There are three things that can be said with absolute certainty about Susan Fuhrman’s presidency at Teachers College.
The first is that, since her arrival in Fall 2006, Fuhrman has consistently promoted multidisciplinary work, urging faculty in each of TC’s departments and across its three broad areas of expertise – education, health and psychology – to find points of connection and jointly tackle the world’s most challenging problems. Early in Fuhrman’s tenure, she hosted a series of “domain dinners” for just that purpose, and one result was the creation of a brand new academic department, Education Policy & Social Analysis, which united stellar policy-focused faculty from across the College. Another was the TC Provost’s Investment Fund, which provides seed grants to cross-disciplinary faculty projects.
Second, Fuhrman cares deeply about TC’s students, and more specifically about ensuring that students’ idealism and desire to create a better world aren’t hindered by TC’s tuition and the high cost of living in New York City. To that end, when TC launched its historic Campaign, Where the Future Comes First, she declared that the top priority was to increase scholarship support for students. The result: the College has raised nearly $90 million in scholarships, including the creation of 159 new named scholarships.
A third hallmark of Fuhrman’s tenure is…well, a bit more idiosyncratic: her tendency, when pleased and grateful, to say, “Thanks a million!”
“The heart of this job is the opportunity to make things possible for other people, and that’s been immensely gratifying. It’s what I’ll miss most. So the ‘Thanks a Million’ campaign is really wonderful. There couldn’t be a better gift for me than to enhance student support at TC and to be fortunate enough to have a scholarship with my name on it.”
— Susan Fuhrman, President of Teachers College
It’s not surprising then, that, in casting about for a way to pay tribute to her remarkable 12-year run at TC’s helm, Fuhrman’s friends and colleagues hit on the idea of launching a campaign called – you guessed it – “Thanks a Million!” The campaign, which is already reaping dividends, urges TC community members and friends to contribute to either of two venues: The TC Fund, which cuts across all areas of the College and has been a major priority for Fuhrman, and the new Susan H. Fuhrman Endowed Scholarship, which supports students who “embrace a multidisciplinary approach in their work.”
Fuhrman has been deeply touched by the effort.
“The heart of this job is the opportunity to make things possible for other people, and that’s been immensely gratifying,” she said recently. “It’s what I’ll miss most. So the ‘Thanks a Million’ campaign is really wonderful. There couldn’t be a better gift for me than to enhance student support at TC and to be fortunate enough to have a scholarship with my name on it.”
And “Thanks a Million!”, which to date has raised $450,000, seems to be striking a chord with the TC community as well.
“Susan is powerful, perceptive, unflappable and tenacious,” says contributor and longtime TC supporter Stuart Shorenstein, founder of the Public Strategies Group for Cozen O’Connor and Co-Head of the firm’s New York Public Strategies Team. “Combined with her intellect and extraordinary vision, Susan has created a model of leadership that stretches from students, faculty, staff, alumni and the community at large and has led Teachers College to unprecedented heights during her decade-long presidency.”
Another contributor, Michael Feierman, who became TC’s General Counsel last year, adds: “I have always known that TC had a worldwide impact on education, but now that I am here, I see firsthand the progress the College has made under Susan’s leadership and the importance she places on providing financial aid for students.”
The “Thanks a Million!” campaign has included efforts by TC’s Office of Alumni Relations to publicize the scholarship at “TC2U” alumni events around the world. It will continue throughout this winter and spring and will be front and center at the College’s 10th annual Academic Festival in April.
“Of course, we want to raise money for the Susan Fuhrman Scholarship itself, and people are really responding,” says , says Meghan Myers, Director of Development Strategies & Special Projects. “But at the same time, the idea of a named scholarship as a tribute to President Fuhrman really makes a statement to our community that supporting students is her top priority – and we know that she will be grateful no matter what venue people choose for doing that.”
Fuhrman confirms that assessment.
“I didn’t realize that I say ‘Thanks a million’ all the time,” she says, laughing. “So of course, after they told me about the campaign, I was very touched, and I said, ‘Thanks a million!’ So you know, I really do say it all time. And I mean it, deeply.”
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