Professor Highlight: Raja T. Nasr, Business English Professor
January 29, 2018
By: Mark Zhong, PhD., Administrative Dean
“Classroom teaching is very much like a vacation for me,” said Professor Nasr to his MBA students on the first day of class at Clarewood University.
Who has ever met a man who is way past his retirement age still eagerly wanting to teach? Well, I have met someone who is, and that person is Dr. Raja T. Nasr, who applied to teach Clarewood’s Business English course for the winter quarter. I was skeptical about having him teach at first, concerned about his age. I was not sure he would be able to, despite his Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Education and Linguistics and his rich business background. However, after an enjoyable conversation with him one sunny afternoon, I became thoroughly convinced that he was the right man for the job.
Dr. Nasr has very impressive credentials. He grew up as a multilingual individual, learning English, German, Arabic, and French in this order. After receiving his Doctoral degree from the University of Michigan, he lectured in several universities around the world, trained English and Arabic language teachers in 21 countries and four continents, and he served 16 governments in the development of language programs for their education systems. He has also published 45 articles and 60 books in the fields of Education, Applied Linguistics, and English and Arabic as second or foreign languages. Among the books he published are three English-Arabic dictionaries.
When I asked him more about his statement from the first day of class, he told me, “People take vacations to enjoy themselves, see and learn something new, and somehow add to the meaningfulness of their lives by interacting with different people and cultures, as well as being of some service to humanity. And this is exactly what classroom teaching means to me.”
Clarewood is a start-up university and our budget is limited. I felt apologetic for not being able to offer him the salary he really deserves, but he assured me that the real rewards of teaching for him are in motivating his students and helping to promote their success in both their academic pursuits and in their personal, social, and professional lives thereafter.
Before he started teaching our course, I wondered if he would be able to stand up in class for a four-hour class session. So, I prepared a comfortable chair for him to sit in while in class, but he surprised me. He is so enthusiastic about teaching that he is on his feet during the entire class session. I learned from him that he is very positive in his attitude and dispositions. He has had several downturns in his life. Three times in his lifetime he lost all of his possessions, mainly as a result of war situations and other unfortunate circumstances. He has suffered from three different cancers in the last twenty years. Yet, he has not allowed any negative elements to affect him or his outlook on life. During his chemotherapy treatment for two years, he told me he never missed a single class. This kind of dedication to teaching and service is certainly contagious. It is his abiding passion.
I think his Business English class will not only provide our students the hands-on ability to improve their communication competencies in the international business world, but will, additionally, through his inspiring lectures, wisdom, and rich life experiences, develop in them a positive spirit and attitude to face the world ahead.
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