A Stage to Celebrate Their Accomplishments
“TC Academic Festival showcases the wonderful ideas and creativity of our faculty, students and trustees,” said President Susan Fuhrman, but most of all “it gives a stage to celebrate the accomplishments of our 90,000 alumni who make the world a better place.”
With that introduction, Fuhrman kicked off the annual alumni awards luncheon at Academic Festival, held in the Grace Dodge Dining Hall.
This year’s awardees, introduced by Alumni Council President Adam Vane (and selected by the Council’s Awards Committee, headed by Diana Newman and Mitchell Thompson), were:
Jody Gottfried Arnhold (M.A. ’73). “Name a dance-related initiative and chances are Arnhold is involved in it,” Dance Teacher Magazine has written of Arnhold, who is Founding Director of the 92nd Street Y’s Dance Education Laboratory, Chairman of the Board of Ballet Hispanico, and former co-chair of the committee to draft the New York City Department of Education Curriculum Blueprint for Teaching & Learning in Dance. Arnhold, who was introduced by Provost Tom James, thanked TC for serving “as a bridge to my life’s work” and to her mission to install “a quality dance educator” in every public school in New York City. She called on the College, which was the birthplace of the field of dance education, to “again cast a stone in the water that forever creates a ripple effect” by reinstating its dance education program.
Susan Jay Spungin (Ed.D. ’75). “If standards define a field, your legacy will be both timeless and borderless,” former TC Professor Ann Boehm told Spungin, who spent decades working in various capacities with the American Foundation for the Blind. During those years, Spungin, now founding President of Blind Biz, established competency-based curricula for universities in the United States; created parameters for training teachers to work with blind and low-vision children; set guidelines for public schools after the passage of the mainstreaming legislation of 1975; and helped formalize the work of state vision consultants, instructional material centers for the blind, preschool programs for early childhood education for the blind, and public school psychologists. She also consulted on the teaching of Braille in nations ranging from Bulgaria to New Zealand, and helped found the National Association for Parents of Children with Visual Impairments (NAPVI), an international membership organization serving families in some 55 countries.
Spungin, who is not blind or vision impaired, recounted how, as a music master’s degree student at San Francisco State College, she began studying Braille musical notation simply because students were urged to explore nonperforming careers that could “put bread on the table.”
“I had no blind relatives or friends to set me on this path – just my love of codes, whether music notes or Braille,” she recounted. “I’ve been blessed with a life’s journey that’s given me more than I ever dreamed of our could ever give back.”
Chong Yang Kim (Ed.D. ’83). “You once observed that Korean cooking employs the concept of yin and yang to arrive at a nutritionally balanced and delicious meal,” Lalitha Vasudevan, Associate Professor of Technology and Education, told Chong, who is Chairman of the Board of South Korea’s Hanyang University Foundation. “As an educator and administrator, you have likewise balanced multiple interests to repeatedly create endeavors that are greater than the sum of their parts.” Chong, who served Hanyang University’s president from 1993 to 2011, created both a curriculum that balanced liberal arts, technology and sports and an exceptional partnership between academic researchers and industry. His establishment of the ERICA campus in Ansan turned an underperforming industrial zone into a thriving technology hub that achieved some $6.6 billion in technology transfers. Chong also served as both Vice Chairman of the Korean Olympic Committee and President of the Korean University Sports Board.
“I still believe in John Dewey’s philosophy that education is the fundamental method of social progress and reform,” Chong said. “I took a 14-hour flight only for this event because this is the most wonderful honor I’ve ever received in my whole life and career. I will endeavor to continue to live up to it.”
