Montclair State graduates remember favorite professors who were teachers and mentors, and whose wisdom has stayed with them throughout the years.
English professor and Honors Program Director Gregory Waters, who retires this summer, taught, advised and inspired hundreds, if not thousands, of students, becoming a mentor and friend to many in his 33 years at Montclair State. “I remember Dr. Waters as the most empathetic and compassionate professor I have ever had,” recalls Jennifer Ocampo ’13. “Not only did he create a safe space where I always felt comfortable being myself, but he also encouraged me and made me feel like I mattered and belonged.”
A respected administrator as well as teacher, Waters has served in many capacities including senior roles in the Provost’s Office, Advancement, and even for a time as Interim President. “Dr. Waters was my English professor, advisor and Honors Program director,” says Jaclyn Gass ’17. “He built my confidence as a writer and prospective educator.”
As an advisor and mentor, Waters has left a lasting impression on many of his students. “Dr. Waters taught me the value of taking risks in academic, professional and personal life,” says Rachel Belsky ’18. “He has inspired me to challenge myself in classes, take on new opportunities and study abroad in other countries.”
For some, Waters was an invaluable resource both at Montclair State and in their post-graduate pursuits. “His passion for teaching and infectious enthusiasm for helping others inspired me to become the teacher that I am today,” says Ellen Gianakis ’13.
Renowned for his compassion and caring for his students, Waters has been a strong presence in the lives of many. “As an out-of-state student, Dr. Waters is like second family to me. He always makes sure to check in on me, ask about my family, and keep abreast of my academic success,” says Megan Hasse ’18.
Through the years, students have routinely sought out Waters’ advice. “He is one of the most kind-hearted and caring faculty members at Montclair State, which is why his office is typically flooded with students who are looking for advice, myself included,” says Stephen Blazejewski ’17.
Noah Befeler ’17 agrees: “Dr. Waters is one of the most kind and caring professors I've ever had the pleasure of working with.”
Since joining Montclair State in 1984, Waters has taught a variety of English and literature courses with passion and inspiration. “His vast knowledge of and appreciation for history and literature has consistently inspired me to want to learn and take in as much as I possibly can,” says Valerie Jaretzky ’19.
Michael Shoykhet ’18 echoes that sentiment. “Professor Waters’ love of literature and language is inspiring, and in his teaching, he masterfully demonstrates meaning in literary works. I consider myself fortunate to have learned from him.”