News & Events


Preaching the power of eco-ministry

“Humanity has to reorient itself toward nature, and many indigenous ceremonies occur in a natural setting,” declares Karenna Gore, director of Union Theological Seminary’s Center for Earth Ethics, at TC’s Spirituality Mind Body Institute Winter Intensive. Gore, daughter of former Vice President Al Gore, calls for an interfaith dialogue reaching beyond Christianity, Judaism and Islam: “You value what you’re taught to relate to. People had been taught to greet the sunrise at a river. In the Middle Ages, that’s called satanic. The relationship to nature is broken.”

Education Leadership’s All-Star Advisory Board

Teachers College’s Education Leadership Program convenes an external advisory board that includes former TC Cahn Fellow Melessa Avery, Principal, P.S. 273, Brooklyn; alumni Martin Brooks, Executive Director, Tri-State Consortium; Christopher Clouet (Ed.D. ’96), Superintendent of Schools in Shelton, Connecticut; Kristy DelaCruz (Ed.D. ’17, M.Ed. ’06), Deputy Superintendent, New York City Department of Education; John B. King, Jr. (Ed.D. ’08), President and CEO of The Education Trust and former U.S. Secretary of Education; and Amani Reed (M.A. ’07), Head of The School at Columbia.  

A new VP for Finance & Administration

JoAnne Williams becomes TC’s new Vice President for Finance & Administration. Most recently Vice Dean for Administration at Rutgers University’s School of Arts & Sciences in New Brunswick, New Jersey, Williams previously worked in private industry handling issues related to product development and research, intellectual property rights, initial public offerings, computer-aided engineering design and business ventures worldwide. “‘Teachers College’ is a bit of a misnomer, because there is so much other wonderful stuff going on here,” Williams says, adding that the common thread is “a real desire to do intentional things to improve the world.” 

Mourning Pearl Rock Kane

In February , TC lost one of its most beloved figures — pearl Rock Kane, former Director of TC's Klingenstein Center for Independent School Leadership. Kane, who served in that role for 37 years and received TC's President's Medal of Excellence in 2018, was hailed by President Thomas Bailey for "her humanity, decency, vision and love."


A Chemistry Nobel Laureate Credits His Success to Failure

Columbia University Nobel Laureate Martin Chalfie delivers the inaugural Yu Panglin Lecture of TC’s Education for Persistence and Innovation Center (EPIC). Founded by Xiaodong-Lin Siegler, Professor of Cognitive Studies, EPIC studies failure as a catalyst for innovation and success. Chalfie, who produced a biological marker for gene expression that revolutionized biological, medical and pharmaceutical research, calls failure “part of the process of discovering nature and the world around us.” Chalfie’s lecture follows a ceremony in which TC President Thomas Bailey and Dennis Pang, Chairman of the China-based Yu Panglin Charitable Trust, expanded the Trust’s partnership with EPIC. 

A Week of Thank-Yous to TC’s Faculty

TC’s first-ever Faculty Appreciation Week yields more than 140 online testimonials in which students and alumni thank professors for everything from setting high expectations to hand-holding during the dissertation process. “You once asked us, ‘What is your superpower?’” writes one student to her faculty mentor. “Thank you for sharing your superpower, and challenging us to find the power within ourselves.”

"Creating Pathways for All to Flourish": Academic Festival 2019

Teachers College screens the documentary Personal Statement, about Brooklyn high school students who served as college guidance counselors, at TC’s 11th Academic Festival, “Creating Pathways for All to Flourish.” After the screening, the film’s director, Juliane Dressner, and two of the featured students, Enoch Jemmott and Christine Rodriguez, speak as part of a panel discussion. Academic Festival also includes a panel on newer Americans’ self-advocacy, student technology and research poster competitions, and TC’s first Minority Postdoctoral Fellow Lecture.

Also at Academic Festival:

Thomas James, concluding 12 years as the College’s Provost, Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs, receives a special proclamation of gratitude from the Teachers College Alumni Council. James, who remains at TC as Professor of History & Education and co-director (with Ansley Erickson) of the Center on History and Education, is cited for his “timeless and invaluable contributions to the intellectual and community life of Teachers College.”

