Telling the TC Story
On opening night at the New York Historical Society, hopes for a future even brighter than TC’s past
- Here's to History Repeating Itself
Old artifacts and past glories were only half the story this past Monday evening at an opening night bash to launch "Teachers College: Pioneering Education through Innovation," a month-long exhibit at the New York Historical Society.
Old artifacts and past glories were only half the story this past Monday evening at an opening night bash to launch “Teachers College: Pioneering Education through Innovation,” a month-long exhibit at the New York Historical Society.
“I am thrilled by the dazzling sight before me – 400 top leaders in philanthropy, business, education, government and the arts, all gathered in one room,” said TC President Susan Fuhrman told guests in her welcoming remarks. “This exhibit allows us to share with our fellow New Yorkers the rich and storied past of Teachers College – and a vision for our future -- as we celebrate our 125th anniversary. It feels like we are actually creating history at this very moment.”
In a very real sense, “Pioneering Education through Innovation – which was curated by TC Art and Art Education Professor Judith Burton (a faculty member in the department of Arts and Humanities), designed by John Boudreau, an independent designer, and prodigiously researched by Jennifer Mitnick, a TC doctoral research fellow -- did just that. Guests were treated to an exhibit that not only tells the story of TC’s remarkable “legacy of firsts” – the many fields created at West 120th Street, from nursing education in 1898 to spirituality in psychology in 2012 – but also highlights current work at the College that promises, once again, to reshape the world.
“I am awed by the brilliance and insight of our founders and early leaders,” Fuhrman said. “Long before the concept of teaching ‘the whole child’ came into vogue, these education visionaries were building a remarkable institution that would address the intellectual, physical and psychological development of all learners…I know they would be proud to see TC standing tall as the oldest and largest school of education in the country, consistently ranked as one of the top education research institutions in the world” as well as “one of the world’s leading addresses for expert policy advice and on-the-ground partnerships in education.”
In the evening’s keynote address, Kenneth T. Jackson, Columbia University’s Jacques Barzun Profess or of History and Director of the Herbert H. Lehman Center for American History, spoke about the Gilded Age in New York City as the birth-period of modern-day American philanthropy, when a group of leading families created a remarkable assortment of institutions that continue to drive the civic and cultural life of New York City. In addition to Teachers College, that list includes the New York Public Library, the New York Botanical Garden, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, Grand Central Station, the Brooklyn Bridge, Barnard College and Union Theological Seminary. Representatives from all of those institutions were on hand – as was Vartan Gregorian, President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, whom Fuhrman thanked for first proposing that the College expand its 125th anniversary celebration to include its “sister institutions” that were founded during the same period.
“We are proud that TC was founded as part of a wave of new cultural and educational institutions that would shape the future of New York and the world,” Fuhrman said.
The evening’s piece de resistance was a shout-out to current-day members of five of the families that founded many of those institutions – the Vanderbilts, the Macys, the Milbanks, the Rockefellers and the Dodges – ascended the stage of the Historical Society’s theater, accompanied by members of the Teachers College Student Senate, to be acknowledged for their families’ ongoing good works.
“Their vision, generosity and dedication helped to make New York City a world-class city,” Fuhrman said.
She paid tribute to the College’s current faculty, who “extend our legacy of firsts” and “without whom none of the advances I have described could happen.” As a TC alumna herself, Fuhrman (Ph.D. ’77) saluted “the impact of my fellow 90,000 alumni, who at any given moment are making a positive difference in the lives of millions of people.” And she closed with the declaration that “today’s Trusteees embody the commitment, wisdom and support of our visionary founding families.”
For anyone contemplating TC’s potential impact for the next 125 years, that was good news indeed.