Office of the Provost, Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs


Welcome to Teachers College (TC). Often welcome messages emphasize what sets an institution apart. I want to welcome you by sharing, specifically, how connected we are — to NYC, to our fields of study and communities of practice and to each other as part of a strong community. 

First, some history . . . 

Founded in 1887, Teachers College developed out of what was initially a “kitchen garden” school that offered the practical arts of sewing, cooking and literacy to provide greater education and life opportunities for immigrant women. TC founders believed deeply that educational opportunity is connected to physical and mental health, income and resources, community and identity. The idea was that a holistic approach to education would be transformative — not just for individuals but for society.

TC founders also insisted that the College would be for — and of — the community it served. There were kitchens, schools for young children, discussions about how to create greater access to free public education. There were no walls around TC’s buildings. Instead, there were direct connections between classrooms, homes and the community.

Today, TC has evolved into the largest and most comprehensive graduate and professional school of education, psychology and health. We have 4,645 students hailing from over 80 countries, 227 faculty and lecturers, and 42-plus academic programs across those fields that are organized within 10 academic departments. 

TC is a place of firsts.

TC is the birthplace of many fields of study, such as education psychology, nutrition education, special education, educational neuroscience, conflict resolution, and spirituality and education. In 1893, TC began offering the first formal Doctor of Philosophy program in the field of Education in the United States (Cremin, 1977). Today 24 percent of our graduate students are the first in their families to attain higher education. 

In the 1920s and 1930s, TC served as a destination of choice for aspiring Black teachers from the South whose home states barred access.

In the early 1950s, our program to prepare teachers in East Africa helped lead to the creation of the Peace Corps — and today, our Jaffe Peace Corps Fellows Program supports returning Peace Corps volunteers to transition into teaching positions in high-need schools in New York City. 

TC remains today a place of firsts — whether that be the first hip hop album dissertation in K-12 education, the creation of the first K-12 Black Studies curriculum for NYC public schools,  a one-of-a-kind doctoral program in dance education, or the first studies to definitively link increased income with infant brain development. However, what is also important is how we approach our work.

TC has a deep and abiding commitment to diversity, equity, and community that shines forth in who we are, where we are, and the work we do.

Consider for a moment who TC is (as of 2023-2024). Forty-nine percent of our student body are students of color, and 33 percent are international students. Sixty-six percent of our students are multilingual, and we estimate at least 40 languages are spoken among our student population. Thirty-five percent of our domestic faculty identify as persons of color. Forty-four percent of TC’s administrative staff, and the majority of our union staff, identify as people of color. 

We also are proud to have 90,000 alumni from around the world. And as an affiliate institution of Columbia University, TC is the first and largest graduate school of education in the nation.

Since its founding, TC has had an abiding commitment to justice, equity and the underserved  — and that commitment defines so much of the work done at the College. For example, you see it in the study of health disparities, programs that promote inclusion for children with disabilities, approaches to therapy for the displaced, expanded opportunities for civic learning in schools and work to increase community college student outcomes. 

Teachers College has evolved and been shaped by the diversity of identity, thought, physical space and history of NYC, and Morningside Heights and Harlem specifically. It is not a coincidence that the first Black Studies curriculum was created by our Black Education Research Center (BERC) steps from Harlem. Nor is it happenstance that our faculty advance inclusion for multilingual learners in the most linguistically diverse city in the world (with more than 800 languages spoken in NYC), or that our dance and art education programs are so strong when we live in the global center of the arts. Our International Institute just celebrated 100 years of global partnership work, and NYC is the place where world leaders and the United Nations meet to discuss issues of world health, education and economics. Where we are has shaped us, animates us and gives us purpose.

TC measures success in impact. 

Our research matters and has wide impacts in NYC, and world-wide across areas of education, health and psychology. For example, our faculty, students and staff have created evidence-based practices to improve early literacy, worked to make schools healthier through investments in free and healthy lunch programs and safer by advocating policies that reduce gun violence. TC colleagues have created and shared models of group therapy for those displaced, shared data science tools to educate about climate change, and improved access to STEM learning through popular culture and hip-hop. 

Our programs are highly ranked, and our faculty and students have been recognized by prestigious awards and fellowships such as the National Academy of Education, AERA (American Educational Research Association), APA (American Psychological Association) and ASHA (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association). Our faculty are editors or co-editors of more than 50 journals, and they share their work and lead their fields through 38 research centers and institutes, and 20 faculty labs providing outstanding research and learning opportunities for our students. 

Our faculty and staff also reach out to learn from teachers, researchers and school leaders in the field through innovative podcasts such as Teaching Today, Pop ‘n Play, and AI in the Classroom, among many others. Our faculty, students and staff invite community members from Harlem, Morningside Heights and other parts of NYC to campus through engagements with our Rita Gold Early Childhood Center, the Hollingworth Center, the Teachers College Community School, the Dean Hope Center, the Arnhold Institute for Dance Education and Neurorehabilitation Research Laboratory.

Teachers College places more than 400 student teachers each semester in schools across NYC and the surrounding areas.  Approximately 75 percent of student teaching placements are in NYC public schools.

Deeply engaged with partners around the world, Teachers College and its graduates have also helped develop education, health and mental health systems in China, Afghanistan, Mexico, Thailand, Ghana and other nations. Each year, we host over 35 Fulbright students and scholars to study at TC.

I hope this welcome has provided a window into what makes TC connected to NYC — and to the latest and most exciting scholarship happening across and at the intersections of education, health and psychology, and connected to each other through a community that invests in one another.

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