Giving Their Regards to TC Way
By Joe Levine
Never mind the marching band, the double-decker bus full of VIPs, the mayoral proclamation or the converging crowds of TC students from the 2013 incoming class.
The real showstopper on Tuesday morning, Sept. 3 – the first day of the new semester – was the broad, seamless expanse of gleaming black tar that stretched from Amsterdam Ave. to Broadway and from the sidewalk in front of TC’s Zankel Hall to Columbia’s north gate.
No potholes. No cracks. No two-inch-thick metal plates that bang up and down with each passing car.
The city had repaved the street – and permanently co-named it “Teachers College Way.”
“Today is the high point in our 125th anniversary celebration year,” TC President Susan Fuhrman said from atop the bus in front of Zankel Hall. “The new sign co-naming our street says it all: Teachers College Way. So many big thinkers and doers have walked this street, and we all walk in their footsteps. And now we’re all working together with our neighbors toward a brighter future. And that really is the TC way.”
The celebration began with the sound of drumbeats in the distance as The New York Stars Twirling and Marching Band decked out in their blue-and-white uniforms burst into view at the corner of 120th and Broadway. Behind them were students from the newest TC class streaming up Broadway from orientation at Lerner Hall on the Columbia campus. As the students gathered with faculty, staff, alumni and neighbors, a red double-decker New York City tour bus cruised to a stop in front of the crowd.
“Look at all our amazing students,” said Tom Rock, Executive Director of Enrollment Services and master of ceremonies for the morning’s events. “We are taking over 120th Street, and you’re here to help us do it. It was exactly 125 years ago this week that we welcomed our first class, 18 members strong. Now we’re welcoming our 125th class, 1,800 strong.”
Fuhrman and Rock were joined on the bus by faculty representatives from each TC department, as well as the College’s current longest-serving faculty member (Lambros Comitas, Gardner Cowles Professor of Anthropology and Education); the longest serving staff members (TC Ombudsman Erwin Flaxman and Diane Katanik, Director of Academic Administration in the Department of Human Development) and union representatives (Linda Wooten, Andrew White and Wavely Cannady) the new TC Student Senate President, Bobby Cox; New York City Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs; District 9 City Councilwoman Inez Dickens; and William Rueckert, Co-Chair of TC’s Board of Trustees.
Gibbs put the legacy of TC into historical perspective. “New York City had not yet incorporated as a city of five boroughs when Teachers College was founded – so you’ve been leading for a long time,” she said. Gibbs presented a formal proclamation signed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and saluted the College for “a broad-based focus on education” that encompasses “wellness and health and the well-being of communities and individuals.”
“Teachers College is the premiere institution for education and learning,” Gibbs said. “Congratulations and here’s to another 125 years.”
Rueckert, the great-great nephew of TC’s founder, Grace Hoadley Dodge, called the College’s 125th anniversary “a celebration not only of TC’s success, but also of the vision and generosity of its founders.”
“Grace and others recognized that education was the path to a better life for immigrant families, especially young women,” Rueckert said. “If she were here today, she’d be proud to see that her vision has been surpassed in every possible way.”
Then came a drumroll and a countdown led by Rock. On “one,” a white drape fell from the lamp post in front of the College, revealing a new sign proclaiming “Teachers College Way.” “Celebration” by Kool & the Gang played as the crowd waved their orange and blue pompoms.
“We’re taking over the street,” Rock said. “Have a great semester everyone!”
Check out the Columbia Spectator’s story about Teachers College Way.
A time lapse video of the event: