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State of the College 2015

On October 7th, Teachers College President Susan Fuhrman delivered her State of the College address in Cowin Auditorium, declaring that “ TC is better positioned both academically and operationally to flourish for decades to come as a leader in shaping programs and fields that contribute to a smarter, healthier and more equitable world.”

 

State of the College 2015

President Susan H. Fuhrman

 

I’m delighted to be here with you today to share my perspectives on the State of the College and I’m thrilled at the turnout.

 

At this gathering last year, I invited you to consider how Teachers College would meet the demands of a continually changing world – with new technologies, opportunities and challenges. I’m happy to report that we’ve made great progress. As the late, great Yogi Berra would say, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Because we took the fork in the road, today, TC is better positioned both academically and operationally to flourish for decades to come as a leader in shaping programs and fields that contribute to a smarter, healthier and more equitable world. 

 

I’ll talk about that progress and the work we need to do in the future but first I want to review some accomplishments. By every measure, the state of Teachers College is strong. Great faculty are advancing knowledge at an extraordinary pace; they are guiding and inspiring our very impressive students to do remarkable work; financial support of students has never been greater; and our campus in many ways looks better than ever, with new places for studying, socializing, and exploring new ideas, and building community.


 

Faculty and Program Advances

TC is a community of scholars advancing game-changing ideas on so many fronts. Let’s turn to some specifics. During the past year alone, we launched the world’s first education school degree program in Learning Analytics; we designed a certificate program in Sexuality Women and Gender; introduced Latina/Latino Mental Health Services program to prepare psychologists to play a role in integrating mental and physical healthcare; and developed a Creative Technologies concentration in arts education centered on a newly re-outfitted fabrication laboratory – our very own “fab lab.”

 

This fall, our Department of Curriculum and Teaching announced a new Doctoral Specialization for Teacher Educators with courses designed to bring greater resources and attention to professional preparation of professors of education.

 

Since 2007, we have recruited 71 new tenure-track professors, which represents more than one-third of our faculty. They are among the nation’s top scholars in education, health, psychology and leadership. The strength and range of their talent and expertise are unparalleled.

 

This fall alone, we welcomed ten new faculty members, representing a great cross section of fields – from multilingual curriculum development to understanding psychological risk factors for suicide; from adolescent literacy among marginalized populations to collective creativity mediated by digital technologies.

 

We also continue to enjoy strong funding support for faculty research. In Fiscal Year14, TC received $41.25 million in sponsored research and training funds, increasing from $34.4 million in Fiscal Year 07. And though the books officially close on Friday, preliminary Fiscal Year 15 figures indicate funding levels could exceed $44 million.

 

All of that research culminates in spectacular published work. Among the signature books this year are The Spiritual Child: The New Science of Parenting for Health and Lifelong Thriving by Lisa Miller, Professor of Psychology & Education, focusing on the culturally neglected but important need to support spiritual development –a connection to a larger universe beyond the self--in children and adolescents.

 

And in Redesigning America’s Community Colleges: A Clearer Path to Student Success, Thomas Bailey and co-authors from TC’s Community College Research Center argue that to increase student completion, community colleges must engage in fundamental redesign.

 

An April report, A Better Start: Why Class Diversity Matters in Early Education by Jeanne Reid and Professor Sharon Lynn Kagan of TC’s National Center for Children and Families, highlights racial, ethnic and economic disparities in U.S. preschools and calls for increased diversity.

 

One of the world's most prestigious weekly science journals, Nature, featured the research of three of our faculty this year. First, Professor Peter Coleman wrote about applying a mathematical tool known as dynamical systems theory to understand persistent violent conflict.

 

New Associate Professor Kim Noble co-authored a study in Nature Neuroscience showing that poverty is closely associated with deficits in brain development in young children. This work, which is drawing worldwide attention, has dramatic implications for policies to support low-income families. 

 

And a study published in Nature Climate Change by Research Professor Joey Lee and doctoral student Jason Wu, finds that digital games are effective in educating and engaging the public on climate change issues.

 

These are just a few examples from among the 241 scholarly books and articles authored or edited by our faculty this year. Faculty work is so multifaceted – thoughtful teaching and advisement of students, innovative and groundbreaking research, service to the academic community both here at TC and beyond.

 

Each year, members of our faculty are honored for their work with membership into the highest levels of national professional societies related to their fields. This year, for example, four of our faculty joined seventeen of their peers as Fellows of the American Educational Research Association; Amy Stuart Wells joined ten of her colleagues as a member of the National Academy of Education; Carol Garber was recently elected to the National Academy of Kinesiology, bringing our total of active fellows there to three. We also boast over a dozen fellows of the American Psychology Association.

 

These organizations choose our faculty members to lead them with great frequency – the National Council of Teachers of English, the American College of Sports Medicine, and the Association for the Study of Higher Education have all had TC faculty at their helm in recent years.

 

In all, nearly 50 members of our faculty – almost 30 percent – were recognized this year alone in the form of career and lifetime achievement awards and similar honors. I invite you to visit the TC homepage to see a listing of faculty honors.

 

This incredible record of peer recognition re-affirms what we already know: When it comes to excellence, innovation, and impact in the academy, TC faculty are in a class of their own.

 

Distinction of faculty has always been a TC hallmark. Good examples are the leaders we lost this past year. Each made enormous contributions to teaching and learning and leave behind great legacies.

