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Something Old, Something New

Something Old, Something New

Our past, our future and a century-long constant

Dear Friend,

This issue of TC Today captures the old, the new and the constant and enduring at Teachers College.

Professor Emeritus Tom Sobol, who received the College's Medal for Distinguished Service at Convocation in May, stands here for our recent past. During the 1990s, as New York State's Commissioner of Education, Tom courageously allied himself with parents and community advocates suing the state for more resources for poorer schools. Yet Tom's greatest legacy is not that historic moment, but his continuing insistence-'"to his students, his colleagues and himself-'"on an alignment between professional and personal morality and his belief that, in legislating school conditions for all children, we give them nothing less than what we'd wish for our own. Tom honors TC with the role he has played in our own history and with his continuing presence in our classrooms.

The College's new Provost, Tom James, stands for our immediate future. As an educator, scholar and administrator, Tom embodies the Sobolian ideal of moral alignment, acting from a place of deeply felt personal conviction. His embrace of education as something that extends far beyond the schoolhouse and that is far broader than the skills and knowledge contained in the academic disciplines alone grows out of his own boyhood experiences with physical adversity and service to others. It takes the rare individual like Tom to make the ideals of an institution a reality, and we are fortunate indeed that he will be leading TC's efforts to do just that in the years to come.

As for the constant and enduring, nothing better fits that description at TC than Teachers College Press, 103 years old and going strong. The Press successfully competes against larger commercial houses, publishing quality titles while at the same time turning a profit for the College, but those are only its most obvious achievements. What makes the Press truly vital and special is something that cannot be scripted in the cleverest business plan: its living, breathing community of thinkers and writers whose shared intellectual traditions, personal connections and rigorous standards create ideas and books greater than any single mind could produce. Discoveries are made in that process; new ideas are advanced and books written that even the authors did not envision when they began; and, ultimately, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Which sounds an awful lot like Teachers College itself.


Susan Fuhrman

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