Celebrating Philanthropy in Tough Times
Every Thursday morning, Teachers College doctoral student Guillermo Marini leaves the Upper Westside of
Manhattan and travels to City’s largest jail. There, he sets about the task of helping some of the teenagers and young adults imprisoned in the vast facility document their life stories on paper as part of TC’s Student Press Initiative. Rikers Island, New York
It is work that has deeply affected his notion of education and social justice.
“I confess that my understanding of what education is has changed for good and forever,” said Marini, who calls the program “the highest point” in his Ph.D. work in philosophy and education. “If not a fun or always uplifting task, going to jail every Thursday morning and spending hours of work with the students and teachers seems to me real and educational in every possible sense.”
Marini, who receives financial support through an Arthur Zankel Urban Fellowship, spoke about his experiences at
in early April at the College’s annual Scholarship Luncheon. Rikers Island
The event, held at the Columbia-Princeton Club in midtown
, drew about 100 donors and students. This year, the gloomy economic picture that has affected endowments and budgets of colleges and universities large and small lent a keener sense of urgency to the proceedings. Manhattan
“By helping our students, you are, by extension, helping the many generations of scholars and professionals whom they, in turn, will teach, influence and inspire to similarly go on and find ways to improve the world,” President Susan Fuhrman told the donors. “That’s ever truer during tough times like these. With the problems we face today, the world has perhaps an even greater need for gifted teachers, committed researchers, and experienced practitioners. Similarly, the founding vision of Teachers College, which was to bring educational opportunity to all members of society, also becomes important.
Fuhrman added that although the current “financial turbulence” has been challenging, TC is committed “to not only to maintaining financial aid, but in fact to increasing it. Next year, aid will be increased by $1 million, and we are doing all we can to minimize tuition increases, as well.”
Elaine Wolfensohn, who received a master’s degree from TC in 1997 and currently serves on the President’s Advisory Council and the International Advisory Council, addressed the gathering on behalf of donors. In 2002, she endowed the Wolfensohn Family Foundation Scholarship Fund at TC to provide scholarships for international students.
Wolfensohn said she traveled the world during the 10 years her husband, James Wolfensohn, was president of the World Bank, visiting schools and meeting with teachers, students and parents. Endowing a scholarship, she said, is a key way to make a TC education possible for students throughout the world.
“I focused on international students not only because the rest of the world needs better teachers as much as we do—if not more—but also because there is so much to learn from having the international students at Teachers College,” Wolfensohn said. Referring to her travels, she added, “No matter how poor the country I was in, in each country something creative and wonderful was happening.”
Marini, meanwhile, told donors that his is also the recipient of a Weinberg Fellowship. That fellowship has made it possible for him to work with other TC students to develop the Philosophy Outreach Program that engages high school students in
Harlem in philosophical discussions about life and its meaning. The program, he said, has grown to include five high schools.
“With the help of Sue Ann Weinberg and the enduring generosity of Arthur Zankel and his family,” Marini said, “I am in the fortunate position of focusing all of my attention on my studies and research interests.”previous page