Thomas Sobol, Shirley Ann Jackson and Lee Shulman to Speak at Convocation
Published in Inside - Volume XII, No.7
Thomas Sobol, TC Professor Emeritus and former New York State Commissioner of Education, will receive the College's Medal for Distinguished Service at the doctoral convocation ceremony on May 16, which will begin at 2:30.
Lee Shulman, President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education Emeritus at Stanford University, will also receive the medal at the 3:00 ceremony for master degree candidates on May 15. And theoretical physicist Shirley Ann Jackson, President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and former chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, will receive the medal at the evening ceremony for master degree students, to be held at 7 p.m. on May 15.
All the ceremonies will take place in Riverside Church, on 120th Street and Riverside Drive.
Sobol recently retired as TC's first Christian A. Johnson Professor of Outstanding Educational Practice. In that role, he supervised the Inquiry Program, the College's largest doctoral program for public school leaders, and oversaw the Superintendents Work Conference, an annual gathering of school leaders from around the country.
In the 1990s, as New York State's Commissioner of Education, Sobol led the creation of A New Compact for Learning: Improving Public Elementary, Middle, and Secondary Education Results, which was among the first documents to codify a state's achievement standards, including key concepts and competencies the students are required to know at different grade levels. He consciously shaped that document to offer a rationale for a legal argument that children should be given the necessary resources to succeed in school and subsequently played a leading role in advancing just such a legal argument. Named, by virtue of his position, as a defendant in the landmark Campaign for Fiscal Equity educational adequacy suit against New York State, he asked to switch sides in the case and ultimately served as an amicus witness to the plaintiff. In Williams vs. California, another major adequacy suit in which he subsequently gave testimony, Sobol enumerated what he described as "core elements that are required for schooling, regardless of what a state Constitution's education provisions are interpreted to mean," including safe and sanitary facilities, adequate supplies and resources, and, above all, access to quality teaching.
Sobol recently was honored at the American Association of School Administrators with a lifetime achievement award. He still teaches at TC and is now leading a coalition of retired and current superintendents who are trying to focus attention on key issues related to educational equity.
Jackson is the 18th President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the oldest technological research university in the U.S., which has campuses in Troy, New York, and Hartford, Connecticut. Calling her a "national treasure," the National Science Board selected her as its 2007 recipient of the prestigious Vannevar Bush Award for "a lifetime of achievements in scientific research, education and senior statesman-like contributions to public policy."
Described by Time Magazine (2005) as "perhaps the ultimate role model for women in science," Jackson has held senior leadership positions in government, industry, research and academia. She a leader in addressing what she has described as a "quiet crisis" in American science: the record numbers of scientists and engineers who are beginning to retire without enough young professionals prepared to replace them. She has urged a national focus on energy research as a focal point to excite and encourage greater interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers, noting that "energy security is the space race of this millennium."
Since assuming the presidency at Rensselaer, Jackson has fostered an extraordinary renaissance at the institution. This has included the hiring of new faculty; new construction and renovation of facilities for research, teaching and student life; a doubling of research awards; and innovations in curriculum, undergraduate research and student life initiatives.
Previously, Jackson was Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, from 1995 through 1999; a research scientist at the former AT&T Bell Laboratories; and a professor of theoretical physics at Rutgers University. She is past President (2004) and Chairman of the Board (2005) of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS); a member of the National Academy of Engineering; and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Physical Society and AAAS. She serves on the Board of Directors of NYSE Euronext, the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution and is a director of several major corporations. She has advisory roles and involvement in several other prestigious national organizations.
Jackson holds an S.B. in physics and a Ph.D. in theoretical elementary particle physics from M.I.T.
Shulman established a national reputation through his groundbreaking studies of medical reasoning and the cognitive processes involved in medical problem-solving. He followed these achievements by conducting technical studies in the field tests that led to the creation of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. As the eighth President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching-'"a position he recently announced that he will relinquish in August 2008 - he has brought to bear an expertise across varied areas and disciplines. He has compared educational interventions to medical treatments and then explored the rich notion that they simultaneously heal and introduce new variables into the education system that trigger "cascades" of unforeseen consequences. That idea, in turn, has laid the ground for Carnegie's view that "one must always look -'upstream' to understand the current nature of problems" and that "nearly every sector of the educational system can be simultaneously viewed as both upstream and downstream."
Shulman is past President of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and received its career award for Distinguished Contributions to Educational Research. He is a member of the National Academy of Education, having served as both President and Vice President. He is the recipient of the American Psychological Association's 1995 E.L. Thorndike Award for Distinguished Psychological Contributions to Education; a fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science; a Guggenheim Fellow; a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences; and the recipient of the 2006 Grawemeyer Prize in Education.
In 2004, Shulman's collected writings on teacher education and higher education were published by Jossey-Bass Inc. in two volumes, The Wisdom of Practice and Teaching as Community Property. He is a co-author of Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law (Carnegie/Jossey Bass, 2007). Shulman's research has dealt with the quality of teaching and teacher education; knowledge growth among those learning to teach; the assessment of teaching; medical education; the psychology of instruction in science, mathematics and medicine; the logic of educational research; and the quality of teaching in higher education. His most recent studies emphasize the central role of a "scholarship of teaching" in supporting needed changes in the cultures of higher education, and the function and features of signature pedagogies in professional education.
Since 1990, Shulman has collaborated with Pat Hutchings and Russell Edgerton on programs and research to strengthen the role of teaching in higher education. The themes of emphasizing teaching as a community property and supporting the needed changes in the cultures of higher education remain central to the mission of the Carnegie Foundation.