 

Roger Myers has been described as the “consummate psychologist” by Warner Burke, a longtime friend and colleague. Many scholars make their mark on a field by championing the development of a particular line of inquiry or a particular finding,  but Roger did so by shaping  the field itself,  making counseling psychology a venue to address issues such as the reintegration of veterans, the rehabilitation of the physically disabled and guidance in schools. He was also a devoted mentor, remembered for always making time for his students.

 

Frances Connor served as Chair of what was then TC’s Department of Special Education for 23 years. Her fierce and savvy efforts laid the groundwork for today’s inclusive education movement and her passionate advocacy was instrumental in the passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 1975.

 

TC lost two leaders in Bio-behavioral Sciences and Speech Pathology. Ronald Tikofsky was a longtime Adjunct Professor and expert in aphasia and acquired language disorders. Beloved by students and colleagues, he received the Gold Medal of the American College of Nuclear Medicine.

 

Patricia McGovern Sweeting served as director of TC’s Mysak Clinic for Communication Disorders and was a valued mentor to generations of clinicians.

 

Win Adkins was a pioneering life skills educator and creator of a widely used career development program that introduced psychosocial skills as a critical area of competence. A TC Alum, Win had taught at TC for 30 years before retiring.

 

And in early September, the TC community lost Tom Sobol, one of its most cherished members. Tom was admired throughout the country for his humor, eloquence, brilliance and compassion – but he was perhaps best known for his commitment to living a just and moral life and to equipping others with the tools to do the same.  Politics is not always known for cultivating these qualities, but Tom, who served as New York State Commissioner of Education before becoming TC’s first Christian A. Johnson Professor of Outstanding Educational Practice, set a shining standard for what a public official can be.   We will hold a memorial at TC on October 24th to remember his life and work.

 

Our Students

Let me turn to our amazing students, who inspire us to continually  improve their TC experience. Last month we welcomed more than 1840 immensely talented new students, ready to start on their TC journey.   

 

Our geographic reach continues to impress – we enrolled students from 45 states, DC and Puerto Rico. We’re missing Wyoming, West Virginia, South Dakota, Montana and Idaho so let’s get on that for next year!

 

More and more students from around the globe are choosing TC. From 2006 to 2015, international student enrollment has risen from 12.7 percent to 19.5 percent. This year we welcomed students from 48 different countries with China, South Korea, India, Canada, Taiwan, Singapore and Brazil as the top nations.  

 

Our students’ satisfaction rate is high; in 2014, 91% of the graduating student survey respondents reported that they were satisfied or very satisfied with their experiences at TC. 

 

And TC graduates do well in the job market. Among 2014 graduates, almost 84% were employed within 6 months of graduation, and another 8% were pursuing another graduate degree or postdoc.

 

The diversity of our student body continues to increase. The number of U.S. students self-identifying as people of color has increased by 21 percent since 2006 to 40.7% of our student body.

 

We’re proud of our history in contributing to an academic community that looks more like America. In 1996, to address the inequities of groups in the U.S. who are historically underrepresented in the academic profession, TC established the Minority Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. It provides recent doctorate recipients the opportunity to develop a program of research and participate as an active community member in the life of a graduate research university.

 

Many of the 30 fellows who have been here over the years have gone on to become important scholars and powerful voices in their fields. We will learn all about them when we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the program in March and we encourage all of you to share that joy with us.

 

Infrastructure and Operations

Advancing new ideas requires supportive and sound operations and infrastructure. This year the College has seen a number of improvements on those fronts.

 

Technology plays an increasingly central role in making sure all TC operations run smoothly, from turning on the lights to getting our paychecks processed to ensuring classroom equipment is humming.

 

At last year’s State of the College, I introduced TC’s new Chief Information Officer Naveed Husain. Naveed has been leading the CIS team in a number of initiatives that are making technology better serve the TC community. You may have noticed that they’re rewiring the campus to improve our Internet service. There’s the improved help desk, now called the “service desk” to reflect a broader set of activities with extended hours and a new app on the “My TC” site.

 

Through this and other efforts, CIS is working to speed up response time, remove obstacles, and be more accessible and proactive. They are working closely with business liaisons from every department to find solutions. Next up, CIS and Human Resources are working together to create a unified onboarding system so that when someone starts at TC as an employee or student, everything is in place upon their arrival.  

 

Our Facilities Department has been hard at work upgrading spaces throughout the College. Every year we try to make the campus more welcoming and supportive. I hope you’ve taken the time to enjoy the refurbished Russell Courtyard and the air conditioning in the cafeteria. And Bancroft and Sarasota residence halls were beautifully renovated to better accommodate our students.

 

Another way we are better serving our students is the one-stop-shop for enrollment services that opened in June. The Office of Financial Aid joined the Office of Admission and the Registrar's Office on the third floor of Thorndike Hall. Bringing these student-driven offices together served by a common Welcome Center is helping students navigate these key processes much more seamlessly. 

 

The TC Campaign

So many of the advances we’ve made are the result of the great progress of the TC campaign. In 2013 we launched a $300 million campaign, “Where the Future Comes First”. This summer we reached the $200 million mark and today we are over $218 million – already making this the largest campaign for a graduate school of education in the country before we reach the $300 million goal.  It’s very exciting.

