Sep 19, 2014

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Professor Interview: Susanne Bleiberg Seperson

By Ramona Sav Nolan

Susanne Bleiberg-Seperson is a professor of Sociology at Dowling College. The following interview will give its readers an insight into Dr. Bleiberg Sepersonís interests and life experiences.

Favorite Quote: If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when? Ė Hillel, Ethics of the Fathers, 1:14

1. What was your original major in college?

Sociology.

2. Why did you choose to become a professor?

Good question. In the late sixties and seventies, sociology was the most popular major. My generation thought we could change the world. The economy was booming and I tried out a lot of different jobs, but as a woman I kept hearing the same questions, like ďHow fast can you type?Ē and other questions that would be considered politically incorrect today. I decided that I was really happiest in school. When I was in graduate school at the City University of New York I had the opportunity to be a teaching assistant at City College. I did a lot of independent studies and research projects with the students and worked one on one and in small groups. I really enjoyed interacting with them.

3. What should students look forward to when signing up for one of your classes?

My courses are so varied and so the studentsí experiences will vary as well. I try to include as much of a hands-on experience as possible in my classes because I think learning by doing is much more effective and fun than just rote learning. So in my research methods class the students conduct interviews and surveys. In my social work practica classes the students work with clients in agencies. Even in my online introductory sociology classes I ask the students to conduct observations and interviews so that they are not just learning about sociology, but also doing sociology.

4. What is most rewarding about your profession?

Thatís an easy question: Having an impact on studentsí lives, knowing that I can be a catalyst for them in terms of their future career.

5. Do you have any suggestions to improve Dowling College?

I know other colleges have an event each semester where each faculty member selects an out-standing student to join her/him at a luncheon held on campus and the students are recognized. A brief presentation could also be part of the event. I think this might foster and increase our sense of being part of an academic community.

6. Do you have any advice for students about to graduate?

Go after what you love. The economy will improve eventually, and since you spend so much of your life working, you will be far happier and more successful if you pursue your dream.

7. Do you have any advice for freshman students?

Take advantage of the services offered at the College. Learn to write well and visit your professors during their office hours if you have questions.

8. What are you most proud of?

On a personal level, having raised three caring and successful children. On a professional level, my research on the Holocaust and my work as Director of the Center for Intergenerational Policy and Practice at Dowling.

9. Do you have any guilty pleasures or hobbies?

I hold on to my Architectural Digest magazines way too long. Hobbies include art, boating, and skiing. I went skiing again after a 20 year hiatus and found that itís just like riding a bike. You really donít forget and Iím looking forward to doing more of it with my grandchildren.

10. Who is your favorite musician or artist?

Favorite artist: Vincent Van Gogh and most of the Impressionists. Music: anything from the sixties.

11. What is your favorite book?

I enjoy reading Nelson DeMilleís books for pleasure. The events take place in Long Island and often in my community. I enjoy figuring out the locations and whether they are depicted accurately.

12. What is your favorite movie or television show?

Jeopardy.

13. What are your thoughts about afterlife?

I think that the real afterlife occurs in the memories people have of you after youíre gone.

14. How long have you been teaching at Dowling?

Since 1973. 38 years!

15. What decision do you most regret? (asked by Dr. Rosenstreich)

I try not to look back at regrets. You canít change the past.

16. Where would you next like to visit? (Dr. Wilkens)

Australia.

17. What, and where, was your most memorable meal? (Dr. Gidding)

At the restaurant on top of the World Trade Center. My husband actually won a dinner for two there and we had a great time. I remember the view more than the food though.

18. If you were not an educator, what do you think you would be doing for a living instead? (Dr. McDonnell)

That depends on what era of my life. Now I would probably be working for a non-profit organization. I believe in giving back to your community and so it would probably be something with a service bent.

19. What is your feeling about answering all these questions? (Prof. Tholl)

Too many.

20. What is your favorite city? (Dr. Lamia)

New York City.

21. What is your current research project or creative work about? (Dr. Perring)

Iím interested in the relationship between biography and society and am working on a number of projects— writing about the Holocaust and also analyzing data about an intergenerational program for seniors who are visually impaired.

22. If you could transport yourself now to any year in history, what year would it be? (Prof. Parisi)

Year zero.

23. What do you think life will be like in 2110? (Dr. Vargas)

Actually a lot like today in terms of relationships between men and women, families. However, weíll have a lot more technical and medical advances. Nanotechnology will be everywhere. We will also not be dependent on oil. I think tidal energy will be dominant.

24. Who is the person in history youíd most like to meet and why? (Dr. Wolff)

The medieval philosopher, rabbi, and physician Moses Maimonides who successfully navigated the religious and secular worlds.

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