Published in TC Today - Volume 37, No. 2
By Rebecca Chad And Heather Smitelli
Arlene Ackerman, TC’s Christian A. Johnson Professor of Outstanding Education Practice from 2006 to 2008, died in early February. Ackerman served as Superintendent of Schools in Washington, D.C., San Francisco and Philadelphia. Student test scores rose in all three cities during her tenure.
In 2004 and 2005, Ackerman led San Francisco’s schools to the highest achievement of any urban school system in California. In 2010 she received the Richard R. Green Award for Excellence in Urban Education, which recognizes the nation’s top urban schools chief, from the Council of the Great City Schools.
At TC, Ackerman directed the Inquiry Program and the College’s Superintendents Work Conference.
Donald Byrd (Ed.D. ’82), the legendary trumpeter, composer and band leader, died in December 2012.
Born Donaldson Toussaint L’Ouverture Byrd, the Detroit native got his start with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in New York City during the late 1950s. After studying in France with Nadia Boulanger, he began incorporating gospel into his approach to bebop, featuring a gospel choir on his 1963 record, “A New Perspective.” He later performed with Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane and Herbie Hancock, and also recorded a popular fusion/dance beat album, Black Byrd.
Byrd earned a law degree from Howard University and completed his doctorate at TC. He taught at several universities, including Columbia.
Elbert K. Fretwell Jr. (Ph.D. ’53), Chancellor Emeritus of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, passed away in October 2012. The son of TC alumnus Elbert K. Fretwell, who was Chief Scout Executive of the Boy Scouts of America, the younger Fretwell presided over a major increase in enrollment at UNC-Charlotte from 1979 to 1989. He created the institution’s graduate school, brought its library’s card catalogue online, helped set up a major business incubator, developed the neighborhood around the university and significantly increased academic grants.
In 1996 UNC-Charlotte dedicated its E.K. and Dorrie Fretwell Building, which houses the university’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Martin Haberman (M.A. ’57, Ed.D. ’62), Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the developer of methods for identifying teachers and principals likely to succeed in working with poor children, died in January. Haberman made teaching his life’s work after passing a 30-word vocabulary test that enabled him to stay in college rather than serve in the Korean War. The Metropolitan Milwaukee Teacher Education Program, which he created to prepare teachers to work with poor urban children, became the model for the National Teacher Corps.
The author of Star Principals: Serving Children in Poverty (1999) and Star Teachers of Children in Poverty (1995), Haberman helped districts that serve at risk-students develop pipelines of principals and teachers.
Ronald A. Nicholson
Ronald A. Nicholson, a former TC Trustee who served during the presidencies of Michael Timpane and Arthur Levine, died in early March. Nicholson was a successful real estate developer who had attended Harvard Law School and was a member of the Bar in both Massachusetts and New York. In 1998, he and his wife, Patricia (Emsworth-Rodgers; M.A. ’93), created the Nicholson Family Scholarship to support students in TC’s Institute for Learning Technologies.
An Air Force First Lieutenant during the early 1950s, Nicholson supported the Wounded Warrior Project, which seeks to help wounded service members return to full function in society.
E. Edmund Reutter
E. Edmund Reutter Jr. (M.A. ’48, Ph.D. ’50), Professor Emeritus of Education in Education Institutions and Programs, passed away in 2012. He earned his undergraduate degree at Johns Hopkins in 1944, and master’s and doctoral degrees at Teachers College.
Reutter, who was 88, taught a widely admired class at TC on the legal aspects of education. His books included Schools and the Law (1980; part of the Legal Almanac series), The Supreme Court’s Impact on Public Education (1982), and The Law of Public Education (2001; part of the American Casebook series).
Leah Cahan Schaefer
Leah Cahan Schaefer (Ed.D. ’64), a pioneer in the study of women’s sexuality and transgender health, died in January. She received TC’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2007.
Schaefer’s 1973 book, Women and Sex: Sexual Experiences and Reactions of a Group of Thirty Women as Told to a Female Psychotherapist, grew out of her doctoral dissertation at TC, where she worked with Margaret Mead and Ernest G. Osborne.
Schaefer served as President of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality and was a founder and two-term President of the organization that became the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. She received the Association’s Harry Benjamin Life Achievement Award.
Marvin Sontag, a former TC Associate Professor of Psychology and Education who taught research methods and statistics, died in November 2012.
A member of the National Council on Measurement in Education, Sontag was an authority on testing, evaluation and multinational research. He taught at New York University and City College and then worked for the New York City Board of Education. At TC, where he served as thesis advisor to more than 100 doctoral candidates, Sontag worked with the College’s Head Start Evaluation Center and on numerous evaluations of educational programs in areas such as physician’s training, computer-assisted instruction and minority youth services.