 

Our students remain our number one fundraising priority. To date, 100 named scholarships have been created since the start of the campaign. These scholarships allow us to continue to attract the best and brightest to TC to study critically important issues. For example, the Jennings-Davis Scholarship Fund supports students with a demonstrated commitment to LGBTQ issues and the Dr. Elizabeth Helen Lawlor and Dr. Francis Xavier Lawlor Endowed Scholarship Fund supports Science Education students.

 

Increasing financial aid has been a top priority for me as president. Since 2006, we have come close to quadrupling total institutional financial aid to students, from $7.6 million to just over $29 million in FY 2015. Our students are determined to change the world and we strive to help them do that without crushing debt. We know we have a long way to go but at least we can say we’re making progress.

 

Our campaign has surpassed its original goal of $113 million for program and faculty support. We’re so fortunate to have donors as creative and innovative as the initiatives they fund. For example, this spring the Cowin Financial Literacy Project had a national roll out of its highly successful New York City-based professional development program for teachers. This project is led by Professor Anand Marri who is currently on leave serving as Vice President and Head of Outreach and Education at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. And its guiding spirit and benefactor is TC Trustee Joyce Cowin.

 

The most recent way TC is addressing emerging problems of populations in need through multiple disciplines is our new Resilience Center for Veterans and Families. Thanks to donors David and Maureen O’Connor, the Center will pair the newest research on human and emotional resilience with clinical training of therapists to assist veterans and their families as they transition back to civilian life. Professor George Bonanno who is doing groundbreaking research on emotional resilience and recovery from trauma and loss will work in partnership with Dr. Dinelia Rosa and the College’s Dean Hope Center for Educational & Psychological Services which will recruit and prepare top students to counsel veterans and their families.

 

The Center will also support research conducted by TC doctoral students whose own military experiences have shaped their scholarly interest in resilience, PTSD and the implications of both for the military and veteran communities.

 

The campaign is helping revitalize our historic campus into 21st century learning environments. Our new, refined smart classroom – 418 Zankel – is up and running and work is about to begin on 22 additional fully modernized classrooms. Please visit two program spaces newly renovated thanks to capital support of the campaign. The Tisch Center for Food Education & Policy has a new home supported by the gift of Laurie Tisch, trustee emerita. And the International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution has re-designed space thanks to Campaign Chair Marla Schaeffer.

 

Another forward-thinking trustee and incredibly generous donor is Camilla Smith who, with her husband George, have made possible a new Learning Theatre. The fourth floor of the Gottesman Libraries is being transformed into 10,000 square feet of reconfigurable space that allows for exploration and experimentation for new ways of understanding teaching and learning.  

 

With experimentation so endemic to this College, there’s no better place than TC to house this Learning Theatre.  And we thank Camilla for being such a supportive partner throughout the planning process.

 

Alumni have been vital to this campaign. At 90,000 strong and counting, they are our best ambassadors and their preeminence in so many fields stands as a testament to TC education. This summer alumni were instrumental in the success of our Global TC Days, which included 42 events in 40 cities and brought to life the reach of TC around the world. Our alumni are living in 130 countries and we have alumni networks in 45 of thosecountries, with new networks in Manila and Singapore formed as a result of Global TC celebrations there.  

 

And a growing group of 21st Century Leaders of recent alumni is raising awareness and support for TC.  We welcome these future leaders.

 

Strengthening the TC Community

While we look to the future the campaign is helping make possible, all of these wonderful accomplishments don’t insulate us from a world full of enormous challenges. The events in Ferguson – and killings in so many other cities -- and escalating crises in many regions of the world remind us that we are in a time of enormous turmoil and upheaval.

 

But TC’s history is grounded in a social justice mission and we never give up on finding answers to seemingly intractable problems. We’re not reactive – we’re prepared because acting against injustice is part of our DNA. And so is great scholarship that leads to the possibility for long-term change.

 

So in the wake of Ferguson and all the other continued killings, the TC community of students and faculty were ready to act. Internally, we offered opportunities for dialogue. The Civic Participation Project, supported by the Provost Investment Fund, created safe spaces for the exchange of ideas being raised by the emerging Black Lives Matter agenda. I want to acknowledge Professors Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz, Lalitha Vasudevan, and Laura Smith, for their leadership here . The years of work by the Office of Diversity and Community Affairs provides a context for important contributions. And the Faculty Race, Culture, and Diversity Committee is focusing on how our curriculum addresses systemic racism, economic inequality and other central issues and provides opportunities for all of us to learn and grow together.

 

As for the contribution of our research to these difficult issues, I could cite so many examples but let me just give you two. In Critical Media Pedagogy: Teaching for Achievement in City Schools, Ernest Morrell, Macy Professor of English Education, argues that critical media education can improve academic literacy in underserved youth. He and his co-authors offer ways to leverage the experience of popular culture to help youth understand how media can degrade Black lives and help youth be better media consumers and producers.

 

In Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence: Understanding and Facilitating Difficult Dialogues on Race, Derald Wing Sue, Professor of Psychology, warns that without deep understanding of the stakes, discussion of race may trigger misunderstanding and even violence. Race Talk extends Sue’s pioneering work on the often unintended but very damaging manifestations of prejudice known as micro-aggressions.