TC presents Distinguished Alumni Awards to Bruce Ballard (Ed.D. ’94), teacher and World Parkinson Congress blogger; Fanshen Cox (M.A. ’97), whose one-woman show, One Drop of Love, explores her family’s search for identity and justice; and Denny Taylor (Ed.D. ’81), creator of the field of family literacy. Early Career Awards go to Tony Alleyne (M.A. ’10), founding director of Delaware College Scholars, which supports promising underserved students; Kim Baranowski (Ph.D. ’14), Associate Director of the Mount Sinai Human Rights Program, which conducts forensic psychological evaluations for U.S. asylum seekers; and Hakim Mohandas Amani Williams (Ed.D. ’12), Gettysburg College’s Director of Peace & Justice Studies and shaper of a new critical peace education. Lisa Edstrom (Ed.D. ’18), a Barnard lecturer, receives TC’s Shirley Chisholm Dissertation Award. Joohee Son (Ed.D. ’13), TC Korean Alumni Association President, receives the College’s inaugural Alumni Award for Outstanding Service. And prison abolitionist Mariame Kaba and TC doctoral candidate Ahram Park (M.Ed. ’19) are honored by TC’s Morton Deutsch International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution.

Promoting Survival of the Fittest — and of the Not-so

The College formally opens its new EXerT Clinic & Applied Physiology Lab in 528 West 121st St.. Directed by Carol Ewing Garber, Professor of Movement Sciences, EXerT boasts stethoscopes, blood pressure sleeves, digital scales, treadmills and an advanced Body Composition Analyzer (mBCA), which measures Body Mass Index via electrical impulses transmitted through the feet. A venue for cutting-edge research that has evaluated Olympic-caliber men’s and women’s rowing teams, EXerT also welcomes the TC community each week for health screenings and counseling.

Beyond the Basics: Sex Ed that Explores Parenting Choices

Thanks to additional funding from donor Mary Edlow (M.A. ’67), the Teachers College Sex Education Initiative refines its curriculum and trains its second cohort of sex educators in New York City schools. The initiative, headed by clinical psychology faculty member Aurélie Athan (Ph.D. ’11), takes sex education beyond teaching biology and safe practices to addressing subtle psychological factors such as how different families and cultures influence the issue of becoming a parent.

Convocation 2019

President Thomas Bailey tells TC’s 2019 graduates that “you — more than any other group of professionals — will guide the next generation onto the path toward mutual understanding and mutual respect.”

At the first master’s degree ceremonyMichelle Fine (Ph.D. ’80, M.Phil. ’79, M.A. ’78), Distinguished Professor at the CUNY Graduate Center, urges graduates of the Departments of Arts & Humanities, Curriculum & Teaching, and Mathematics, Science & Technology to “speak, act, disrupt, challenge, critique and help curate and birth images of what could be, to plant a seed of radical possibility.”  

Alexander I. Wojcik, receiving his M.Ed. in Philosophy & Education, offers a vision of educators as facilitators rather than miracle workers: “Our purpose is to ensure that our students are the super heroes.”  

At the second master’s degree ceremonyRosie Phillips Davis, President of the American Psychological Association and Professor of Counseling Psychology at the University of Memphis, challenges graduates of the Departments of Biobehavioral SciencesCounseling & Clinical PsychologyEducation Policy & Social Analysis and Health & Behavior Studies to “ask yourself if what you’re doing will make a difference to the poor people in the world.” Alluding to TC’s founder, Davis, the daughter of sharecroppers, asserts that “the world does really need a lot of you to be rich — we need a few more Grace Dodges who use their money for good.”  

Damonta D. Morgan, receiving his master’s degree in Education Policy, declares that “now it’s time to act. Now, because there are children and families in cages whose only mistake was to be born at the wrong intersection of longitude and latitude.”

At the third master’s degree ceremonySarita Brown, Co-Founding Director of Excelencia in Education, which advocates for LatinX young people in higher education and the job market, urges graduates of the Departments of Human DevelopmentOrganization & Leadership and International & Transcultural Studies to “make it count,” adding that “what each of you does right now matters. It always has. But right now, it feels like it matters more.”

Jacquada A. Gray II (M.A., Higher & Postsecondary Education), a first-generation graduate, declares that “we are our ancestors’ wildest dreams. Many of us were told that we were not good enough, smart enough, or even composed enough to be successful in such a space. But all past obstacles and naysayers make this moment that much more meaningful.”

And Barbara Morgan, who in 2007 became the first U.S. teacher in space, tells doctoral graduates that “the sky will be no limit” for all the communities who will be touched by their work. In the wake of the 1986 Challenger space shuttle disaster, she recalls, NASA identified what went wrong, including its own mistakes. “Then, we fixed it. We made it better and we kept the future open. Doctoral candidates, that’s what you are all going to be doing — keeping the future open.”



