Professor Recognized for Putting Students First

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Evangelical Fiction

Leonard Cassuto, PhD., professor of English
Photo by Karen Mancinelli

Leonard Cassuto, PhD, professor of English, has been awarded the 2015 Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools Mentoring Award.  The award will be presented to Cassuto on April 17 at the group’s annual meeting in Massachusetts.

In addition to his graduate advising at Fordham, Cassuto writes a much-cited monthly column called “The Graduate Adviser” for the Chronicle of Higher Education.  The Award committee cited “the many initiatives” Cassuto has promoted both at Fordham and nationally, along with the “enduring impact” of his work both at Fordham and in “the broader graduate student community.”

In nominating him for the award, Eva Badowska, PhD, interim dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS), said that Cassuto “mentors for life.”

“He invests in his students in ways that transcend the boundaries typically imposed by the graduate seminar, the degree, and even the achievement of an academic placement,” she said, “And he does so with a grace and completeness that boggles the imagination.”

Cassuto was honored as the GSAS Teacher of the Year in 2009, and was the keynote speaker at Arts and Sciences Faculty Day last year. He said he hoped this latest award would call attention to the importance of teaching.

“The bottom line is, it’s a service profession. If you’re not trying to leave things better than you found them, then why do this thing?” he said.

“I’m lucky to get this recognition, but the profession has to provide more of it.  If we’re going to promote good teaching alongside good research, then we have to spotlight more good teachers.”

Paul Thifault, PhD, GSAS ’12 recalled that Cassuto, while his dissertation director, invited him to be his editorial assistant for two of his books, The Cambridge History of The American Novel and The Cambridge Companion to Baseball.

When Thifault recently landed a tenure-track position at a college in Massachusetts, he said Cassuto did not hesitate to take his call on a Saturday morning seeking advice about the job offer.

“Lenny never stops thinking about how his own scholarship, successes, and opportunities can benefit his students,” said Thifault. “At this moment, he may [even]be thinking ‘Now I can tell my students how to win a mentoring award.’

“Lenny prefers the term adviser to mentor, because he believes ‘mentor’ is a status one must earn,” said Thiefault. “But a generation of Fordham grad students believe he’s earned it.”

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