 

Our scholarship is also informing other critical issues of pressing importance. Professor Helena Verdeli and her Global Mental Health Lab have been working to provide mental health support to populations in distress, including Syrian refugees in Jordan. And they are building on these efforts in a new project in Lebanon in collaboration with the World Health Organization and the United Nations to bring capacity for entry into that country of 1 million Syrian refugees. This summer, Professors Susan Garnett Russell and Mary Mendenhall and others from International and Comparative Education were in Africa to help teachers of displaced children in a Kenyan refugee camp through a professional development program they are also researching.

 

Health education professor Sonali Rajan’s work on gun violence is another example of work relevant to a current social crisis. Her research in PLOS ONE suggests multiple risk behaviors that are associated with gun possession among youth. She and her co-authors hope these findings will shift the rhetoric and identify possible points of intervention and reframe research priorities around gun violence. And given restrictions on and lack of dedicated funding for such research, it occurs to me that providing support for research on gun violence might be something we – as a leading research institution – might undertake as a community.

 

The Future of TC: Continuing the Strategic Innovation Agenda

Now we’re going to turn to the future.

 

At TC, we’ll continue to struggle with difficult questions. That’s what we have done throughout our history and we know it will shape our future as well. Considerations about how we are advancing innovation are informed by that history and our mission to achieve the greater good. Innovation and technology have to be in the service of these ideals.

 

But to make TC the forward-thinking institution it must be, we have to do everything we can to support moving ideas forward more quickly – to be more agile, more nimble.  And, while I know – to quote Yogi Berra again, that this may sound like déjà vu all over again to some of you, we really hope that it’s different this time! And while being agile can be a challenge in higher education, we’ve made good progress this year on that track and will continue to do so in the coming year. 

 

Since 2008, the Provost Investment Fund has provided seed funding to some 200 faculty-driven ideas. As we hoped, many of these programs attracted major external funding and some I’ve touched on today, like creative arts technologies, psychology and spirituality, and the critical Civic Participation discussions that we’re having.

 

To build on the success of the Provost Investment Fund, Provost James this summer shared a new grant opportunity that allows for even more nimble and flexible support of faculty innovation. The TC Rapid Prototyping Fund will speed up the gestation process of incubating and testing out new ideas and concepts. We look forward to great work emerging from these grants like that of Professor Amy Stuart Wells who’s building on her work in curriculum mapping and race by creating a new Summer Institute on Teaching and Learning in Racially Diverse Educational Contexts; or one led by Aurelie Athan who wants to offer a curriculum for non-degree, graduate level coursework in psychology; and an effort to further integrate programs in applied educational psychology, led by Professor Doug Greer.

  

Tom James has also pulled together a group of staff to work in support of faculty ideas – what we jokingly refer to as the SWAT team. This group comes together to listen to faculty ideas and do the legwork associated with how to bring them into fruition. This group – which includes Vice Provost for Digital Learning Steve Goss working primarily on the digital front, Academic Planning Fellow Amy Deiner on novel approaches to programming, and Debi Slatkin using her deep expertise in academic budgeting as well as others from across the college on an as-needed basis – will support the strategic development of new programs at TC.

 

The faculty is also of course centrally involved in this work. Over the summer, the FEC worked with Tom to spell out nine areas where policies and processes may need to be rethought. Examples are the conditions under which non-credit courses might contribute to degree credit and guidelines for variable pricing of programs. They will consider the best approaches to these issues, with an aim of increasing agility while continuing to ensure the quality of everything we do here.

 

Of course, program innovation is integrally tied to digital matters and we’re actively expanding our use of technology in teaching and learning and looking at how to meet the needs of our students, staff, and faculty.

 

I mentioned a new prototype classroom – one that takes all the feedback that our faculty, staff, and students reported about 438 Horace Mann over the last two years, and makes it far more affordable and thus scalable to the rest of the campus. We’re also working to test and make available a greater range of course management systems in an effort to give all classes – whether here on campus, or delivered online – options and adequate support.

 

And we’re building new systems to help us all act on data more strategically. We’ve been integrating our various back-end systems into a more usable data warehouse that will allow us to access and use data more thoughtfully. And we’ve been piloting a degree audit system that will allow faculty and the registrar to more effectively understand students’ pathways through their programs.

 

All of this work is centrally supported by our Board and, in particular by a group of Trustees who serve on the year-old Strategic Innovation Committee. Together with these board members, Tom and I stand ready to support the College in moving forward in creative, agile, and incredible ways.

 

Closing

I want to leave you with an optimistic view of the days, months and years ahead. We’re at an exciting moment in our history and -- thanks to a great history and an amazing TC community -- we will continue to provide the leadership needed to address the most serious problems the world faces.

 

I look forward to working together through the Spring, 2018 to lay the groundwork for how we will better meet these challenges.

 

With so much of the world facing severe trials, Teachers College must remain strong and persevere in its mission. A recent New York Times article reported on a discovery in South Africa of a species having lived millions of years earlier than it was previously believed that any species had lived. The team leader said that practitioners in the field had assumed they were done with this work - that there were no more major discoveries to be had. “What discovering the new species tells us”, he concluded, “is that there is no substitute for exploration”.

 

There is no substitute for exploration and no more exciting and innovative a place to continue that exploration than Teachers College. I look forward to continue to make great discoveries together!

