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Teachers College Alumna Leaves Institution $1.6 Million for Faculty Development

Mrs. Elsie Wachtell, who died on April 9, 1994, at the age of 90, has left to the College some $1.6 million, which will be used for faculty development. The bequest is one of the largest in the history of the institution.

Member of Alumni Council Known for Attending Special Events

For the last decade of her life, Mrs. Elsie Wachtell attended almost every special event at Teachers College, Columbia University--including lectures, concerts and art exhibitions. She would often tell younger people who talked to her at these events that they should "never stop learning." As a member of the Teachers College Alumni Council, she suggested that faculty members be invited to Council meetings to share with the alumni leadership reports on their recent research.

Mrs. Wachtell, who died on April 9, 1994, at the age of 90, has left to the College some $1.6 million, which will be used for faculty development. The bequest is one of the largest in the history of the institution.

Born in Russia, Mrs. Wachtell emigrated with her family to the U.S. at the age of 10. In 1927, she joined her husband, Emanual Elston, in founding the Conservatory for Progressive Music Education, a school dedicated to applying the principles of John Dewey to the teaching of music and dance. Soon after the school's opening, Mr. Elston began to take classes at Teachers College. He earned a master's degree in 1931 and, a few years later, his wife followed his example and enrolled at the College. Years later, she remembered meeting with Dean Clarence Linton, who was supposed to help her arrange a traditional schedule leading to a bachelor's degree. "Instead, the dean said, 'Elsie, you're beyond this,' and he opened up the whole university to me." So, while studying for an undergraduate degree, she was able to take advanced classes in history, economics and even Marxist philosophy at Columbia.

She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in the Teaching of Social Studies in 1937. In the 1950's, when Mr. Elston's health began to fail, the husband-and-wife teachers closed their music school. A few years after Mr. Elston's death, his widow married Sidney D. Wachtell, who died in 1982.

At the time of her death, Mrs. Wachtell had been a member of the Alumni Council for a decade.

Teachers College, the world's largest and most diversified graduate school of education, is an affiliate of Columbia University but retains its legal and financial independence.

Published Friday, Jun. 28, 2002

Teachers College Alumna Leaves Institution $1.6 Million for Faculty Development

Member of Alumni Council Known for Attending Special Events

For the last decade of her life, Mrs. Elsie Wachtell attended almost every special event at Teachers College, Columbia University--including lectures, concerts and art exhibitions. She would often tell younger people who talked to her at these events that they should "never stop learning." As a member of the Teachers College Alumni Council, she suggested that faculty members be invited to Council meetings to share with the alumni leadership reports on their recent research.

Mrs. Wachtell, who died on April 9, 1994, at the age of 90, has left to the College some $1.6 million, which will be used for faculty development. The bequest is one of the largest in the history of the institution.

Born in Russia, Mrs. Wachtell emigrated with her family to the U.S. at the age of 10. In 1927, she joined her husband, Emanual Elston, in founding the Conservatory for Progressive Music Education, a school dedicated to applying the principles of John Dewey to the teaching of music and dance. Soon after the school's opening, Mr. Elston began to take classes at Teachers College. He earned a master's degree in 1931 and, a few years later, his wife followed his example and enrolled at the College. Years later, she remembered meeting with Dean Clarence Linton, who was supposed to help her arrange a traditional schedule leading to a bachelor's degree. "Instead, the dean said, 'Elsie, you're beyond this,' and he opened up the whole university to me." So, while studying for an undergraduate degree, she was able to take advanced classes in history, economics and even Marxist philosophy at Columbia.

She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in the Teaching of Social Studies in 1937. In the 1950's, when Mr. Elston's health began to fail, the husband-and-wife teachers closed their music school. A few years after Mr. Elston's death, his widow married Sidney D. Wachtell, who died in 1982.

At the time of her death, Mrs. Wachtell had been a member of the Alumni Council for a decade.

Teachers College, the world's largest and most diversified graduate school of education, is an affiliate of Columbia University but retains its legal and financial independence.

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