Bobby Susser (M.A. ’87). “Bobby Susser, they say rock ‘n roll is for the young at heart. In light of your work, we hereby amend that to include the very young at heart as well,” declared TC Professor Emeritus Robbie McClintock in presenting the world-famous children’s songwriter with his award. Praising Susser for “embracing a role that combined the skills of educator, composer and performer,” McClintock recounted a career that has included writing and producing adult songs for Sharon Redd, Lily Fields, Mamie Lee, Morgana King, Robert John and Trini Lopez, but which found its true direction in 1971 after Susser wrote the anti-drug novelty song, "Once You Understand," which sold 1.4 million records in the United States, reached the Top 5 in England and Germany, and has since been sampled by hip-hop artists such as Biz Markie, Acen, 4 Hero and De La Soul. Susser has since recorded 25 albums aimed at the younger set, including “Bikewell Bear and St. Jude,” an anthem for the world-renowned St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
“I’d write for rock, country, rhythm and blues – but children’s songs were really my purpose,” Susser said. “Those songs were coming from a deeper place. They were entertaining, but also teaching something. I learned that from my teachers here, and then I saw it myself.”
Sarah Bolson Barnett (M.A. ’09). “This year, as Teachers College celebrates its 125th anniversary, we are particularly mindful of the vital role played by enduring New York City cultural institutions and those who steward their fortunes during these economically challenging times,” Martin Vinik, TC Adjunct Professor of Arts Administration, told his former student, who was receiving TC’s Early Career Award. “Your own exemplary efforts in service to the New York Botanical Garden bear testament to the combined power of a broad-based liberal arts background, a formal grounding in arts administration, and plain, unvarnished innovative thinking.”
As a student at TC, Barnett served as the Special English Coordinator for the International Symposium on Georgian art, conducted with administrators from the Republic of Georgia. After graduating, she worked in development for Playwrights Horizons Theatre, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, a cultural redevelopment project in Canada, and the New York City Office of Parks and Recreation before signing on with The New York Botanical Garden. There she has risen rapidly to become Associate Vice President for Foundation Relations, a role in which she is responsible for raising more than $4 million a year.
“The arts administrating at TC made a profound impact on my life,” Barnett said. “I’m only one of many recent graduates working to make sure that arts organizations continue to thrive. I accept this award on behalf of them all.”
Sreyashi Jhumki Basu (Ph.D. ’06). In the day’s most poignant moment TC presented a second Early Career Award to the parents of the late science educator, who died of breast cancer at age 31 in 2008.
“In your own words, your educational mission was premised on the belief that ‘a diversity of youth should gain expertise in scientific knowledge and learn to think logically, investigate original questions and innovate in ways that fulfill needs in their lives, community and world,’” said Christopher Emdin, Assistant Professor of Science Education, in reading Basu’s citation. “Jhumki, you lived by those words and fulfilled that commitment at every stage of your career. Today, then, rather than mourning a life cut tragically short by illness, we honor an astounding record of achievement somehow enacted in 31 short years.”
As an undergraduate at Stanford, Basu interviewed homeless children on the streets of Moscow and St. Petersburg for a thesis titled "Targeting Children in Crisis: The Health of Street Children in Urban, Post-Communist Russia." She presented the work, which specifically highlighted the issue of educational access, to UNICEF in Geneva. After graduating, she co-founded Discover, a summer math and science program for under-privileged teen-aged girls in Palo Alto. Through Physics on the Move, she also developed a physics curriculum for high schools in the Gauteng Province of South Africa.
Basu subsequently moved to New York City, where she earned her TC doctorate in 2006, joined the faculty of NYU, and helped found the School for Democratic Leadership, where she received a research fellowship from the Knowles Foundation to help new science teachers interpret and enact democratic science pedagogy. Her parents have since created the Jhumki Basu Foundation, which promotes equity in science education through grants to science teachers, awards scholarships to children in urban school districts and brings together teachers to share ideas and best practices.
“There is so much left to do,’ are some of the words that our daughter shared with us in that very sprightly way of hers on the day before she died,” said Basu’s mother, Radha Ramaswami Basu, who co-directs the Jhumki Basu Foundation along with Basu’s father, Dipak Basu, and Emdin. “On behalf of our fun-loving, irreverent daughter, we’re deeply grateful to TC for this award, and I know she’s cheering for her kids.”Published on 4/22/2013