Teachers College
Presidential Search

Position & Candidate Specification

Teachers College, Columbia University (TC) was founded in the late 19th century with the belief that education writ broadly is the path to a better future. At the heart of our philosophy has always been a recognition that education is the “great equalizer” and the basis of a healthy society. TC has a proud legacy of innovating to meet the needs of the times while building on a solid foundation of evidence and practice – a legacy that includes creating the fields of special education, educational testing and psychology, nutrition education, conflict resolution, and urban education. TC has always viewed its leadership role in service to its mission of social justice in two complementary arenas. One is as a major player in policy making to ensure that schools are reformed and restructured to welcome all students regardless of their socio-economic background. The second is  preparing graduates to not only serve students directly but also to inform, design, and coordinate the educational, psychological, behavioral, technological, and health initiatives to remove barriers to learning at all ages.

Today, TC maintains its status as a progressive institution of cutting edge research, leadership and practice with over 170 full-time faculty in ten academic departments and over 5000 students (nearly half of whom identify as students of color, and over a fifth of whom come from countries other than the US) engaging in foundational and innovative coursework that leads to the awarding of graduate degrees in more than 70 academic programs. In recent years, we have added to our track record of moving the field forward with the launch of groundbreaking programs in learning analytics, spirituality and psychology, and digital educational games.

TC is an independently run affiliate of Columbia University, allowing us to maintain our own governance and financial planning while also benefitting from the vast academic and intellectual resources of one of the world’s foremost research universities. The College has achieved an operating surplus on its ~$300 million budget for 16 consecutive years and has an endowment of $288 million as of March 2017 and a physical plant valued at $450-500 million. TC is currently finishing a $300M capital campaign, "Where the Future Comes First,” the largest in history for a graduate school of education. Recent improvements to the physical plant and strong fiscal results continue to strengthen the financial base of TC in support and advancement of its mission. In 2016, the Middle States Commission for Higher Education emphatically renewed TC’s accreditation for the next 10 years, affirming the College’s efforts to shape 21st century approaches to teaching and learning through “a research-inspired multi-disciplinary approach, blending both theory and practice” and “responsiveness to emerging societal issues surrounding education.”

Though significantly evolved, the current mission of the College remains closely connected to the founding principle, which was to "provide a new kind of schooling for New York City's poor, one dedicated to helping them improve the quality of their everyday lives." TC today continues to meet the demands of a rapidly changing world – with new technologies, opportunities and challenges – using the wisdom of the past as building blocks in the constant pursuit of excellence, innovation, and impact.

The President of Teachers College (TC) will inspire and lead the development of an innovative, forward-thinking vision for the College, ensuring that it continues its legacy as a preeminent institution for scholars, practitioners, and policymakers – locally, nationally, and internationally. The President will shape and influence public discourse, working to ensure that educational equity and quality teaching and learning remain a national priority. He/she will promote an inclusive sense of community and maintain TC’s position as a leading institution working to promote social justice. He/she will work to enroll and support an excellent student body. As the chief executive officer, the President will guide the administration of TC, reinforce its scholarly values, and serve as its chief fundraiser. He/she will also hold primary responsibility for directing TC’s important relationships with Columbia University and the local community.

Report to
Board of Trustees

Direct reports
Provost and Dean of the College*
Vice President of Finance & Administration*
Vice President of Development & External Affairs*
Vice President of Diversity & Community Affairs
Associate Vice President of School & Community Partnerships
General Counsel
Chief of Staff & Secretary of the College*

(* Denotes an Officer of the College)



The next President of Teachers College, Columbia University will demonstrate the following critical leadership capabilities:

Vision and Strategy: The next President of Teacher’s College will demonstrate strengths in vision setting and in developing aspirational goals. He/she will have the ability to anticipate and recognize changes in the competitive landscape and create plans that chart the course for the College’s future. In order to achieve this, TC’s next President will not only bring clarity of vision, but also take a thoughtful and inclusive approach to strategic implementation.


Collaborating and Influencing: In keeping with TC’s desire for a strong sense of community, the President will seek to incorporate the input of a diverse range of constituencies in establishing and realizing an institutional vision. He/she will lead, listen, and engage others in dialogue that results in a linking of perspectives and a shared commitment across the entire College.


