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Meet Our Staff: Naomi Nemtzow, Psychology

Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership

Meet Our Staff: Naomi Nemtzow, Psychology

Naomi NemtzowIt's a known truth: artists are serving you your coffee, trimming your hair, and mixing your cocktails. But it’s certainly also true that in almost every office building in America you can find an assortment of working artists who’ve developed professional careers alongside their creative work. Naomi Nemtzow, Academic Program Specialist for the Department of Psychology, is one such artist. 
 
Before arriving at City College of New York in 2010, Nemtzow was director of the writing center at Polytechnic University, an engineering college that is now the NYU Polytechnic Institute. A painter and member of an artist-run cooperative gallery, Nemtzow began her career in higher education after giving an artist’s talk and meeting a colleague afterward who suggested she try her hand at teaching writing. “I was raising kids and looking for part-time work,” she said. “I was very involved at my daughter’s school. Teaching was a natural fit for me.”
 
Nemtzow has always been ready to take on new challenges. She moved from teaching writing to reluctant engineering students (“The bad news is that you have to write; the good news is that we’ll teach you how.”) to coordinating a writing across the curriculum program, to directing the writing center that would later merge with a larger tutoring center. After nearly ten years running the tutoring center, Nemtzow sought new challenges. “I’ve always been a big believer in public higher education,” she said, “and soon I found myself at the psychology department at the City College of New York.” 
 
The Advisement Road Show 
 
Psychology is one of six departments offering majors at the Colin Powell School, and is the biggest, with over 1000 undergraduate students, two masters programs (Masters in Mental Health Counseling and Masters in Psychology) and a doctoral program in clinical psychology, run through the Graduate Center, CUNY, and housed on the City College campus. 
 
Nemtzow works with Department Chair Robert Melara and program directors to coordinate course schedules; create staff development workshops for lecturers, adjuncts, doctoral students, and new full-time faculty; and, most importantly, has implemented new methods in reaching undergraduates and getting them in front of advisers. 
 
“We call it the advisement road show,” Nemtzow said. “We developed a short presentation I can give in the large lecture classes so I can reach 200 students at a time. I go over the basics, and inevitably students have additional needs and questions about their individual situation, so we’ve had good luck getting follow-up from students who had never come to our office before.”
 
Connecting Visions
 
Nemtzow says that the mission of the Colin Powell School complements her personal mission to serve students, especially in the case of those who are less prepared for the college experience, or who need help connecting to resources. After making huge steps in her time here, she has her eye on what lies ahead. 
 

“I hope that we can raise graduation and retention rates, which are comparable to other public universities but still need major improvement. And I hope that our undergraduate students can find more opportunities with the Colin Powell School’s emphasis on community engagement and service.” 

 
Though Nemtzow, with a smile, calls painting “her other life,” one could make connections between the thinking that goes into her art and her expertise at creating efficient systems tailored to the specific needs of an urban institution. Her most recent show, “New Urban Landscape,” featured observational paintings of the city paired with collages that, in her description, “are really dealing with the same subject matter, but simplified in a distilled version.” However you see it, there’s no doubt that Nemtzow will continue pairing her passion for student empowerment with creative solutions for academic success.