Published Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015

State of the College 2015

On October 7th, Teachers College President Susan Fuhrman delivered her State of the College address in Cowin Auditorium, declaring that “ TC is better positioned both academically and operationally to flourish for decades to come as a leader in shaping programs and fields that contribute to a smarter, healthier and more equitable world.”

 

State of the College 2015

President Susan H. Fuhrman

 

I’m delighted to be here with you today to share my perspectives on the State of the College and I’m thrilled at the turnout.

 

At this gathering last year, I invited you to consider how Teachers College would meet the demands of a continually changing world – with new technologies, opportunities and challenges. I’m happy to report that we’ve made great progress. As the late, great Yogi Berra would say, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Because we took the fork in the road, today, TC is better positioned both academically and operationally to flourish for decades to come as a leader in shaping programs and fields that contribute to a smarter, healthier and more equitable world. 

 

I’ll talk about that progress and the work we need to do in the future but first I want to review some accomplishments. By every measure, the state of Teachers College is strong. Great faculty are advancing knowledge at an extraordinary pace; they are guiding and inspiring our very impressive students to do remarkable work; financial support of students has never been greater; and our campus in many ways looks better than ever, with new places for studying, socializing, and exploring new ideas, and building community.


 

Faculty and Program Advances

TC is a community of scholars advancing game-changing ideas on so many fronts. Let’s turn to some specifics. During the past year alone, we launched the world’s first education school degree program in Learning Analytics; we designed a certificate program in Sexuality Women and Gender; introduced Latina/Latino Mental Health Services program to prepare psychologists to play a role in integrating mental and physical healthcare; and developed a Creative Technologies concentration in arts education centered on a newly re-outfitted fabrication laboratory – our very own “fab lab.”

 

This fall, our Department of Curriculum and Teaching announced a new Doctoral Specialization for Teacher Educators with courses designed to bring greater resources and attention to professional preparation of professors of education.

 

Since 2007, we have recruited 71 new tenure-track professors, which represents more than one-third of our faculty. They are among the nation’s top scholars in education, health, psychology and leadership. The strength and range of their talent and expertise are unparalleled.

 

This fall alone, we welcomed ten new faculty members, representing a great cross section of fields – from multilingual curriculum development to understanding psychological risk factors for suicide; from adolescent literacy among marginalized populations to collective creativity mediated by digital technologies.

 

We also continue to enjoy strong funding support for faculty research. In Fiscal Year14, TC received $41.25 million in sponsored research and training funds, increasing from $34.4 million in Fiscal Year 07. And though the books officially close on Friday, preliminary Fiscal Year 15 figures indicate funding levels could exceed $44 million.

 

All of that research culminates in spectacular published work. Among the signature books this year are The Spiritual Child: The New Science of Parenting for Health and Lifelong Thriving by Lisa Miller, Professor of Psychology & Education, focusing on the culturally neglected but important need to support spiritual development –a connection to a larger universe beyond the self--in children and adolescents.

 

And in Redesigning America’s Community Colleges: A Clearer Path to Student Success, Thomas Bailey and co-authors from TC’s Community College Research Center argue that to increase student completion, community colleges must engage in fundamental redesign.

 

An April report, A Better Start: Why Class Diversity Matters in Early Education by Jeanne Reid and Professor Sharon Lynn Kagan of TC’s National Center for Children and Families, highlights racial, ethnic and economic disparities in U.S. preschools and calls for increased diversity.

 

One of the world's most prestigious weekly science journals, Nature, featured the research of three of our faculty this year. First, Professor Peter Coleman wrote about applying a mathematical tool known as dynamical systems theory to understand persistent violent conflict.

 

New Associate Professor Kim Noble co-authored a study in Nature Neuroscience showing that poverty is closely associated with deficits in brain development in young children. This work, which is drawing worldwide attention, has dramatic implications for policies to support low-income families. 

 

And a study published in Nature Climate Change by Research Professor Joey Lee and doctoral student Jason Wu, finds that digital games are effective in educating and engaging the public on climate change issues.

 

These are just a few examples from among the 241 scholarly books and articles authored or edited by our faculty this year. Faculty work is so multifaceted – thoughtful teaching and advisement of students, innovative and groundbreaking research, service to the academic community both here at TC and beyond.

 

Each year, members of our faculty are honored for their work with membership into the highest levels of national professional societies related to their fields. This year, for example, four of our faculty joined seventeen of their peers as Fellows of the American Educational Research Association; Amy Stuart Wells joined ten of her colleagues as a member of the National Academy of Education; Carol Garber was recently elected to the National Academy of Kinesiology, bringing our total of active fellows there to three. We also boast over a dozen fellows of the American Psychology Association.

 

These organizations choose our faculty members to lead them with great frequency – the National Council of Teachers of English, the American College of Sports Medicine, and the Association for the Study of Higher Education have all had TC faculty at their helm in recent years.

 

In all, nearly 50 members of our faculty – almost 30 percent – were recognized this year alone in the form of career and lifetime achievement awards and similar honors. I invite you to visit the TC homepage to see a listing of faculty honors.

 

This incredible record of peer recognition re-affirms what we already know: When it comes to excellence, innovation, and impact in the academy, TC faculty are in a class of their own.

 

Distinction of faculty has always been a TC hallmark. Good examples are the leaders we lost this past year. Each made enormous contributions to teaching and learning and leave behind great legacies.

