Natasha TursiNatasha O. Tursi’s life is a study in synergy.  The Assistant Dean of University College recently earned her Ph.D. in housing with a minor in community development from the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University in New Brunswick.  Her research interests center on poverty and social inequality.  Working in Camden, whose challenges have been well-documented, has allowed her to collect anecdotal data.  The former senior counselor for the Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) Program, who worked with disadvantaged students, says, “The students gave me the real stories, and informed and shaped my research interests.” 

Natasha first became interested in the implications of housing policy, poverty, and social injustice on the well-being of society when she came to the United States from Germany at age twenty-two.  Her positive experiences of public housing and public schools in a city setting in Germany differed from what she saw here in the United States, and it sparked her interest.  While enrolled at Rutgers-Camden as an undergraduate student, she took classes in methods of urban planning, power and decision-making in urban communities, community welfare planning, and so on, and that set her on the path that she’s on today.  “I received an excellent education at Rutgers-Camden,” she says.  “Camden is a lovely training ground for anyone in public policy, urban studies, and political science.”

Currently, Natasha is focused on turning her dissertation, Poverty Deconcentration, Housing Mobility, and the Construction of Recent U.S. Housing Policy: A Discourse Analysis of the Policy-Making Process, into a full-length book.  In addition, she and a colleague in New Brunswick plan on analyzing data later this year from the 2011 American Housing Survey (AHS), the largest, regular national housing sample survey in the U.S., which provides information on a variety of housing indicators, as well as income, housing, and neighborhood quality.  Natasha and her collaborator plan on writing an article based on their findings.  Natasha will also be back in the classroom this fall; she will teach a colloquium on housing policy to graduate students in the Department of Public Policy and Administration.  She also was offered to teach a course in policy analysis in the Department of Political Science next spring.  Natasha is not daunted by the task.  “I’m excited to be back in the classroom,” she says.  “I thrive in intellectual stimulation.”  She hopes to motivate her students to engage in research, and would like to link her students and their research to the new Center for Urban Research Education (CURE), headed by Dr. Paul Jargowsky, Professor of Public Policy and Administration. “It is exciting to have the center [CURE] serving as a conduit for urban research for our faculty and students with the potential for getting the students’ research published,” Natasha says.

In her current job as Assistant Dean of University College, Natasha uses her knowledge and experience to design, administer, and evaluate a program for traditionally aged freshmen who enter Rutgers through the Academic Transitions Program (ATP) and helps them adjust to the rigors of college life.  In addition, she examines student data for the non-traditionally aged University College population to inform their advising needs and services, to improve their degree completion process, inform course sequencing, and so on.  Natasha is committed to the work, and says, above all else, “helping students succeed is my primary mission.”   

About Natasha O. Tursi

Hometown: Castrop-Rauxel, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Position: Assistant Dean of University College