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Janice S. Robinson Returns to Teachers College

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Janice S. Robinson Returns to Teachers College

Janice S. Robinson

Twenty-four years after receiving two master's degrees from Teachers College, Janice S. Robinson is back. During the time she was away, she has held various positions-from teacher to lawyer to Associate Dean. Throughout her career, she has touched the lives of students of all ages. Her new position at TC, as the Assistant and Special Counsel to the President for Diversity and Community, is a confluence of her legal, academic and administrative experience.

"The Assistant and Special Counsel to the President for Diversity and Community position was created as part of the College's diversity initiative based upon the recommendations of the Diversity Task Force," said President Arthur Levine. "A ten-member search committee, representative of the TC Community, was assembled in November of 1999 to assist in finding and selecting a candidate for this position." Robinson was chosen out of the pool of candidates for her outstanding achievements and her accomplishments.

"One of the first things I will be doing is to meet and listen to as many people as possible," emphasized Robinson. "I want to try and immerse myself, roll up my sleeves, and get into the issues." She added, "We will then quickly develop and implement an integrated strategy to assist with diversity and community issues involving faculty members, unionized and non-unionized staff members, and students."

Robinson came to Teachers College from Rutgers University in Newark after 15 years, where her responsibilities involved working with faculty members, students, administration and the legal and local communities. Since 1996, she held a unique joint appointment with the law school and the undergraduate college. She was the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Director of the Academic Foundations Center and Educational Opportunity Fund (AFC/EOF) program and Special Counsel to the Dean of the Law School. Prior to directing the Center, she served as Assistant Dean, Director of the Minority Student Program and Director of Financial Aid at Rutgers School of Law. She is well versed in the issues that impact educational institutions including affirmative action in admissions and hiring, academic policy, budgets, personnel and student concerns.

In 1996, she joined the Academic Foundations Center and has been the driving force in the Center's growth. Under her leadership, Robinson and AFC obtained $2 million in grants from foundations and government.

She worked with both graduate and undergraduate students there. "People need to be prepared for College no matter their backgrounds," said Robinson. To reinforce this, the AFC provides summer sessions and Saturday Academies for SAT preparation to help prepare promising students for college level education. She also worked closely with the Dean of the Law School in a confidential capacity involving academic, faculty appointments and diversity policies.

"Affirmative action in higher education with all its tentacles reaching into many institutional areas is really my area of expertise," Robinson said. "I have been engaged in the implementation of educational ideas and polices to try to make a difference in peoples' lives."

Her commitment to education and law began early in her undergraduate years. After receiving her B.S. from the University of Bridgeport, Robinson earned an M.A. in physical education and an Ed.M. in educational administration from TC. Like her grandmother and mother, she became a teacher. Robinson worked from 1974-1979 at the Dalton School in New York City where she taught lower and middle school as well as coached varsity basketball and softball teams. She taught briefly in the City of Bridgeport also.

Later, she earned a J.D. from St. John's University School of Law. She practiced as a trial and appellate attorney at the Civil Division of the Legal Aid Society handling housing, discrimination, social security and consumer cases. In 1994, she received a prestigious fellowship at the University of London's Institute for Advanced Legal Studies that allowed her to spend time in London and South Africa researching and lecturing about minority education and affirmative action in higher education.

Appointed by former New York City Mayor David Dinkins in 1993, she served on the New York City's Rent Stabilization Guidelines Board until 1995. Robinson was responsible for determining the rent for more than two million New York City residents.

She is a member of the Association of the City Bar of New York where she served on the Judiciary Committee and the Legal Education and Admission to the Bar Committee. Robinson served as a member of the Board of Directors of the New York County Lawyers Association as well. She has been honored with many different awards such as the Outstanding Public Service Lawyer Award from the New York County Lawyers Association and the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Lesbian and Gay Law Association of Greater New York. In 1997, she was admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court.

"The position at TC is a good fit for me because of my variety of experiences in legal issues, higher education and my commitment to urban education at all levels," she said.

In a recent memo to the community, Levine said, "I am very grateful to the search committee and all who participated in helping to make this selection decision. Ms. Robinson is eager to work with us. I look forward to her arrival."

Robinson stressed how appreciative she is to Teachers College for the education that she received and how she looks forward to working with faculty members, students and the entire staff. "You cannot often foresee where your career will take you and you don't always realize what an institution is giving you until after you graduate- it's important to me that I am coming back."

To reach Janice S. Robinson or to schedule an appointment, e-mail her at jrobinson@exchange.tc.columbia.edu

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