 

Roger Myers has been described as the “consummate psychologist” by Warner Burke, a longtime friend and colleague. Many scholars make their mark on a field by championing the development of a particular line of inquiry or a particular finding,  but Roger did so by shaping  the field itself,  making counseling psychology a venue to address issues such as the reintegration of veterans, the rehabilitation of the physically disabled and guidance in schools. He was also a devoted mentor, remembered for always making time for his students.

 

Frances Connor served as Chair of what was then TC’s Department of Special Education for 23 years. Her fierce and savvy efforts laid the groundwork for today’s inclusive education movement and her passionate advocacy was instrumental in the passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 1975.

 

TC lost two leaders in Bio-behavioral Sciences and Speech Pathology. Ronald Tikofsky was a longtime Adjunct Professor and expert in aphasia and acquired language disorders. Beloved by students and colleagues, he received the Gold Medal of the American College of Nuclear Medicine.

 

Patricia McGovern Sweeting served as director of TC’s Mysak Clinic for Communication Disorders and was a valued mentor to generations of clinicians.

 

Win Adkins was a pioneering life skills educator and creator of a widely used career development program that introduced psychosocial skills as a critical area of competence. A TC Alum, Win had taught at TC for 30 years before retiring.

 

And in early September, the TC community lost Tom Sobol, one of its most cherished members. Tom was admired throughout the country for his humor, eloquence, brilliance and compassion – but he was perhaps best known for his commitment to living a just and moral life and to equipping others with the tools to do the same.  Politics is not always known for cultivating these qualities, but Tom, who served as New York State Commissioner of Education before becoming TC’s first Christian A. Johnson Professor of Outstanding Educational Practice, set a shining standard for what a public official can be.   We will hold a memorial at TC on October 24th to remember his life and work.

 

Our Students

Let me turn to our amazing students, who inspire us to continually  improve their TC experience. Last month we welcomed more than 1840 immensely talented new students, ready to start on their TC journey.   

 

Our geographic reach continues to impress – we enrolled students from 45 states, DC and Puerto Rico. We’re missing Wyoming, West Virginia, South Dakota, Montana and Idaho so let’s get on that for next year!

 

More and more students from around the globe are choosing TC. From 2006 to 2015, international student enrollment has risen from 12.7 percent to 19.5 percent. This year we welcomed students from 48 different countries with China, South Korea, India, Canada, Taiwan, Singapore and Brazil as the top nations.  

 

Our students’ satisfaction rate is high; in 2014, 91% of the graduating student survey respondents reported that they were satisfied or very satisfied with their experiences at TC. 

 

And TC graduates do well in the job market. Among 2014 graduates, almost 84% were employed within 6 months of graduation, and another 8% were pursuing another graduate degree or postdoc.

 

The diversity of our student body continues to increase. The number of U.S. students self-identifying as people of color has increased by 21 percent since 2006 to 40.7% of our student body.

 

We’re proud of our history in contributing to an academic community that looks more like America. In 1996, to address the inequities of groups in the U.S. who are historically underrepresented in the academic profession, TC established the Minority Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. It provides recent doctorate recipients the opportunity to develop a program of research and participate as an active community member in the life of a graduate research university.

 

Many of the 30 fellows who have been here over the years have gone on to become important scholars and powerful voices in their fields. We will learn all about them when we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the program in March and we encourage all of you to share that joy with us.

 

Infrastructure and Operations

Advancing new ideas requires supportive and sound operations and infrastructure. This year the College has seen a number of improvements on those fronts.

 

Technology plays an increasingly central role in making sure all TC operations run smoothly, from turning on the lights to getting our paychecks processed to ensuring classroom equipment is humming.

 

At last year’s State of the College, I introduced TC’s new Chief Information Officer Naveed Husain. Naveed has been leading the CIS team in a number of initiatives that are making technology better serve the TC community. You may have noticed that they’re rewiring the campus to improve our Internet service. There’s the improved help desk, now called the “service desk” to reflect a broader set of activities with extended hours and a new app on the “My TC” site.

 

Through this and other efforts, CIS is working to speed up response time, remove obstacles, and be more accessible and proactive. They are working closely with business liaisons from every department to find solutions. Next up, CIS and Human Resources are working together to create a unified onboarding system so that when someone starts at TC as an employee or student, everything is in place upon their arrival.  

 

Our Facilities Department has been hard at work upgrading spaces throughout the College. Every year we try to make the campus more welcoming and supportive. I hope you’ve taken the time to enjoy the refurbished Russell Courtyard and the air conditioning in the cafeteria. And Bancroft and Sarasota residence halls were beautifully renovated to better accommodate our students.

 

Another way we are better serving our students is the one-stop-shop for enrollment services that opened in June. The Office of Financial Aid joined the Office of Admission and the Registrar's Office on the third floor of Thorndike Hall. Bringing these student-driven offices together served by a common Welcome Center is helping students navigate these key processes much more seamlessly. 

 

The TC Campaign

So many of the advances we’ve made are the result of the great progress of the TC campaign. In 2013 we launched a $300 million campaign, “Where the Future Comes First”. This summer we reached the $200 million mark and today we are over $218 million – already making this the largest campaign for a graduate school of education in the country before we reach the $300 million goal.  It’s very exciting.