Celebrating 30 Years of Jaffe Peace Corps Fellows

At a celebration of 30 years of support by TC Trustee Emeritus Elliot Jaffe and his wife, Roslyn, for the College’s Peace Corps Fellows Program — a master’s degree program that prepares Returned Peace Corps Volunteers to teach in under-resourced New York City public schools — national Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen presents a ceremonial bell, which now hangs in Zankel lobby. The Jaffes have generously supported more than 750 Jaffe Peace Corps Fellows, and their total giving to TC stands at $5.4 million. Their daughter-in-law, Helen Jaffe, who joined TC’s Board in 2017, has also become involved in the Peace Corps Fellows.

A New Academic Leader

Stephanie J. Rowley, a prominent educational psychologist and multidisciplinary research administrator, becomes the College’s Provost, Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs. TC President Thomas Bailey calls Rowley, who most recently served as Associate Vice President for Research at the University of Michigan (U-M), “a consummate institution builder with a record of success in uniting great minds to develop innovative approaches and solutions to society’s pressing challenges.” Rowley says she was drawn to TC by “the possibilities for combining multidisciplinary strengths,” and because “TC has so many visible and highly engaged scholars.”  

Tracing the Roots of Inequity

American public education is failing black and brown children because “disparity is baked into our society,” declares the pedagogical theorist and teacher educator Gloria Ladson-Billings in delivering TC’s annual Edmund W. Gordon Lecture. Furthermore, northern states have been as complicit as their southern counterparts in maintaining racial inequity, argues Ladson-Billings, Professor Emerita and former Kellner Family Distinguished Professor in Urban Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Although there were no laws on the books mandating separate schools, Northern states took advantage of restrictive covenants and proliferation of community-destroying interstates to create geographic barriers between whites and blacks.”

A Portrait of a TC Icon

TC honors Edmund W. Gordon, the College’s 98-year-old Richard March Hoe Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Education and founder of its Institute for Urban & Minority Education (IUME), with a formal unveiling of his portrait. Gordon’s career stretches from his contributions to the first Elementary and Secondary Education Act in the 1960s to his continuing efforts today to promote educational testing that actually aids learning. President Thomas Bailey calls the portrait, by Columbia University photographer Bruce Gilbert, “a formal, permanent affirmation” that Gordon’s “beliefs, ideas, methods and monumental accomplishments . . . are fundamental” to TC’s “highest ideals of what it aspires to be.” 

Belated Honors for a Pioneering Black Educator

Vicksburg, Mississippi, celebrates the late Jane Ellen McAllister (Ph.D. ’29), whose graduation from Teachers College made her the first black woman in the United States to receive a doctorate in Education. McAllister subsequently wrote widely on teacher education, taught and mentored generations of students, and launched innovative programs at several southern colleges and universities. At the unveiling of a Mississippi state Historical Marker in front of her former home, Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs reads aloud a proclamation signed by TC President Thomas Bailey that declares McAllister “a Teachers College hero who embodied the College’s values, beliefs and aspirations.”

Honoring Justine Joan Sheppard

In July, TC's Edward D. Mysak Clinic for Communication Disorders hosted the Justine Joan Sheppard Memorial Conference, devoted to dysphagia in pediatric  patients  and adults with intellectual disabilities.  Afterward, a memorial was held for Sheppard, a longtime TC faculty member who was a pioneer in the study and treatment of swallowing disorders.


The Doctor Is Still In

In June, TC screened the new Hulu documentary about the life of alumna Dr. Ruth Westheimer (Ed.D. '70), in which she recalls her escape from Nazi Germany as a child and revisits the children's home in Switzerland where she spent her teen years. Afterward, the pioneering sex therapist, who at 91 continues to enjoy a huge following, spoke on stage with her TC mentor and longtime friend, Hope Leichter, Elbenwood Professor of Education, and answered questions from the audience. Westheimer said that her father taught her that "nobody can take education from you" — and that, she said "is what Teachers College is all about."



Talking in Class

On Constitution Day, University of Pennsylvania political scientist Sigal Ben-Porath explores factors that are endangering the status of freedom of speech in American classrooms. Ben-Porath, author of Free Speech on Campus, cites the growing diversity of society and group norms; the emergence of “landslide districts” with little ideological diversity; and movement by the major parties’ cores toward the outer extremes. Her takeaway: “We have to operate within the law’s boundaries, but our institutional norms are actually more limited than the law. We need to expand that understanding.”

