CUNY Academy for the Humanities and Sciences

The CUNY Academy’s Henry Wasser Awards are named in honor of one of CUNY’s most devoted educators.  

Henry Wasser....Henry Wasser earned his BA and MA from Ohio State University and his PhD from Columbia University in 1951.  Most of his teaching career in English, with a specialty in American Studies, was at City College (1946-1966).  In those years he was awarded Fulbright professorships at Thessaloniki and Oslo. He was one of the first City College faculty members to obtain a Fulbright award in the years when McCarthyism tainted City College as a den of unpatriotic Americans.  
Dr. Wasser’s publications include The Scientific Thought of Henry Adams as well as a long list of works on American studies and higher education.  In 1966 he left CCNY to become the founding Dean of the Faculty at CUNY’s new, experimental, upper-division Richmond College (after 1976, the College of Staten Island).  As dean, he recruited a young and enthusiastic faculty and he invited them to shape a system of college governance which maximized faculty-led decision-making. Richmond College faculty members created a community of scholars, encouraged by Henry, which saw itself as the source of college policy.  In 1966 Henry Wasser was a rare pioneer who supported the idea of interdisciplinary education.  

In 1973, Henry left Richmond to become Vice President for Academic Affairs at California State - Sacramento but then returned to CUNY to serve as the Director for European Studies at the Graduate School and Chair of the University Faculty Senate (1980-86).  Under his leadership, the Senate supported the creation of the CUNY Academy of the Humanities and Sciences and after 1986, he served as President and Executive Director of the Academy.  

The CUNY Academy was created to support the work of young faculty members, to provide an opportunity for them to present their research, to organize conferences and feature overseas scholars.  The Academy fostered a Higher Education Seminar, another of Henry’s ideas, to address the drastic changes occurring in higher education which saw the exponential growth of administrators and their authority.  His concern extended to his overseas involvement in higher education conferences, notably those held in Turkey.  Ever-present was his concern for the central role of faculty in governance.  

In line with Henry’s vision, the Academy established the Felix Gross Endowment Awards and the William Stewart Travel Awards.  To honor Henry, the University Faculty Senate passed this resolution on September 20, 2016.

The Henry Wasser Awards are a fitting tribute to this devoted colleague and spokesperson for faculty authority and achievement.

CUNY Academy for the Humanities and Sciences
Graduate Center of the City University of New York
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