Celebrating All Things 125
Published in TC Today - Volume 37, No. 2
A TC Party of Historic Proportions
A 12-month-long birthday party runs the risk of losing steam, but thus far in TC’s 125th anniversary year, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
The celebration started on January 25th (1/25) as the curtain rose on a special anniversary website (tc.edu/125) and a new weekly series on the College’s home page, “Mini Moments with Big Thinkers.” The series, produced by The Narrative Trust, features excerpts from videotaped interviews with leading TC alumni, current and former faculty (including Maxine Greene, Edmund Gordon, Donna Shalala and Joan Gussow) and friends (tc.edu/bigthinkers).
On January 31st, the lobby of Zankel Hall was the scene of “the Happy Three Hours,” a party that began at 5 p.m. and ran for significantly longer than advertised. Highlights included performances by faculty and students in the College’s Music and Music Education program; the presentation of a giant sheet cake and high-class eats underwritten by Culinart Inc., which operates the College’s cafeteria; an Instagram photo booth where participants posed for snapshots for their Facebook and other social media pages; a booth for adding words to a scrapbook to be included in a TC time capsule; a giant mural of the New York City skyline made by students at the Teachers College Community School; a table where community members could contribute to the TC Fund (while $1.25 was the going rate for students, one Alumni Council member wrote a check for $500); and glow sticks and necklaces, all in TC blue.
But that was just a warm-up. In early March, the College posted a video mash-up of faculty, students and staff, joined by youngsters from TC’s Rita Gold Early Childhood Center, singing “Happy Birthday, Teachers College” – an appropriate choice, since the “Happy Birthday” song (initially “Good Morning to All”) was composed in 1893 by TC faculty member Patty Smith Hill and her sister Mildred. The College also posted advertisements on bus shelters around Manhattan’s Upper West Side that proclaimed TC as a place “where firsts happen” and featured iconic figures such as John Dewey, Shirley Chisholm, Albert Ellis and Mary Swartz Rose. “Hands-on learning, before the touchscreen” proclaimed the ad featuring Dewey. “Courage to run, first to win” ran the ad about Chisholm, an alumna who was the first African-American woman elected to Congress and the first to run for a major party’s presidential nomination.
Then came March 4th and a special party that brought together top leaders in philanthropy, business, education, government and the arts, as well as many faculty members, trustees and others, to celebrate the opening of “Teachers College: Pioneering Education through Innovation,” a month-long exhibition at the New-York Historical Society.
“This exhibition allows us to share with our fellow New Yorkers the rich and storied past of Teachers College – and a vision for our future – as we celebrate our 125th anniversary,” President Susan Fuhrman told guests in her welcoming remarks.
Curated by Judith Burton, Professor of Art and Art Education, and researched by doctoral Research Fellow Jennifer Mitnick, “Pioneering Education Through Innovation” tells the story of TC’s remarkable “legacy of firsts,” from the launch of the field of nursing education in 1898 to the creation of the College’s spirituality and psychology master’s degree program in 2012.
“I am awed by the brilliance and insight of our founders and early leaders,” Fuhrman said. “Long before the concept of ‘teaching the whole child’ came into vogue, these education visionaries were building a remarkable institution that would address the intellectual, physical and psychological development of all learners. I know they would be proud to see TC standing tall as the oldest and largest school of education in the country, consistently ranked as one of the top education research institutions in the world.”
Keynote speaker Kenneth T. Jackson, Columbia University’s Jacques Barzun Professor in History and the Social Sciences, explained how the Gilded Age in New York City gave rise to modern-day American philanthropy, as a group of leading families created a remarkable assortment of institutions that continues to drive the civic and cultural life of New York City. In addition to Teachers College, that list includes the New York Public Library, the New York Botanical Garden, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, Grand Central Station, Jewish Theological Seminary, Carnegie Hall, Barnard College and Union Theological Seminary. Representatives from all of those institutions were on hand, as was Vartan Gregorian, President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, whom Fuhrman thanked for first proposing that the College expand its 125th anniversary celebration to include its sister institutions that were founded during the same period.
The evening’s pièce de résistance was a shout-out to five of the families that founded Teachers College. Current-day Vanderbilts, Macys, Milbanks, Rockefellers and Dodges ascended the stage of the Historical Society’s theater to loud applause, accompanied by members of the Teachers College Student Senate.
Fuhrman paid special tribute to Dodge scion and TC Board of Trustees Co-Chair William Dodge Rueckert (see story on page 92). Fuhrman described Rueckert’s great-great aunt Grace Dodge as “the College’s guiding spirit through its formative years.” She then turned to Rueckert and his wife, Fleur, and thanked them for carrying on “the Dodge family tradition of unwavering support, guidance and leadership.
“Bill and Fleur,” she said, amid boisterous cheers, “we hope there will always be a member of the Dodge family to serve as a guiding light for Teachers College.”
To watch a brief video about TC’s history, visit tc.edu/125/videos