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Encounters: NYU professors

Heartwarming short stories that highlight the encounters between professors and students at NYU.

December 5, 2022

Eight million people interact in beautiful, chaotic and unexpected ways every day in New York City — but these interactions often go unnoticed. Welcome back to the third installment of Encounters, a collection of tales about everyday New Yorkers who will hopefully make you smile.

Some NYU professors put in the extra mile to develop meaningful connections with their students. WSN interviewed three professors from different schools who perfectly encapsulate this attitude.

The professor who inspires

A female with black curly hair wears a long red coat and is looking toward the left.
A female with black curly hair wears a long red coat and is smiling and looking toward the camera.

After asking a number of Stern students about their favorite professors, Amal Shehata emerged as the front-runner. After speaking to her, I could not agree more. 

Shehata has been teaching at NYU for around 14 years and currently conducts a course on financial accounting at the Stern School of Business. She was recognized for her teaching as a recipient of the Stern Distinguished Teaching Award in 2018 and the NYU Distinguished Teaching Award in 2021.

“I have amazing interactions with students every day, and that’s why I love my job. I have a chance to be with my students and learn from them. The interactions I have with them are both on the heavy side and on the fulfilling, lighter side. I get to connect with them. 

I was just giving a presentation for students interested in a program that I run, and I had seniors there. One of the seniors was talking about how she got into the program, and she said she took my class and it changed her life. I felt so touched that I have that kind of privilege to touch and help shape somebody’s life, guide them, and that I could give her advice and help her discover her passions, her career interests and her skills.

I have another student that I remember who’s an alum now who was a superstar in the classroom — strong, outgoing, participating, great opinions. She wasn’t getting the job. She then came to talk to me about recruiting, and the minute we started talking about recruiting, she shrinks into her seat. And I said, ‘What’s going on here? Where’s the woman I see in the classroom, so confident and engaged? She just had to find her confidence, and she didn’t have her confidence. She didn’t realize that she was going to get multiple offers. I knew and many knew that she had the skills, but somebody had to tell her and show her the mirror. I felt really happy to be able to be a part of that, because she’s moved on and she found her voice.”

The professor who will always listen

A male with gray hair wearing a long-sleeved blue-and-white squared shirt, smiles as he holds a film camera.
A male with gray hair, wearing a long-sleeved blue-and-white squared shirt, stands in front of a background of, to the left, shelves with D.V.D. movies stacked in rows and a computer to the right.

For many CAS students like myself, feeling like an outsider makes the Tisch School of the Arts building a terrifying place to enter. But like many of his students, Christopher Goutman made me feel like I was in a safe place where I could be heard.

Goutman, a production and writing professor for almost 10 years, has an impressive career in producing, directing, acting and writing. He is most recognized for his work on soap operas, for which he has won five Emmys.

“I like to think of all of my interactions with students as wholesome. It’s certainly something I aspire to. I’m here simply to facilitate their growth, both personally, as artists, as citizens and as crafts people. I try to tailor whatever I do to each specific student — everyone learns differently, everyone processes information differently and everyone works at their own pace. However, I’m very much interested in their learning skills. In other words, I just want them to grow, but also I want them to have a good time. 

This industry is a business, but the business should be fun. It’s tough, but it’s also incredibly gratifying. And if you’re able to make a life in it, it’s incredibly rewarding. I encourage everyone to be appreciative of that. When I have a wholesome interaction, it’s when we have a dialogue.  

This student, she’s working on her final project, and she wrote her script. She brought it to me and I gave my opinion of it. Just today, she emailed me. She said she had worked on the script and wanted to meet again to talk about that. And that, to me, is a wholesome interaction, one where the dialogue continues, and one where it never ends.

With every piece of work as an artist, you’re never truly finished. In television, you’re not finished with their script until they rip it out of your hand. So this interaction to me was just so wholesome, because I think it was an exchange in which she continued to be excited about her work and she continued to try to improve it. I don’t know if we’ll ever get the right answer, but we are continuing to find the right questions.”

The professor who wants to have an impact

A male wearing glasses, a navy blue blazer and a blue shirt holds a red book with his hands. Behind him is a bookshelf with multiple rows of books with red, green, blue, black and brown covers.
A male wearing glasses, a navy blue blazer and a blue shirt holds the tip of a red book with his right hand. This book is placed on a bookshelf that has multiple rows of books with red, green, blue, black and brown covers.

Vladimir Lupan stands out among a long list of renowned educators for his generosity and kindheartedness. Students line up at the door with anticipation 20 minutes before the start of his class. There is little doubt that during his first semester of teaching at NYU, he gained the respect and love of his students.

Lupan is a professor of international organizations at NYU’s College of Arts and Science. He served as the Republic of Moldova’s former ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations, participated in three peacekeeping operations, and has advised the president of Moldova on foreign policy for almost 12 years.

“This is the first semester I’m teaching at NYU, and I’m glad that I’m teaching here. I’m teaching not at the graduate level, but at the undergraduate level, so it’s a different story. In my life, for a certain period of time, I started to teach here and there, and I wanted to transfer that experience that I had at home and with various international organizations, and it evolved into a full-time teaching job. I started teaching at several universities due to my previous career of work directly with those organizations.

I was an ambassador to the United Nations, and that allowed me to teach the course on international organizations, which piqued the interest of many students. I’m still hopeful that at the end of the course, I will have more or less the same type of reaction and attitudes from the students, myself as well — this sort of satisfaction that I’ve given the students as much as I could, that they have received it and can recognize this.”

Contact Camila Ceballos at [email protected].

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