that support NYU's aspirations and values as a 'Common Enterprise University,' which NYU President John Sexton defines, in part, as one that 'celebrates conversations not only across cultures, but also across traditional disciplinary boundaries,' and in which 'faculty … dedicate their time and energy not only to their graduate students, but also to undergraduates. In all this and more, they … internalize the collective interest as part of their own interests.'

"We are enthusiastic about this collaboration," adds Dean Bertolami. "The true value of the learning that is engendered through these collaborations is immeasurable, and I have no doubt that both students and faculty come out of these experiences with a broader perspective on the meaning of education than they otherwise would have gained."

*The Tuskegee Syphilis Study is widely considered to be the most infamous research study (1942–1972) in U.S. history. In it, 399 African-American male sharecroppers in Macon County, Alabama, were denied treatment for syphilis and deceived by officials of the U.S. Public Health Service so that researchers could observe the effects of untreated syphilis on various organ systems.