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Jody Clark Vaisman: Expanding Research and Creative Inquiry at Baruch

Published February 26, 2015 Bookmark and Share



Jody Vaisman

Jody Vaisman, Associate Director and
Academic Program Manager of Baruch's Honors Program

 

When Jody Vaisman, associate director and academic program manager of Baruch’s Honors Program, joined the staff in 2010, she was surprised to learn that honors students weren’t required to write a thesis to graduate. “Research is a high-impact learning process,” says Vaisman, who holds master’s and PhD degrees in higher education and postsecondary education from NYU. (Her undergraduate degree in English and political science is from University of Missouri-Columbia.) “It yields a greater benefit for underprepared students. So, it shouldn’t be limited to elite schools; it may be even more important at a public, urban commuter school.”


Research will not only help students get into grad school, but they’ll produce a lovely piece of writing that they can show to future employers they can say, ‘I’m an expert in this small area.’ They follow their interests and take ownership of their own learning.

Vaisman taught a SPA course, Research Methods for the Education Administrator, and helped initiate a faculty seminar on research drawing together faculty and administrators. Several participating faculty went on to help write Baruch’s five-year Strategic Plan, incorporating the importance of undergraduate research as part of strengthening undergraduate education at Baruch.


A New Honors Track

Part of this initiative is the launch of Inquiry Scholars, a new track within the Honors Program centered on research and creative inquiry. Beginning this spring with 10 students, “It’s a way for transfer students to come into the honors program as well as students who are already at Baruch,” says Vaisman. In that regard it’s similar to Vaisman’s existing Provost Scholars Program, “the one program students can enter once they’re already at Baruch, unlike Macaulay and Baruch Scholars, where they apply in high school,” notes Vaisman. “I see them as late bloomers. They have lower SAT scores but graduate with higher GPAs.”


She gives an example of how research opened doors for a Provost Scholar: “A student was interested in writing a thesis, but didn’t have the time so I helped him put together an independent study about interest-free lending in the Muslim world. His grades were average for an honors student, but he got into the Yale pre-MBA program based on this research project.”


Creative Inquiry Day


“We realized that we have to celebrate the research that’s being done on campus,” says Vaisman. Thus was born Creative Inquiry Day, a showcase for student projects, held for the first time last May. Vaisman recalls a couple of impressive entries: “We had a student an accounting major who wrote children’s books and wound up getting a book publishing deal for two of them. He was writing them for his nephew, to help him learn to read."


In addition, “A student from Fine and Performing Arts wrote a quintet that was performed by the Alexander Quartet; she played piano along with them.” The next Creative Inquiry Day will be held May 14, 2015.


An honors education is simply a good education, and everybody deserves that. I want the Honors Program to be the tide that raises all boats.


Challenges: “Getting people to broaden their conception of what constitutes research. There wasn’t a pre-existing culture of undergrad research at Baruch. I bumped up against ‘We’re a business school; business students don’t do research.’ When you look at it more broadly, if you’re running a business plan, of course you’re researching a company, an industry.”


Goals: “My goals are to pilot the Inquiry Scholar Program in the next year with 10 students; and to give more students the opportunity of an honors education.”