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

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President Levine Creates TC Task Force on Diversity, Inclusion and Community

TC President Arthur Levine has appointed a task force of faculty, staff and students to review recommendations and to set goals on how to enhance the sense of community at Teachers College.

Over the course of the year, concerns about diversity and the sense of community at TC were expressed by staff, students and faculty, including Barbara Wallace, Associate Professor of Health Education. The Faculty Executive Council Subcommittee on Race, Culture and Diversity brought in a consultant to help it conduct a study of campus climate at TC. Levine held a series of lunches with faculty to discuss the matter.

In February, Levine sent a letter to the TC Community describing his ideal for Teachers College-adding that "no college will ever fully achieve this ideal." But he said: "Together we can bring Teachers College much, much closer to our collective hopes." And he called on members of the TC Community to offer suggestions on what could be done.

"I received e-mails, letters, office visits and impromptu conversations in the hallways and on the street. I heard from individuals and groups, from faculty, staff and students. All in all, I heard from at 130 different people. Given the informal conversations and the uncertainty about the size of the groups that wrote, this is a conservative estimate," Levine said in a letter distributed to faculty and staff in April.

The community responses ranged from there is no problem to concerns expressed about isolation, civility, changing culture, professional development, job performance and status differences. The list of recommendations for improvements was just as long and varied from teaching TC history, and recruiting more faculty and staff of color to providing more professional development.

"The task before us now is not one of merely choosing the most appealing items from the menu," Levine said in the April letter. "As a community, we can view this spring's conversations on community and diversity as a problem. That is, a dust up to be gotten past or a headache to make go away. Or, alternatively, we can treat them as an opportunity, a chance to make our College richer in diversity and stronger as a community."

"As President," he continued, "I have the power to act alone to stop some bad practices from occurring. But many of the positive acts proposed require collective action by the members of the community. They require community ownership and affirmation."

As a next step, he invited several members of the TC community to help him fashion a plan for enhancing diversity and the quality of community at TC. The task force is headed by Peter Coleman, Director of the International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution. Other members include Leonard Blackman, the College Ombudsman and Professor Emeritus of Education and Psychology and Professor Wallace.

Levine asked the task force to report back to him before the end of summer so that he will have time to work with committee members on a final recommendation to be presented to the faculty, staff, students and TC Trustees in the fall.

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