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Advancing TC's Legacy for Generations to Come

In her 2012 State of the College address, President Susan Fuhrman calls for TC to honor its past while transforming the future
Download the whole speech.

Despite a tough economic climate and the tight job market facing graduates of many other institutions, Teachers College is enjoying “a tremendous time of opportunity because of who we are, what we and where we are going,” President Susan Fuhrman told listeners at her State of the College address yesterday.

This fall the College once again welcomed an incoming class that set new records for size, selectivity and diversity, with 19 percent of students coming from 52 countries outside the United States, and with 38 percent of U.S. incoming student self-identifying as students of color. TC also is attracting more financial support, with commitments in fiscal year 2012 totaling $48.2 million – an 83 percent increase over the prior year. And just recently, the College received major new gifts from Trustees Laurie Tisch (half to fund a new center on nutrition education and policy, and half a challenge gift to other trustees to fund the college’s capital priorities); Sue Ann Weinberg (to support TC’s program in History and Education; and Marla Schaefer (to support the International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution). Another gift, from the JP Morgan Chase Foundation, will support TC’s Partnership Schools.

“As we approach the celebration of our 125th anniversary next year, this is our moment to reflect on our role as the world’s best graduate education school – and to reaffirm our goal to honor and advance TC’s legacy for generations to come,” Fuhrman said.

2012 State of the College

That legacy includes serving as the birthplace for the fields of educational psychology, urban education, gifted education, conflict resolution, arts education, nutrition education, international and comparative education and special education, and establishing an expansive model for a school of education that included courses on nutrition, nursing, psychology and other fields not traditionally associated with teacher preparation.

Fuhrman said that TC will continue to achieve firsts and launch transformative new initiatives grouped around the three “big ideas” that have been guiding its direction in recent years: learning, comprehensive opportunity in the public schools, and policy.

“Understanding how students learn, and applying those findings to instruction – inside and outside of the classroom – is central to so many initiatives across the College, from technology to teacher education,” she said.

On the technology front, Several TC faculty members have recently received major technology-related grants from the National Science Foundation, including:
  • Joey Lee, Assistant Professor of Communication, Computing and Technology in Education, to create game-like educational approaches to climate change education
  • Xiaodong Lin, Associate Professor of Technology and Education, to look at the impact of two types of technology-based motivational instruction programs on students’ performance in STEM courses
  • Ellen Meier, Associate Professor of Computing and Education, to study transformational ideas about technology in learning
  • John Black, Cleveland E. Dodge Professor of Telecommunications and Education, to create down-loadable mobile apps from the public television show “Cyberchase” to teach young children about fractions.
The College will also implement a strategic technology plan this year, building on its current status as one of the leading purveyors of online instruction among university-affiliated schools of education. To accelerate the use of technology in academic development, TC will create a coordinated support center to assist faculty in creating online instructional resources and courses. It will also seek to integrate new research on learning and technology into its course offerings, such as the new online course for teacher educators being offered by Herbert Ginsburg, Jacob H. Schiff Foundation Professor of Psychology and Education.

TC also recently recruited Ryan Baker, a psychologist at Worcester Polytechnic Institute who is Founding President of the International Educational Data Mining Society and is also Associate Editor of the Journal of Educational Data Mining, as visiting professor and Sachs Lecturer for the 2012-13 academic year.

Meanwhile, TC continues to function more generally as a hub for advancing research-based teacher preparation and practice. This past summer, Fuhrman, together with Deborah Lowenberg Ball, Dean of the School of Education at the University of Michigan and founder of a novel program called TeachingWorks, welcomed some 500 attendees to a conference at TC on how to highlight new knowledge about learning in teacher education and make that knowledge relevant for practice.

This fall TC welcomed a new cohort of returning Peace Corps volunteers as Jaffe Math and Science Fellows, some of whom will participate in a new pilot program that will lead to dual certification in bilingual or special education. The College is seeking to promote dual certification more broadly in its teacher education programs, building on its elementary and early childhood inclusive approaches and Project QUIERE, a federally funded effort at TC to prepare dually-certified teachers in both early childhood education and early childhood special education.

And also this fall, the College has begun a recruiting process for enrolling a quarter of all New York City high school social studies teachers to participate in its new Cowin Financial Literacy Project, a model effort professional development effort that promises to be replicated throughout New York and the rest of the country.

TC has made major strides in advancing comprehensive opportunity in the public schools, an idea that Fuhrman traced back to the College’s seventh President, Lawrence Cremin. This fall TC celebrated the arrival of its Teachers College Community School in a permanent home on West 126th Street and Morningside Avenue. The dedication ceremony for the new facility was attended by a cast of state and city officials that included Merryl Tisch, Chancellor of the State Board of Regents, and Dennis Walcott, Chancellor of the New York City Public Schools.

“The opening marked the realization of a dream that I’vehad since I took on the Presidency of Teachers College six years ago,” Fuhrman said.  “The big idea here is a university-assisted public school that serves children in the surrounding area, with the college as a deeply invested partner and neighbor who would develop high-quality educational programs and share responsibility for students’ educational success.”

TCCS also anchors a consortium of partner schools that TC is building across Harlem, all aimed at improving education outcomes and all focusing on excellent teaching and learning, family engagement, early childhood, expanded learning opportunities, and mental and physical health.

“As I said at the school’s opening earlier this fall: Just imagine the improvement we would see in public education if every university worked in concert with local schools and communities…. Once again, TC is leading the way to show the nation what is possible through partnerships that offer students a rich and rigorous educational experience.”

TC’s strength in policy is enabling it to amplify nationally its local efforts to build comprehensive educational equity. As just one example, Fuhrman cited the work of Michael Rebell, who is a member of the Naitonal Commission on Excellence and Equity and on New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Reform Commission. TC’s department of Education Policy and Social Analysis also hosted a major panel in September addressing the idea that policies governing life outside of the classroom can be as important as curriculum and instruction in terms of defining educational outcomes.

Fuhrman cautioned that, despite all these many new initiatives and successes, “we are not immune from the worrisome trends in higher education more generally.” Nationally, tuition is rising, graduates are having a tough time finding jobs after taking on heavy student loan debt, and many institution sare unable to keep pace with the costs of operations.

“We have managed costs well and tuition rises relatively in small amounts compared with our peers… but we should be taking advantage of all opportunities to improve how we operate all facets of the college,” she said.

To that end, Fuhrman proclaimed 2012-13 “the year of effectiveness” at TC, a time when the College will redouble its focus on “achieving and measuring outcomes that demonstrate we are the best in the field.” Working groups will be formed to consider the best ways to measure the effectiveness of the College and its programs; to determine what outcomes TC values and which program features lead to those outcomes; to understand how the College’s markets are changing and what those changes imply for different academic programs; and to figure out where students are finding jobs and what career paths they are pursuing. Other teams will benchmark other institutions, explore possibilities for improving administrative effectiveness, and look at ways to more effectively make use of the College’s physical space.

“I am in awe of the vision of our founders and early leaders who created and nurtured a great institution dedicated to innovation and agile enough not only to adapt to the time but to lead change and set the standard for all other schools of education to come,” Fuhrman concluded. “Now is our time to reinvent ourselves once again – to build on our strengths, to embrace our distinctions and to create an institution that honors the past while transforming the future. We must continue to create with confidence and optimism. One of our founders, Nicholas Murray Butler, wrote, ‘Optimism is essential to achievement and it is also the foundation of courage and true progress.’ Let us remember his wise words as we re-dedicate ourselves to advancing the TC legacy for the next 125 years.”

Published Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012


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