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TC Communique Issue 1, Number 1

Setting financial priorities at Teachers College, Columbia University

This year, the TC community is in the process of making some important decisions about the College's future financial priorities, leading toward the anticipated Capital Campaign. Periodically during the academic year, updates about the progress of that work will be reported through this new publication--the TC Communique.

The Communique will detail the work of the Financial Priorities Committee (FPC), the group that is assisting in the development of a priority plan for review by the entire College community. The updates will be distributed at the College and posted on the TC Web site (http://www.tc.columbia.edu/~newsbureau/).

Must Invest in People

Teachers College needs to articulate its financial priorities for the future in a compelling manner in order to make effective choices about what we will do and when we will do it.

While TC must make a renewed investment in bricks and mortar, it is people--the faculty and the students--who make the College special. Dean Karen Zumwalt has asked the nine academic departments to review their programs and to develop five-year plans. At the same time, the departments are being asked to determine how they would use endowed chairs, what kinds of special initiatives should be financed and how the College should support professional development.

The College also must consider the needs of the new leaders we are educating. The average student leaves Teachers College with a $48,000 loan burden, and the TC community must try to lessen that debt by providing scholarships and other forms of financial aid.

Physical Plant Needs

The College's physical plant suffers from 20 years of deferred maintenance. Some classrooms are now cable- and Internet-ready thanks to renovations; however, much more must be done. Architectural and engineering consultants estimate that more than $90 million in renovations is needed. In the area of technology, the College has needs exceeding $7.5 million.

The Trustees authorized the use of about $6 million from the endowment to jump start the physical and technological improvements. But this is only a beginning.

Campus Involvement

Tough decisions must be made and they will be made with the participation of the entire TC community, including faculty, department chairs, the Faculty Executive Committee (FEC), the offices of the vice presidents, the Management Network, staff, students, alumni, and trustees.

These constituencies will provide input to and receive feedback from the Financial Priorities Committee, which is made up of a diverse group of alumni, faculty, professional staff, supervisors and trustees. Student members are expected to be appointed shortly. For example, the faculty and students will be communicating their priorities to their chairs and the FEC; while managers will provide input through the Management Network; and administrative staffers will have opportunities to participate by informing their respective vice presidents.

The members of the FPC are: Alumni David Gomez (the chairman of the Alumni Council) and Susan Diamond; Professors John Allegrante, Thomas Bailey, George Bond, Craig Richards, Ernst Rothkopf and Cally Waite; Trustees Gay Culverhouse, Thomas W. Evans (the chairman of the Board of Trustees), John Irwin, Dinny Morse and Ron Nicholson; Joseph Brosnan, Vice President for Development and External Affairs; Michelle Brown, Director of Student Accounts; Peter Cookson, Director of the Center for Educational Outreach and Innovation; Vincent Del Bagno, Director of Facilities, Safety, and Security; Ann Finholt, Director of the Annual Fund; Jane Franck, Director of the Library; Ena Haines, Director of Administrative Computing; Marjorie Hart, member of the President's Advisory Council; Richard Keller, Director of Services for Students with Disabilities; Arthur Levine, President; Karen Osborne, consultant to the Office of Development and External Affairs; Fred Schnur, Vice President for Finance and Administration; and Dean Zumwalt.

{Professors Rothkopf and Allegrante, who served on the FPC last semester, are now on sabbatical and will be replaced shortly.}

Scheduled meetings of the FPC for the Fall semester are: October 1, October 22, November 18, and December 17.

"Let's face it," TC President Levine said, "financial planning is all about making choices about competing needs and initiatives. We realize that there are a vast number of needs to be met but there is a finite amount of funding that can be raised. We have to make hard decisions based on what is most important for the future success of Teachers College."

The End Result: A Blueprint for the Future

By the end of the academic year, the TC community should have reached a broad agreement on "where we are going and what we hope to achieve," said Vice President Brosnan, who is chairman of the FPC. The committee wants--and needs--input from the entire TC community. In the spring, public forums will be scheduled where the preliminary report from the Financial Priorities Committee will be discussed and debated. The TC community can give feedback at any time to the FPC members, who are from a diverse range of constituencies.

In addition, an electronic mail address (fpc@columbia.edu) is being established where TC alumni, faculty, staff members and students may submit comments about the committee's work.

FPC Chairman Brosnan said, "This report will allow us to make a compelling and persuasive case to prospective donors as to why they should invest in the future of Teachers College."

After a consensus is reached, recommendations will go to the President and the Board of Trustees and a final report will be issued. The final report will serve as a guide for the new Capital Campaign the College wants to launch next year. Money raised during that campaign will target TC's most pressing and critical needs.

"We only have this opportunity once," said President Levine. "America's business and political leaders are focused on education as never before. This is our moment. This is our time. We have to ensure that our resources are equal to our dreams for the future of Teachers College."

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