2011 TC Pressroom
Teachers College, Columbia University
Teachers College Columbia University

TC Media Center from the Office of External Affairs

Section Navigation

Ennis Cosby, Doctoral Student, Remembered

One evening, students in a special education class were talking about the different places they had lived, and one young man said that, while he was growing up, he had lived in Massachusetts, Southern California and New York City.

"Your father must be in the military," another student said.

Ennis Cosby just smiled and said, "No, he's in business."

Ennis Cosby was, of course, the son of Bill Cosby, the famous entertainer, but, according to his professors at Teachers College, the young man did not make much of that fact.

Cosby was shot to death early Thursday morning, January 16, as he changed a flat tire on a deserted roadway in Southern California. He was 27 years old.

He had earned a master's degree in special education at TC in 1995 and was working on his doctorate in special education with a concentration in learning and reading disabilities.

While studying at TC, Cosby had interned as a student teacher at Alfred E. Smith Elementary School on the Upper West Side. He also tutored individual students with learning disabilities.

Cosby himself was diagnosed as dyslexic when he was an undergraduate at Morehouse College in Atlanta. He often talked to the children he tutored about his own problems in the classroom.

Professors at TC said that Cosby also talked about starting a special school and clinic for young people with learning disabilities.

Reacting to the news of Cosby's murder, President Levine issued a statement that said, "He was the kind of student of whom we would be proud even if his name was not Cosby."

In the hours and days following Cosby's death, his professors, Margaret Jo Shepherd and Jeannette Fleischner, were interviewed about their student by a wide variety of media-from the New York Times to the CBS program "48 Hours."

"It's hard to believe that this lively, energetic, enthusiastic man is dead," Professor Shepherd told reporters. "He was exactly the kind of person you would want to recruit into teaching."

In her interviews with the media, Professor Fleischner often talked about Cosby's smile: "It just lit up his face. It could light up a room."

previous page