Richard Mills | Mini Moments With Big Thinkers

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Mini Moments With Big Thinkers

Mini Moments With Big Thinkers

Richard Mills

Richard Mills began his career as a history teacher at the Dalton School in New York City and helped found the Elizabeth Seeger School in 1971. He pursued an MBA at Columbia Business School, graduating in 1975 before pursing his doctorate at Teachers College.  

Mills worked  for the New Jersey Department of Education in the mid-1970s  and was named to serve as special assistant on education to Governor Thomas Kean in 1984. In 1988, Governor Madeleine M. Kunin selected him to serve as Commissioner of Education for Vermont, a post he held for seven years.

In 1995, under Governor George Pataki, Mills began his 13-year tenure as New York State's Commissioner of Education, succeeding TC alumnus Thomas Sobol.  During that time, he emerged as a leader of the national movement to promote standards through testing. He focused on accountability because, in his own words, “It’s not fair to graduate children without the knowledge and skills to make it in the world—we are setting them up for failure.” Under his leadership, New York's districts were for the first time held accountable for student performance on state achievement tests; the Regents diploma became standard; and the state allocated more money for New York City and other high-needs districts. When Mills stepped down in 2009, New York had significantly raised its high school graduation rates. He was succeeded by TC alumnus John King.

Mills received TC's Medal for Distinguished Service in June 2010.

To learn more about Richard Mills, read:

Learn more about TC's programs in education leadership, Learn more about the College's Department of Organization and Leadership and its programs in education leadership -- including  the Urban Education Leaders Program to prepare superintendents. 


Premiered on 12/8/2013


In "Mini Moments with Big Thinkers," leading figures in Teachers College's history discuss groundbreaking ideas, research and initiatives born at the College during the past half-century. The Mini Moments are drawn from the College’s Oral History Project, a collection of more than 90 videotaped interviews conducted by Melanie Shorin and Jessica Wiederhorn, the principals of The Narrative Trust, a private firm that conducts and captures the oral histories of institutions, communities and individuals. Produced in conjunction with TC’s Department of Development and External Affairs, the Mini-Moments are airing throughout 2013.

More Big Thinkers

Nahas Angula

Ed.M., 1979; M.A., 1978

Leonard Blackman

Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Education

George Bonanno

Professor of Psychology and Education and Professor of Clinical Psychology

Warner Burke

Professor of Psychology & Education

George Bond

Professor of Anthropology and Education

Margaret Crocco

former TC Professor of Social Studies and Education

Morton Deutsch

E.L. Thorndike Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Education

Christopher Emdin

Assistant Professor of Science Education

Alumnus William Epps

Pastor, Second Baptist Church, Los Angeles

Celia Genishi

Professor of Education

Antoinette Gentile

Professor Emeritus, Movement Sciences

A. Lin Goodwin

Vice Dean and Professor of Education

Edmund Gordon

Richard March Hoe Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Education

Maxine Greene

William F. Russell Professor Emeritus in Foundations of Education

R. Douglas Greer

Professor of Psychology and Education

Jeffrey Henig

Professor of Political Science & Education, Department Chair, EPSA

Sharon Lynn Kagan

Marx Professor of Early Childhood and Family Policy

John B. King, Jr.

Ed.D. '08, New York State Commissioner of Education

Henry Levin

Professor of Economics & Education

Eric Nadelstern

Professor of Practice in Educational Leadership

Sandra Okita

Assistant Professor of Technology and Education

Michael Rebell

Professor of Law and Education

William Dodge Rueckert

Co-Chair, Teachers College Board of Trustees

Donna Shalala

President of the University of Miami, former TC faculty member

Gita Steiner-Khamsi

Professor of Education

Derald Wing Sue

Professor of Psychology and Education

Ruth Vinz

Program Coordinator, English Education

Cally L. Waite

Associate Professor of History and Education

Barbara Wallace

Professor of Health Education

Vivian Ota Wang

M. Phil. '94, Ph.D. '95

Howell Wechsler

Ed.D. '95 and 2012-2013 Tisch Lecturer

Dr. Ruth Westheimer

Sex Therapist, Author and Media Personality