 

Our students remain our number one fundraising priority. To date, 100 named scholarships have been created since the start of the campaign. These scholarships allow us to continue to attract the best and brightest to TC to study critically important issues. For example, the Jennings-Davis Scholarship Fund supports students with a demonstrated commitment to LGBTQ issues and the Dr. Elizabeth Helen Lawlor and Dr. Francis Xavier Lawlor Endowed Scholarship Fund supports Science Education students.

 

Increasing financial aid has been a top priority for me as president. Since 2006, we have come close to quadrupling total institutional financial aid to students, from $7.6 million to just over $29 million in FY 2015. Our students are determined to change the world and we strive to help them do that without crushing debt. We know we have a long way to go but at least we can say we’re making progress.

 

Our campaign has surpassed its original goal of $113 million for program and faculty support. We’re so fortunate to have donors as creative and innovative as the initiatives they fund. For example, this spring the Cowin Financial Literacy Project had a national roll out of its highly successful New York City-based professional development program for teachers. This project is led by Professor Anand Marri who is currently on leave serving as Vice President and Head of Outreach and Education at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. And its guiding spirit and benefactor is TC Trustee Joyce Cowin.

 

The most recent way TC is addressing emerging problems of populations in need through multiple disciplines is our new Resilience Center for Veterans and Families. Thanks to donors David and Maureen O’Connor, the Center will pair the newest research on human and emotional resilience with clinical training of therapists to assist veterans and their families as they transition back to civilian life. Professor George Bonanno who is doing groundbreaking research on emotional resilience and recovery from trauma and loss will work in partnership with Dr. Dinelia Rosa and the College’s Dean Hope Center for Educational & Psychological Services which will recruit and prepare top students to counsel veterans and their families.

 

The Center will also support research conducted by TC doctoral students whose own military experiences have shaped their scholarly interest in resilience, PTSD and the implications of both for the military and veteran communities.

 

The campaign is helping revitalize our historic campus into 21st century learning environments. Our new, refined smart classroom – 418 Zankel – is up and running and work is about to begin on 22 additional fully modernized classrooms. Please visit two program spaces newly renovated thanks to capital support of the campaign. The Tisch Center for Food Education & Policy has a new home supported by the gift of Laurie Tisch, trustee emerita. And the International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution has re-designed space thanks to Campaign Chair Marla Schaeffer.

 

Another forward-thinking trustee and incredibly generous donor is Camilla Smith who, with her husband George, have made possible a new Learning Theatre. The fourth floor of the Gottesman Libraries is being transformed into 10,000 square feet of reconfigurable space that allows for exploration and experimentation for new ways of understanding teaching and learning.  

 

With experimentation so endemic to this College, there’s no better place than TC to house this Learning Theatre.  And we thank Camilla for being such a supportive partner throughout the planning process.

 

Alumni have been vital to this campaign. At 90,000 strong and counting, they are our best ambassadors and their preeminence in so many fields stands as a testament to TC education. This summer alumni were instrumental in the success of our Global TC Days, which included 42 events in 40 cities and brought to life the reach of TC around the world. Our alumni are living in 130 countries and we have alumni networks in 45 of thosecountries, with new networks in Manila and Singapore formed as a result of Global TC celebrations there.  

 

And a growing group of 21st Century Leaders of recent alumni is raising awareness and support for TC.  We welcome these future leaders.

 

Strengthening the TC Community

While we look to the future the campaign is helping make possible, all of these wonderful accomplishments don’t insulate us from a world full of enormous challenges. The events in Ferguson – and killings in so many other cities -- and escalating crises in many regions of the world remind us that we are in a time of enormous turmoil and upheaval.

 

But TC’s history is grounded in a social justice mission and we never give up on finding answers to seemingly intractable problems. We’re not reactive – we’re prepared because acting against injustice is part of our DNA. And so is great scholarship that leads to the possibility for long-term change.

 

So in the wake of Ferguson and all the other continued killings, the TC community of students and faculty were ready to act. Internally, we offered opportunities for dialogue. The Civic Participation Project, supported by the Provost Investment Fund, created safe spaces for the exchange of ideas being raised by the emerging Black Lives Matter agenda. I want to acknowledge Professors Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz, Lalitha Vasudevan, and Laura Smith, for their leadership here . The years of work by the Office of Diversity and Community Affairs provides a context for important contributions. And the Faculty Race, Culture, and Diversity Committee is focusing on how our curriculum addresses systemic racism, economic inequality and other central issues and provides opportunities for all of us to learn and grow together.

 

As for the contribution of our research to these difficult issues, I could cite so many examples but let me just give you two. In Critical Media Pedagogy: Teaching for Achievement in City Schools, Ernest Morrell, Macy Professor of English Education, argues that critical media education can improve academic literacy in underserved youth. He and his co-authors offer ways to leverage the experience of popular culture to help youth understand how media can degrade Black lives and help youth be better media consumers and producers.

 

In Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence: Understanding and Facilitating Difficult Dialogues on Race, Derald Wing Sue, Professor of Psychology, warns that without deep understanding of the stakes, discussion of race may trigger misunderstanding and even violence. Race Talk extends Sue’s pioneering work on the often unintended but very damaging manifestations of prejudice known as micro-aggressions.