A Topic that Pushes Buttons

Is artificial intelligence (AI) education’s next “killer app” or simply overhyped? Will it close the achievement gap or deepen inequities? And what if, as Columbia University roboticist Hod Lipson predicts, AI develops free will and emotions? At a TC conference co-supported by the Qatar Foundation’s World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), Lipson extolls a field that is enabling self-driving cars. Paulo Blikstein, TC Associate Professor of Communication, Media & Learning Technologies Design, decries “the mythology that Silicon Valley has created about technology being intrinsically benign.” And Sandra Okita, Associate Professor of Technology & Education, reflects that “tools are just objects, unless used purposefully. The key is what relationship you develop with them.” 

Translating Comparative Education

Gathering at TC for a “South-North Dialogue,” experts on Latin American education policy challenge the prevailing analytical frameworks employed by comparative education scholars — including “The World’s Best Performing Education Systems,” an annual ranking that regularly excludes major regions of the world. Organizer Regina Cortina, Professor of Education, calls for policy makers and education leaders to question “the initial knowledge system upon which educational systems were built.” 

Allies in Learning

Teachers College and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Eisenhower Leader Development Program (ELDP), through which nearly 300 of West Point’s Tactical Officers, who supervise cadets and integrate their education and training, have earned TC master’s degrees. The Benavidez Leader Development Program, a sister program launched in 2015, equips non-commissioned TAC officers with the key theories taught in ELDP. “West Point and TC share a mission to maximize learning,” asserts President Thomas Bailey, “both of individuals and organizations, in the pursuit of a better world.”

Recalling the Unspeakable to Prevent Its Recurrence

Amra Sabic-El-Rayess, Associate Professor of Practice in the Department of Education Policy & Social Analysis, delivers TC’s inaugural Charo Uceda Women’s Empowerment Lecture. In recalling her experiences as a Bosnian Muslim who fled the former Yugoslavia as a teenager, Sabic-El-Rayess says she not only honors friends, classmates and relatives who were raped, killed and tortured, but seeks to illuminate the current plight of others worldwide: “I hope that you will no longer see ‘Mexican migrants’ or ‘Muslim refugees,’ but human beings with courage and resilience.” The Uceda Women’s Empowerment Lecture series is endowed by TC alumna Charo Uceda (M.A. ’08).

Sounding a Call of “Excellence for All”

“Talent, entrepreneurship and the desire and drive to do great things are givens in our community,” declares President Thomas Bailey in his first State of the College Address, and “individual innovation and creativity are in the DNA of Teachers College.” But to an excessive degree, “our excellence relies on the initiative of individual faculty, staff and students” — a barrier that must be overcome “if we want to reach the potential of our ability to contribute significantly to building a better world.”

To that end, Bailey announces plans to:

  • Consolidate departments and regroup programs in order to enhance collaboration and reduce administrative burdens on faculty.
  • Bolster outside funding for faculty research.
  • Create “clearer and better-supported career pathways for students.”
  • Enhance professional development for TC staff.
  • Transform the College’s Gottesman Libraries into a “dynamic center for digital pedagogy and research.”
  • Enhance diversity and the working climate at TC — an initiative that includes the establishment of a Teachers College Diversity Scholarship to attract and support low-income and historically underrepresented students.

Teaching to Children’s Spiritual Core

At the TC-hosted conference “The Next Wave in K–12 Education: The Spiritual Core of the Whole Child,” heads of independent schools gather to address what Lisa Miller, Professor of Psychology & Education and founding president of the Teachers College-based Collaborative for Spirituality in Education, calls “a culture where often enormous amounts of money, empty fame and cynicism have become toxic dominant values” and “our children need us to support their quest for a spiritually grounded life.” The speakers include philanthropist and academic Stephen C. Rockefeller, who coordinated the drafting of the Earth Charter for the Earth Charter Commission and Earth Council; Timothy Shriver, co-founder and Chair of the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) and Chair of the International Board of Directors of Special Olympics; and John (Jack) Miller, University of Toronto education professor and co-editor of the International Handbook of Holistic Education.

Still Fighting to Make “Assessment” Synonymous with “Learning”

TC psychology professor emeritus Edmund W. Gordon, 98, chairs a major conference on shifting the function of assessment from measurement and ranking to improving teaching and learning. The speakers include contributors to Gordon’s newest book, Human Variance and Assessment for LearningThe event is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the National Urban League, Teachers College’s Institute for Urban and Minority Education (IUME), which Gordon founded in 1973, and the CEJJES Institute, a cultural, educational and research foundation founded by Gordon and his late wife, the physician Susan Gordon. 

