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President's Letter: Building TC's Future

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TC President Susan Fuhrman

TC President Susan Fuhrman

After our year-long celebration of TC’s 125th anniversary, we’re focusing on the future and how the College will help change the world in the next 125 years. By extending our tradition of connecting the dots across programs and disciplines, between faculty and students, and in our communities and around the globe, we’re helping to create a smarter, healthier and more just world.

As you will read in this issue, we’re working on very diverse fronts. The Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy, for example, is developing healthier communities in New York City, while advancing nutrition education and shaping policy at the local, state and federal levels. The Center builds on our longstanding leadership in nutrition education and reflects the vision of TC Trustee Laurie Tisch that access to healthy food, as well as to education and the arts, should not be determined by zip code.

TC’s model of university-assisted public schools seeks to advance those same goals by bringing the best of the College’s teaching, research and resources to a network of schools in our neighborhood, anchored by the Teachers College Community School (TCCS). It has been wonderful to see children at TCCS flourishing academically and developmentally in the school’s supportive and enriched environment. Imagine the difference we could make if every university partnered with schools in their neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, we’re preparing our future teachers to expand the definition of literacy for a generation that reads on their iPhones and taps messages in text-speak. Bidding adieu to the traditional five-paragraph essay, TC’s English Education faculty are fashioning new tools and strategies to help marginalized students recognize the personal relevance and importance of literature and writing.

Through research, education and action, we’re also renewing the TC legacy of according individuals respect and dignity and recognizing the richness of diversity and its great value to society. To that end, the College’s emerging Sexuality, Women, & Gender Project is incorporating issues and concerns that relate to women and LGBTQ individuals into all areas of study.

International engagement is yet another mainstay of the TC legacy we plan to grow in the years ahead. While many institutions work internationally, the TC difference lies in our intense focus on capacity-building and helping nations and communities develop and retain their own expertise. For example, the growing education sector in Brazil — now the world’s seventh-largest economy — presents myriad opportunities for TC faculty and students to work with their Brazilian counterparts and through Columbia’s Global Center in Rio de Janeiro.

Back home along the newly christened Teachers College Way, we’re preparing our campus for the future. We’re creating a suite of smart classrooms and a library learning theater, renovating our leading-edge Neurocognition of Language Lab, and otherwise enhancing infrastructure in our historic buildings. In the virtual sphere, we’re exploring the use and effectiveness of technology-based education, such as MOOCs, which can reach millions.

To enable all this exciting work — and more — we recently launched our $300 million campaign Where the Future Comes First: The Campaign for Teachers College. The campaign focuses our energies as never before to support our talented students, reinvigorate our legacy and galvanize the ideas and collaborations that will help shape the 21st century. With the campaign as our foundation, we are ready to lead. The TC future begins now.

SUSAN FUHRMAN (PH.D. ’77)
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