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State of the College: 8 steps to the future

Faculty, staff and students filled the Milbank Chapel September 15 to hear President Levine and Dean Zumwalt deliver the annual State of the College address. Closed captioning was provided this year.

After new business and the introduction of new faculty and staff, the President welcomed the community. The President offered a special welcome to Professor Emeritus Maxine Greene, whom he called, "one of the legends of the College." He reiterated the purpose of the institution: to prepare the current and next generation of leaders and to help shape the social debate and social policy on issues of education. He then outlined how those ideas have been transformed into action over the past five years.

He spoke about technology and physical plant improvements saying, "We have remade the College into a virtual technological community as well as upgraded facilities, offices, the roof, the student lounge, the entrance ramp and residential units."

The budget, salaries and revenues of the school were also noted. Levine said that multi-year budgeting is being put into practice and that the College has completed a major study on comparable salaries of professional staff within and outside the College. He added that results of the study will be brought to the Professional Staff Assembly and the Managment Network. He also mentioned the upcoming Capital Campaign, for which nearly $70 million of the $140 million goal has already been raised.

"Reflecting on the accomplishments over the last five years," Levine said, "I think the most important thing we have done is to establish a vision of what we want Teachers College to be."

He then outlined an eight-step agenda for the future of the College.The first step involves the continued academic reorganization of the College."Five-year planning was approved by every department, and this year we are putting the plans into place," Levine said. As part of this objective, the College will establish a five-year plan for CEO & I, a comprehensive enrollment plan and initiate task forces on issues such as financial aid and incentives on research.

Technological development was the second activity Levine stressed, including the establishment of TC Ventures, which allows the College to "make the world our campus" with educational products through technology. He also proposed providing professional development in the use of technology for faculty members. The work of the Technology Task Force, which met last year, will continue and will specifically examine the issue of intellectual property.

As a third step, the institution will look at "what we are doing at TC" and how to make it stronger. A study underway by Towers Perrin, a managment firm, will recommend ways to strengthen administrative and customer services.

Fourth, a $6.5 million gift will provide improvements to the library, Levine said. "This is a chance for us to stop and ask what our library should look like in the years to come."

The launching of the Capital Campaign and its contribution to improvements to the physical plant, such as Horace Mann, Milbank Chapel and Milbank Library, were the fifth and sixth steps Levine mentioned.

The seventh step, according to Levine, is the development of a strategic planning process for the College.

"The eighth issue, and the one I want to focus on," Levine said, "is diversity in the community." As the College is moving in a new direction, he added, the focus is being placed on quality, service, equity and fairness.

"We are a world-renowned institution and we talk about diversity all the time," Levine said. Although the institution has a history of diversity in the student body and curricula, more needs to be done. "I want us to agree on the agenda for action," he added.

He discussed the issues that were highlighted in community conversations last year, adding that the quality of life at the College was an important concern. "It is a very difficult topic, and one academic communities typically back away from," Levine said. "We shouldn't. We can't. There are no cookie cutter solutions."

Levine said that to address these concerns he established the Teachers College Task Force on Diversity and Community. (See story on page 3). The Task Force's effort to establish the College as a "magnet institution" for diverse students, faculty, and staff is a goal Levine believes the College should embrace. The Task Force offered 31 recommendations to achieve this mission, and though Levine admitted he doesn't agree with all 31, he said he agrees with "the vast majority of them."

The next step, according to the President, is to bring the report to the various groups that make up the College community. The community, he said, needs to agree on the goals and the activities needed to achieve this vision.

"I don't want to wait until the community has finished its work in deliberating over the report," Levine added. "So I plan to take the following actions immediately." First, he said he will appoint himself to serve as the "point person" on diversity and, second, he plans to begin an immediate search for an Assistant to the President for Diversity and Community.

Lauding the work of IUME (the Institute for Urban and Minority Education) the President looked forward to an Institute with a more powerful voice regarding urban and minority populations in the schools.

He also noted his disappointment in the number of faculty recruited by the Target of Opportunities Committee, which was established 12 years ago to recruit faculty members of color. To remedy that, former TC Professor Ed Gordon will work with the College on this agenda. The Task Force on Diversity will also continue reviewing progress and advising the President.

In addition to diversity and community, Dean Zumwalt said the College needs to look at high standards and community as well as accountability and community. "Taken together they present us with an interlocking set of challenges," she said. "These are similar issues being faced by our public schools and our nation. As one of the leading graduate schools of education, we should be modeling the kind of learning communities we advocate."

The Dean also announced that 53 faculty members received letters of recognition for receiving exceptionally high course evaluations in courses of nine or more students. Eight teachers obtained high course evaluations in two or more courses, and were publicly recognized and awarded a $300 stipend to be used at their discretion. They were: Jay Huebert, Associate Professor, Organization and Leadership; Lisa Miller, Assistant Professor, Counseling and Clinical Psychology; Steven Silverman, Professor, Health and Behavior Studies; Tom Sobol, Christian A. Johnson Professor for Outstanding Practice; Ruth Vinz, Associate Professor, Arts and Humanities; Christine Yeh, Assistant Professor, Counseling and Clinical Psychology; and two instructors from Arts and Humanities, Margaret Dwyer and Rene Schillinger.

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