How Hate is Backfiring in the Heartlands

In a talk at Teachers College, Jonathan Metzl, author of Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America’s Heartland, argues that racial animus explains the overwhelming support of whites in heartland states for legislation that has contributed to the increase in suicides involving guns; burgeoning obesity, diabetes and heart disease; and plummeting student test scores — trends that have particularly hurt whites themselves. Metzl, the Frederick B. Rentschler II Professor of Sociology & Psychiatry and Director of the Center for Medicine, Health & Society at Vanderbilt University, believes that “there are a lot of white people who don’t ascribe” to racist views but lack the language to articulate their feelings or a better way.

Accelerating Efforts to Get Community College Students Up to Speed

The Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness (co-led by TC’s Community College Research Center) hosts Reimagining Developmental Education — a summit on the state of efforts to integrate underprepared students into college-level courses and see them successfully through their studies. Keynote speaker Thomas Bailey, TC’s President, traces the evolution of developmental education — including growing awareness that its tools have often been counter-productive — and frames a need for coordinated approaches to change. He urges supplementing current improvements with financial incentives, extra academic assistance and structured advising on courses and careers.

The African Diaspora on the Silver Screen

The 27th annual African Diaspora International Film Festival (ADIFF), featuring 59 films from around the world, opens in New York City, with Teachers College again hosting many screenings. This year’s offerings include Ali’s Comeback: The Untold Story, about boxing’s blacklist against the late champion; Marighella, about the Afro-Brazilian poet and politician Carlos Marighella; and Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool, a documentary about the great horn player and bandleader. ADIFF is co-sponsored by TC’s Office of the Vice President for Diversity & Community Affairs.

The Civic Education Lawsuit: Round One in Rhode Island

Attorneys for the state of Rhode Island concede in Federal Court that, under some “extreme” circumstances, the federal constitution may provide students a right to education. The concession comes under questioning from the federal judge overseeing an important education rights lawsuit filed in November 2018 on behalf of students and their parents by Michael Rebell, Professor of Law & Educational Practice and Executive Director of TC’s Center for Educational Equity. The suit asserts that American students have a right under the U.S. Constitution to an education that prepares them to be capable citizens. Rebell says that ultimately the matter may be appealed to the Supreme Court.

A Scholarship for Displaced Students

Columbia University announces a Scholarship for Displaced Students that will annually provide tuition, housing and living assistance for up to 30 students — including one at Teachers College — who are pursuing undergraduate or graduate degrees across all 18 Columbia schools and affiliate institutions. At TC, the scholarship will be offered to a student pursuing a Master of Arts degree in the International & Comparative Education program. This University-wide scholarship is unprecedented in Columbia’s history and is the first such initiative in the world.

A Public Health Agenda to Address Slavery’s Legacy

At an “acknowledgement event” of 1619 — the year Africans were first kidnapped and brought to the new world as slaves — and its 400-year aftermath, organizer Barbara Wallace, Professor of Health Education and Director of TC’s Center for Health Equity & Urban Science Education, speaks on “The U.S. Culture of Violence and Racial Cultural Skill Acquisition for Coping with the Stress of Racism.” Everyone, Wallace argues, from youth to police officers, needs training in “cultural humility,” or how to act with feelings of respect and empathy toward others from all backgrounds. Those enduring racism must also find a way to let go of feelings of anger, helplessness and paranoia, “because we enter into chronic states of psychological and physical arousal, and that affects our health.”

Randi Weingarten Speaks “In Defense of Education”

Randi Weingarten, President of the 1.7 million-member American Federation of Teachers (AFL-CIO), headlines “an evening of provocative conversation” hosted by TC’s Center for the Professional Education of Teachers (CPET). Interviewed onstage in Cowin Auditorium by Zak Ringelstein, a TC doctoral student in Politics & Education who was the Democratic nominee for Senate in Maine in 2018, Weingarten accuses President Donald Trump and his education secretary, Betsy DeVos, of not caring about public education. Weingarten argues that local communities are realizing that “teachers want what students need” and says that while teacher strikes have been effective, “if we don’t win elections, we go back to fighting just to stand still — and I’m really tired of standing still.” 

Celebrating Harold Noah

TC celebrates the life and work of Harold Noah (Ph.D. ’64), the late Professor Emeritus of Comparative Education and Economics & Education, and former TC dean. Speakers at the gathering organized by Gita Steiner-Khamsi, Professor of Education, include TC President Thomas Bailey; former President Susan Fuhrman; education historian Diane Ravitch (Ph.D. ’75); Professor Emeritus Robbie McClintock; and W. Warner Burke, E.L. Thorndike Professor of Psychology & Education; as well Noah’s two sons, David and Adam. Noah is credited with shifting the field of comparative education toward quantitative methodologies drawn from political science, economics and sociology.

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