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TC Communique Issue 1, Number 5

Setting financial priorities at Teachers College, Columbia University

The Financial Priorities Committee (FPC) wrapped up its initial review of program priorities in December with an update on technology improvements and reports on new and enhanced academic and student life programs. Proposals for improving the academic program range from establishing endowed chairs to providing more support for untenured faculty who need time to complete research projects. The student life proposals focus on financial support for students, improved access to facilities and services, childcare, and a Student Life Center.

The Committee's Hard Work Begins

In the coming months, committee members will start the difficult task of selecting the programs and services that should be the College's highest priorities. Updates about the committee's progress will be reported in future issues of the TC Communique. The TC community can give feedback at any time to FPC member or by sending electronic mail to fpc@columbia.edu. There is also a newsgroup on Usenet (accessible via Pine, Netscape or other browsers), columbia.tc.fpc, where faculty, students and staff can discuss the strategic planning process at TC. Back issues of the TC Communique are posted on the TC Web site, http://www.tc.columbia.edu/~newsbureau/ and to the columbia.tc.fpc newsgroup.

Technology and Distance Learning Update

Ena Haines, Director of Computing Information Services, said: "Our ability to deploy and support technology will determine how Teachers College is positioned for the future." The $10 million she requested for technology includes converting four classrooms into multimedia facilities that would accommodate video and computer use. It would also help renovate the library to make it easier for students to use their own computers or TC computers in the reading areas. The $5 million request for distance learning includes $2 million to finance the development of educational software and other products by faculty and students. It also includes $500,000 to construct a distance learning classroom.

Departmental Initiatives, Endowed Chairs and Student Support

Coming up with a list of recommendations for the FPC wasn't easy for department chairs, according to Dean Karen Zumwalt. One year after the reorganization of academic programs, the chairs were asked to simultaneously develop five-year plans outlining the future of the new departments and to list strategic financial needs for the FPC. The list they came up with had four elements in common: support for new department initiatives, the creation of endowed chairs to recruit new faculty and to recognize current professors, the establishment of fellowships for students and professional development programs. The department initiatives and professional development proposal would require an endowment of $107.7 million to support annual costs, according to Zumwalt. Below are listed just a few of the proposals submitted by department chairs and the Dean:

Arts and Humanities: To establish rotating endowed chairs for professors who would help develop new initiatives for the department; create a Center for Research in Arts and Humanities; set up a fund to support student fellowships and scholarships; and construct high tech labs for art, music and language programs.

Biobehavioral Studies: To create two endowed chairs: one for neurobehavioral development in infants, the other for neurobehavioral aspects of aging; and to refurbish science labs.

Counseling and Clinical Psychology: To create a Center for the Study of and Training in Psycho-social Aspects of Education; establish an endowed chair in applied psychology and the law; and refurbish the Center for Education and Psychology Services.

Curriculum and Teaching: To establish two endowed chairs: one in teacher education, the other in urban schooling or public school leadership; expand the Center for Infants and Parents to include a preschool program and new programs for daycare educators; and renovate Room 304 Main Hall and name it in memory of Professor Jeannette Fleischner.

Health and Behavior Studies: To create a Center for School and Community Health; establish three endowed chairs to address violence prevention, substance abuse prevention, and AIDS education and human sexuality; and fund 10 student fellowships.

Human Development: To establish an endowed chair in technology and psychology and to construct two technology labs: one where students can develop software for children, the other where faculty and students can conduct research in cognitive studies. The department also supports Curriculum and Teaching's proposal to expand the Center for Infants and Parents. The expanded daycare program would improve the training opportunities for students in the department.

International and Transcultural Studies: To establish an endowed chair; host a major conference that would be part of a celebration to commemorate 100 years of international education at TC; and renovate the Institute of International Studies.

Organization and Leadership: To develop a program in Health Administration and Leadership; create a Center for Excellence in Teaching and Professional Development in Higher Education; establish an endowed chair in private school leadership; and refurbish Room 214 Main Hall.

Scientific Foundations: To establish two endowed chairs and four endowed fellowships for the mathematics and science program; create two endowed chairs for the computing and communications programs; set up a technology fund that would be used to purchase the hardware and the software needed to keep department programs up-to-date; and refurbish the science laboratories.

Professional Development Initiatives: To provide release time for senior faculty who mentor untenured faculty; fund sabbaticals for untenured faculty to work on projects; create "a semester in the field" program for faculty who have not been actively engaged in practice for several years; set up a research development fund to help finance faculty research; open a Center for Excellence in Teaching to provide training on effective teaching techniques at the college and university level.

Student Development and Dissertation Grants

For several days following the October 29 Open Forum on the FPC, the TC Student Senate and the Office of Student Life conducted a survey to determine students' priorities. Associate Dean William J. Baldwin said: "A lot of students say that financial aid and facilities were so important they couldn't even rank the other needs." Two programs that would help them complete their doctoral programs more quickly are student professional development grants and dissertation grants. While advanced graduate students are often invited to deliver papers or to participate at professional conferences, many can't afford to finance the trip themselves. The proposal would provide $25,000-30,000 annually to help finance student participation in scholarly activities. Similarly, $50,000-70,000 annually is proposed to enable students to concentrate on their dissertation projects in the semester following the approval of their proposal.

Student Access to Facilities, Services and Technology

Although the College is working on improving access to facilities and services, the Student Senate and other student groups want the College to "fast-track" renovations and wants to create a $100,000 annual fund for up to five years to finance improvements that go beyond those addressed by ongoing renovation and repair projects.

While physical access is a problem for some students, access to computers is an obstacle for others. One solution would be to create a "laptop lending" program at the Milbank Memorial Library. The laptops would only available for use in the library. If the College purchased 25 to 30 machines, the cost would be about $100,000, but hopefully corporate contributions would reduce the cost. Another program would create a revolving short-term loan fund that would enable students to pay off the cost of a computer during the course of their degree programs.

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