 

Our scholarship is also informing other critical issues of pressing importance. Professor Helena Verdeli and her Global Mental Health Lab have been working to provide mental health support to populations in distress, including Syrian refugees in Jordan. And they are building on these efforts in a new project in Lebanon in collaboration with the World Health Organization and the United Nations to bring capacity for entry into that country of 1 million Syrian refugees. This summer, Professors Susan Garnett Russell and Mary Mendenhall and others from International and Comparative Education were in Africa to help teachers of displaced children in a Kenyan refugee camp through a professional development program they are also researching.

 

Health education professor Sonali Rajan’s work on gun violence is another example of work relevant to a current social crisis. Her research in PLOS ONE suggests multiple risk behaviors that are associated with gun possession among youth. She and her co-authors hope these findings will shift the rhetoric and identify possible points of intervention and reframe research priorities around gun violence. And given restrictions on and lack of dedicated funding for such research, it occurs to me that providing support for research on gun violence might be something we – as a leading research institution – might undertake as a community.

 

The Future of TC: Continuing the Strategic Innovation Agenda

Now we’re going to turn to the future.

 

At TC, we’ll continue to struggle with difficult questions. That’s what we have done throughout our history and we know it will shape our future as well. Considerations about how we are advancing innovation are informed by that history and our mission to achieve the greater good. Innovation and technology have to be in the service of these ideals.

 

But to make TC the forward-thinking institution it must be, we have to do everything we can to support moving ideas forward more quickly – to be more agile, more nimble.  And, while I know – to quote Yogi Berra again, that this may sound like déjà vu all over again to some of you, we really hope that it’s different this time! And while being agile can be a challenge in higher education, we’ve made good progress this year on that track and will continue to do so in the coming year. 

 

Since 2008, the Provost Investment Fund has provided seed funding to some 200 faculty-driven ideas. As we hoped, many of these programs attracted major external funding and some I’ve touched on today, like creative arts technologies, psychology and spirituality, and the critical Civic Participation discussions that we’re having.

 

To build on the success of the Provost Investment Fund, Provost James this summer shared a new grant opportunity that allows for even more nimble and flexible support of faculty innovation. The TC Rapid Prototyping Fund will speed up the gestation process of incubating and testing out new ideas and concepts. We look forward to great work emerging from these grants like that of Professor Amy Stuart Wells who’s building on her work in curriculum mapping and race by creating a new Summer Institute on Teaching and Learning in Racially Diverse Educational Contexts; or one led by Aurelie Athan who wants to offer a curriculum for non-degree, graduate level coursework in psychology; and an effort to further integrate programs in applied educational psychology, led by Professor Doug Greer.

  

Tom James has also pulled together a group of staff to work in support of faculty ideas – what we jokingly refer to as the SWAT team. This group comes together to listen to faculty ideas and do the legwork associated with how to bring them into fruition. This group – which includes Vice Provost for Digital Learning Steve Goss working primarily on the digital front, Academic Planning Fellow Amy Deiner on novel approaches to programming, and Debi Slatkin using her deep expertise in academic budgeting as well as others from across the college on an as-needed basis – will support the strategic development of new programs at TC.

 

The faculty is also of course centrally involved in this work. Over the summer, the FEC worked with Tom to spell out nine areas where policies and processes may need to be rethought. Examples are the conditions under which non-credit courses might contribute to degree credit and guidelines for variable pricing of programs. They will consider the best approaches to these issues, with an aim of increasing agility while continuing to ensure the quality of everything we do here.

 

Of course, program innovation is integrally tied to digital matters and we’re actively expanding our use of technology in teaching and learning and looking at how to meet the needs of our students, staff, and faculty.

 

I mentioned a new prototype classroom – one that takes all the feedback that our faculty, staff, and students reported about 438 Horace Mann over the last two years, and makes it far more affordable and thus scalable to the rest of the campus. We’re also working to test and make available a greater range of course management systems in an effort to give all classes – whether here on campus, or delivered online – options and adequate support.

 

And we’re building new systems to help us all act on data more strategically. We’ve been integrating our various back-end systems into a more usable data warehouse that will allow us to access and use data more thoughtfully. And we’ve been piloting a degree audit system that will allow faculty and the registrar to more effectively understand students’ pathways through their programs.

 

All of this work is centrally supported by our Board and, in particular by a group of Trustees who serve on the year-old Strategic Innovation Committee. Together with these board members, Tom and I stand ready to support the College in moving forward in creative, agile, and incredible ways.

 

Closing

I want to leave you with an optimistic view of the days, months and years ahead. We’re at an exciting moment in our history and -- thanks to a great history and an amazing TC community -- we will continue to provide the leadership needed to address the most serious problems the world faces.

 

I look forward to working together through the Spring, 2018 to lay the groundwork for how we will better meet these challenges.

 

With so much of the world facing severe trials, Teachers College must remain strong and persevere in its mission. A recent New York Times article reported on a discovery in South Africa of a species having lived millions of years earlier than it was previously believed that any species had lived. The team leader said that practitioners in the field had assumed they were done with this work - that there were no more major discoveries to be had. “What discovering the new species tells us”, he concluded, “is that there is no substitute for exploration”.

 

There is no substitute for exploration and no more exciting and innovative a place to continue that exploration than Teachers College. I look forward to continue to make great discoveries together!

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