Complex Organizational Leadership: TC’s scale and complexity necessitate a President with exceptional administrative leadership abilities. The President will develop and partner with a strong team and will work to develop systems and services that are collaborative, transparent, and support the needs of the community as a whole. He/she will create a sustainable financial platform in the face of reductions in federal support, changing demographics, an unpredictable political climate, and expected changes in the delivery system for K-12 education.



  • Provide the executive leadership to ensure TC’s position as the premier institution among schools of education.
  • Attract, develop, and retain top-tier faculty, staff and students. Foster collaborative relationships with faculty, students, and staff. Continue to develop a diverse community where all members feel valued and have a shared sense of mission.
  • Inspire and motivate the community behind the belief that education makes all the difference in the lives of children, families, and communities. Build community and partnerships through transparent leadership and engagement with a broad spectrum of constituencies, both internal and external.
  • Manage the operational demands of a large, complex institution.
    • Ensure the long-term financial viability of TC, including:
    • Strengthening existing and diversified revenue streams
    • Effective management, in partnership with the Board, of the College’s endowment
    • Strategically leveraging the College’s relationship with Columbia University
    • Capitalizing on fundraising success
    • Continuing to leverage and engage the Board


  • Doctoral degree in a discipline connected to TC’s mission, with a scholarly record that demonstrates impact in their field.
  • Demonstrated skill at building partnerships and engaging multiple constituencies, promoting diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Track record of leading and managing large, complex educational organizations, and increasing organizational effectiveness.
  • Ability to provide insight into the issues of educational equity and social justice.
  • Past success driving fundraising programs while building and expanding relationships that will lead to new sources of funding.
  • Familiarity with building and working with a volunteer board.
  • Experience publically representing an institution and serving as its key spokesperson.



Continuing its long-standing policy to support active equality for all persons, Teachers College does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, citizenship status, veteran status, disability, pregnancy, gender expression or any other criterion specified by federal, state or local laws, in the administration of its admissions, employment and educational policies or scholarship, loan, athletic and other school-administered programs. Rather, Teachers College affirms that it admits students and selects employees regardless of their race, color, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, citizenship status, veteran status, disability, pregnancy, gender expression or any other criterion specified by federal, state or local laws and thereafter accords them all the rights and privileges generally made available to students or employees at the school.


The Presidential Search Committee is being assisted in this process by Spencer Stuart, and welcomes comments, questions, and nominations, or expressions of interest. To contact the Committee with comments, nominations, or expressions of interest, please send an e-mail with any supporting materials to the confidential address: TCPresident@spencerstuart.com


Search Committee

Leslie Nelson, Committee Chair (Trustee Vice Chair)
Bill Rueckert, Ex-Officio (Trustee Chair)
Pat Green (M.A., '63) (Trustee​)
Paul LeClerc (Trustee)
Eduardo Marti (Trustee)
Kent McGuire (M.A., '79) (Trustee)
Camilla Smith (M.A., '72) (Trustee)
Valerie Rockefeller (M.A., '98) (Trustee)
Charles Basch (Faculty)
Jim Corter (Faculty)
Michelle Knight-Manuel (Faculty)
Yolanda Sealey-Ruiz (M.A., '96) (Faculty)
Lalitha Vasudevan (Faculty)
Suzanne M. Murphy (M.Ed, '99; M.A., '96) (VP, Development & External Affairs)
Drew Coles (Student Senate President)
Jerome Davis (Secretary of the University, Columbia University Observer)
Katie Conway (Ed.D., 2012) (Chief of Staff & Secretary of the College - Committee Staff)

Candidate Nominations

All candidate nominations should be emailed to: tcpresident@spencerstuart.com

Spencer Stuart, a global executive search firm, has been retained by Teachers College to identify and recruit their new President. Teachers College is committed to conducting a comprehensive search process. All candidates will be given serious and thoughtful consideration in relation to the skills and requirements of the position. Should the Committee determine that the qualifications you have submitted represent a good match with those required for this position, Spencer Stuart will contact the nominee directly.

Teachers College, Columbia University

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  •   TCPresident@spencerstuart.com
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