No matter what course Steven Rovt is teaching, be it principles of management, business ethics, or business policy, one thing remains the same.
“If I see students struggling, I’m going to get involved,” said Rovt, who will be celebrating his fifteenth year at the college later this year. “I treat my students the same way I want to be treated. If a student is having a problem I’ll either talk with him about it, or I’ll have an academic advisor speak with them. You can’t be hands off—that doesn’t lead to anything.”
Rovt attended Lander College of Arts and Sciences himself and graduated in 1996. He then attended Long Island University for a master’s degree in public administration. In his last semester, a light flicked on inside him.
“I had a sudden urge to start teaching,” he recalled.
A mutual friend of the dean of LAS heard about his interest and reached out to see if Rovt would teach a class. “It was love at first class,” laughed Rovt, noting that he had to push off the final examination of his degree to teach his first class.
“Something crystalized for me, I realized I could make a living teaching, but more importantly, I could make a real difference.”
Rovt became an adjunct professor at Touro in 2002 and became a full-time professor in 2004. Each semester he teaches between 3-5 classes along with several independent studies with students. He has held several prestigious jobs as administrators in schools and health care companies.
Part of the success of his teaching, Rovt explained, comes from the open and dynamic nature of his classroom.
“If I’m boring myself, then I’m boring my students.”
“I avoid one-way conversation,” Rovt said. “My feeling is that if I’m boring myself, then I’m definitely boring my students. I make class participation 10-20 percent of their grade. I love it when students argue with me; I debate with them. When you can show someone something they didn’t know, it’s the most amazing feeling.”
Rovt also encourages students to bring the issues they face at their jobs into the classroom. “I’m a supervisor at such and such and my boss is doing X or Y, what do you advise? This is real teaching. It’s not just helping but really making a difference in someone’s life.”
Rovt’s passion also extends outside the classroom and he’s been active nationally combatting anti-Semitism. When Rovt found out that cyber-giant Amazon was selling Nazi memorabilia, he complained to the company. After Amazon refused to take action, Rovt reached out to the media and was featured on Eyewitness News. Shortly after the controversy became publicized, the items disappeared from Amazon’s site.
Rovt’s favorite moments of the teaching experience often occur after classes, even years after graduation. “I had a student who recognized me at the gym,” recalled Rovt. “I taught him eight years ago and now he owns a multimillion dollar business. He told me I gave him the impetus to move forward. That’s what I want for my students: I want them to have a great job and to be successful. It feels like I contributed to their ability to put bread on the table.”
Touro is also a family affair for Rovt. His wife is a graduate of Touro’s Graduate School of Education and three of his daughters have studied in LAS. One is currently enrolled in Touro’s School of Health Sciences Industrial Organizational Psychology program.
“No matter how old I get, I always feel young because of the students around me,” stated Rovt. “I teach them and they teach me. It’s truly gratifying.”