Ties That Bind
What keeps alumni loyal and involved? For TC Trustee Ruth Gottesman (M.A., 1952; Ed.D., 1968)-- chief benefactor with her husband of the College's beautiful Gottesman Libraries-'"it starts with a positive student experience that, hopefully, blossoms into a genuine belief in the mission and ideals of the institution and, ultimately, lifelong relationships with its students, faculty and even trustees.
Gottesman's own experience at TC started three years after she graduated from Barnard with a major in government. She had hoped to find a job relating to her major but quickly discovered that it was difficult for a woman with only an undergraduate degree to find challenging work. She attended secretarial school instead ("I flunked shorthand") and then worked at a food magazine ("about the furthest thing from my normal talents").
A favorite relative who taught remedial reading at City College suggested that the young woman might enjoy becoming a reading teacher. Gottesman enrolled at TC, earned an M.A. in Remedial Reading two and a half years later and began teaching reading in a newly integrated middle school in Greenburgh, New York.
Five years later, Gottesman decided to return to TC and earn an Ed.D. in Educational Psychology.
Faculty member Miriam Goldberg, whom Gottesman calls "one of TC's true stars," hired her as one of several research assistants to work on a U.S. Department of Educa-tion project that evaluated the effectiveness of different methods of teaching reading to beginners. "It is so important for students to be able to connect to a professor who is interested in them and helps them along," Gottesman says. In 1968, after receiving her Ed.D., Gottesman was hired to develop a program for children with dyslexia and other learning disabilities at the Children's Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center (CERC) at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She served for years as the Center's Director of Psychoeducational Services and, in 1991, expanded the program to include adults. In 1999, she became founding Director of the new Fisher Landau Center for Treatment of Learning Disabilities, an extension of CERC. She retired as Professor Emeritus in 2002.
In addition to conducting research, Gottesman developed education programs for teachers, volunteers and physicians-- but her greatest love was working directly with the children and adults who came to CERC and later to the Fisher Landau Center for help with their problems.
Through it all, her ties to TC re-mained constant, as she continued to supervise student interns and remain close to some of her TC colleagues and faculty members. She joined TC's Board in 1990 and, in 2001, she and her husband provided the financial support to launch the renovation of the library. From the start Gottesman has been a member of the Library Committee that, under current Gottesman Libraries Director Gary Natriello, conceptualized and determined the role that the library would play with-in the college.
"It's become such an exciting place, and Gary has been creative and dynamic as a leader," she says. "It's not just for gathering knowledge, but also for using knowledge to solve social problems and problems related to education. It's really a model to be emulated."
The same could be said of the woman who made it all possible.