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Janis Massa

Professor Emerita

Janis Massa



B.A., M.A., San Francisco State University
M.A., Ph.D., New York University



Dr. Massa’s commitment to the mission of the Department, the College, and CUNY was unyielding.  She filled a void as one of the few faculty members specializing in sociolinguistics with sub-specialty in English literacy development, the foundation of academic achievement.  She was called on by faculty for her expertise writing development and formative feedback.

Dr. Massa’s achievements extend to scholarship.  Her work has been recognized by some of the most prominent scholars in the field, including Jerome Bruner, one of the most influential cognitive scientists of our time, and leading neurolinguist, James Wertsch.  Her latest publication, “With Education and Justice for All Through the Magic of Music” is under contract with Cambridge Scholar Press, Cambridge, UK, and will be published 2019.  A book-length manuscript, 3rd Space, 4th World, awaits publication. She has laid the ground work to conduct field work in South Africa on the current educational system in Spring, 2019, and in Chile, Fall, 2019.

Janis presents papers regularly at scholarly conferences in Europe, Latin America, and throughout the U.S., including Oxford University Round Table for College and University Leaders and most recently, 25th International Conference on Learning, University of Athens, Greece, June, 2018, The VII International Human Rights Education, University of Chile School of Law, December, 2017, American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Conference, Chicago, Illinois, 2015. She keeps abreast of current research and scholarship, related to the effects of trauma on learning by attending conferences, sponsored by institutions including the International Society for Psychological and Social Approaches to Psychosis (ISPS), and the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University. 

Some of our most effective teachers have emerged from Dr. Massa’s Teaching Practicum, English 783, given in conjunction with the CUNY Graduate Center. Her student evaluations have been among the top in the Department.  She has been called on by administration to fulfill the commitment of the College towards interdivisional collaboration by designing courses to fulfill state and professional educational license criteria in the Division of Education.

Leadership positions include selection by the Fulbright Screening Committee, Washington, D.C.  to read and evaluate applications, election by the University Senate as an Executive Board Member of the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute, the only Dominican Institute in the U.S. She represented the College as an active member of the CUNY ESL Discipline Council, the CUNY Task Force on Developmental Education, chaired by CUNY interim Chancellor, to 2019, V. Rabinowitz.  Recently, she held positions as a Senate-elected member of the Committee on Student Life, and Committee member of the Lehman College Linguistics Advisory Board.  As an extension of her position as Coordinator of the ESL Program in the College, Professor Massa was the Faculty Writing Advisor to all Lehman College English Language Learners. Additionally, she was chosen Panel Member providing extensive review and evaluation of Fulbright Candidates at the College, by the Office of Prestigious Awards.  Her duties to the Department included chief reader and evaluator of Spanish exams.