TOURO
STUDENTS’ CHOICE

A good teacher can change the way a student looks at a subject; an excellent teacher can change the way a student looks at the world. This year, we asked Touro’s graduating students a simple question: During their time at Touro, who inspired them? Who served as their mentor? Which faculty member had the greatest impact? We collated the hundreds of responses and seven faculty members rose to the top. Our students chose seven outstanding faculty members as the recipients of Touro’s Students’ Choice. ProfessorJames “Skip” Vaccarino was chosen by the students of Graduate School of Business.

James “Skip” Vaccarino, M.S.

Adjunct Professor, Human Resources

Graduate School of Business

James Vaccarino

WHAT HIS STUDENTS SAY

Professor Vaccarino was a teacher, both inside the classroom and outside of it,” said Brandon Gregg. “He’s an excellent teacher and the guest speakers from his class were always fascinating. He’s a very inspiring and wise professor.”

- Brandon Gregg

James “Skip” Vaccarino has a teaching philosophy he borrowed from his 30-plus years in human resources.

“As a recruiter you’re engaging people to come in and look at the uniqueness of the company,” stated Vaccarino, a professor at Touro’s Graduate School of Business. “As a teacher you’re engaging students to come in and look at what is unique about the subject and the course.”

Vaccarino trained as an early childhood specialist, and his first love was teaching. He never thought he would work in HR, but when New York City had its major financial crisis in the '70s, his public-school teaching career was put on hold. Vaccarino, then newly married, took an interview at Manufacturers Hanover Trust Company.

It was a fortuitous meeting for him. “This was in the seventies and this personnel manager rotated us throughout the company with stints in recruiting, employee relationships and benefits and compensation,” said Vaccarino. “The personnel manager was creating the idea of an HR generalist, long before it became common in HR departments.”

“I didn’t even go with a resume,” laughed Vaccarino. “I didn’t even know what a resume was. I felt—not to be spiritual—that a higher power was helping me out. After I became successful, I felt that I had a mission to train people to not have that terrifying experience while waiting for their first interview.”

For the next thirty years, Vaccarino had a successful career in human resources, including launching his own staffing company. He is currently Executive Vice President at Noor Associates where he is responsible for leading a team that recruits and staffs a diverse portfolio of global clients. Previously, he held senior positions at several recruitment firms and major Wall Street banks including Brown Brothers Harriman, Smith Barney and L.F. Rothchild, Unterberg & Towbin. In 1988, he worked with the Academy of Finance, under guru Sandy Weil of Citibank, to lead a team to support non-college bound high school students in operational roles for Wall Street.

“It was a perfect career for people who couldn’t afford college,” stated Vaccarino who traveled to different high schools across NYC to introduce students to the program.

At the age of 60, Vaccarino decided it was time to return to his first passion—teaching—and go back to school to get his master’s degree in education. While at Touro’s Graduate School of Education, the Graduate School of Business heard about his HR experience and offered him the opportunity to teach a course. He began teaching in 2012.

“Teaching at Touro is a dream come true.”

SKIP VACCARINO

Vaccarino believes that part of his teaching success stems from how he teaches. He doesn’t believe in teaching in lessons.

“I conduct my classes as if my students were attending a staff meeting,” said Vaccarino. “I give my students an agenda and I encourage them to participate, advising them that in that setting they have a responsibility to let their future managers know that they were there. I model it after meetings they will have in the corporate world.”

Since beginning at GSB, Vaccarino also helped launch the school’s successful career resource center through his contacts.

“I had 150 trained, aggressive recruiters in my company,” he explained. “I provided them with a chance to pay back some of their success by helping our students. Our career resource center runs the gamut from interview training, resume writing to social media branding. We have a tremendous and strong commitment from my old firm.”

Vaccarino, who teaches capstone courses in the MS in Human Resource Management degree, said he’s inspired by his students.

“Most of my students work a full day and then go to class for three hours, usually after a two-hour commute,” he explained. “The fact that they show up and are engaged means a lot to me. Teaching at Touro is a dream come true.”

HIS OBJECT

We asked each member of the faculty to choose an item that holds a special significance for them.

Vaccarino’s choice: a pencil. “This pencil has been my trademark both professionally and in academia,” explained Vaccarino. “I often think of this quote from journalist Dustin Dwyer: ‘When employed by a skilled teacher, this simple technology of a pencil allows kids to tinker, try, fail and try again. It builds fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, critical thinking and creativity. Best of all, in a time of shrinking school funds, this technology is incredibly affordable!'”

INTERESTING FACT

Visitors to Vaccarino’s office notice it’s filled with antique toys. Vaccarino collects them. His prized possession? An original Howdy Doody doll.

FAVORITE QUOTE

“All of us are faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.” Charles R. Swindoll