Future of TC and Plans for this Year
Recently, a public school in Queens held Family Math Night, a night dedicated to get parents and kids to embrace mathematics as something that is fun to do and can be done as a family -- which kind of sounds like a kid's nightmare. But the 75 attendees of the night were immersed in a carnival like atmosphere and explored things like Venn diagrams, Tangrams and Twister. The event has grown from a program called EQUALS, founded at UC Berkeley in the 1980s.
President Arthur Levine: Background The world of higher education is changing quickly and profoundly. There are for-profit colleges like the University of Phoenix, which is the largest private college in the country, regionally accredited, and traded on NASDAQ. There are on-line universities like UNext, which is offering an MBA degree through the Internet; Kaplan, which has an on-line law school; and Jones University, which offers a cornucopia of degrees and is also regionally accredited. Harcourt Brace, the publisher, has established Harcourt University. And the British Open University, which offers degrees in 110 countries, has created an American branch. As I have told you again and again, TC receives offers daily from publishers, television, libraries, cultural institutions, hardware companies, venture firms, start-up companies, and anyone else you can think of to become partners in developing on-line education and services. We live in a world of postsecondary education that will include not-for-profit public and private colleges; for-profit universities; corporate universities (more than 1000 already); municipal, state, regional, national and international universities; and an assortment of entrepreneurial initiatives. There will be brick universities, traditional campus based colleges. There will be click institutions, on-line colleges and universities. And there will be brick and click universities, which combine the two. In this environment, what should be the future of Teachers College? At a faculty meeting last Spring we debated two alternatives. Professor Herve Varenne made the case for the historic university and Professor Gary Natriello called for a new university to meet the needs of the future. Professor Varenne spoke of the historic ideal of the university as an enduring legacy to be cherished. It is a university which has been with us since the rise of the German University in the eighteenth century and the first American research university, Johns Hopkins, in 1876. This is the vision of the university which attracted most of the contemporary faculty to academe. It is a university rooted in autonomy from social and commercial control. It is a university committed to the principal of academic freedom in teaching and research. It is dedicated to educating our students via apprenticeship in a community of scholars. It has in varying degree been active in applying knowledge to social problems and issues, ranging from the economist Thorsten Veblen who called for a prohibition to President Charles Van Hise of the University of Wisconsin who called the entire state and all of its agencies the college campus. Professor Natriello's model was a university designed for an information society, meeting the needs of the marketplace, capable of competing with the raft of new for-profit education providers, providing low cost education utilizing new technologies, and educating legions of students. This is a fantastic university in the sense that it has never been created. So which model should Teachers College embrace? My answer is both. I pray that we are never forced to choose one. TC today and historically is rooted in the first model. At our best, we are engaged in the three historic missions of higher education- teaching, research, and service. The ideal central elements of our university are · A faculty of the most outstanding teacher scholars · A world class student body · An education characterized by close interaction and apprenticeship between faculty and student · Scholarship which informs the thinking and action of our students, colleagues, practitioners, policy makers, and the public This is TC as a brick university, a first rate graduate school. For us to succeed in this role in a world of higher education characterized by a multiplicity of choices, we have to be better as a brick university than we ever were before. If students are going to choose to come to our campus and spend time at TC rather than studying on-line, the college must insure the most able faculty and students and close interaction between them. This means TC will need over time to: · Reduce the number of students and the student/faculty ratios at the college. We are the largest elite graduate school of education in the country and our student/faculty ratios are significantly higher than any comparable graduate school. · Increase financial aid to students. At the moment, we are able to provide very partial support to only 40% of our students. We lose too many students to institutions that are able to provide full tuition and stipends to our students. · Reduce dependence on tuition. Today 81% of the TC budget is derived from tuition revenue, meaning that the primary means for raising revenues is either increasing enrollment or raising tuition. We need to develop other sources of revenue. · Make the principal priority of the college attracting and retaining the best minds in the world to the faculty. This will become a growing challenge in an increasingly large and diverse postsecondary world competing for intellectual capital. · Create a rich and active intellectual community, which beckons students and faculty to come to and remain at TC. Develop the plant, services, technology and library to support that community. At the same time, we must recognize that the world around us has been transformed. We live in an information society in which jobs demand more education and that education must continue throughout a lifetime as the half-life of knowledge is getting shorter and shorter. Demographically, the majority of college students are older, part-time, and working as is the case at TC. There are new technologies, which enable higher education to reach larger audiences than ever before. We have been presented with the largest megaphone in the history of the world. The private sector is entering higher education at an astounding pace, viewing colleges and universities as the next healthcare. That is, an industry characterized by high cost, low productivity, bad management and low use of technology. And there is a convergence among knowledge producing organizations- publishers, television, libraries, museums, and colleges among others. All are trying to reach larger audiences and using new technologies to make that possible. In short, they are all producing products that look like courses. In this environment, Teachers College is being offered three opportunities. First, it is possible to extend the influence of Teachers College. Each year, Professor Tom Sobol brings 50 or 60 school superintendents to the college. It is now possible to reach all 15,000 of the nation's superintendents via the Internet. We can serve more children by offering successful programs like the First Year Teachers Program, which reduced attrition in a Brooklyn school district from over half to 10%, to schools and school districts across the country. Second, we are being presented with an opportunity to protect our campus and our historic mission from the army of new competitors. What I fear most is that the new competitors care only about the profitable function of teaching. If they are successful, this could lead to an unbundling of teaching from the unprofitable activities of research and service. For the good of the nation these activities must not be separated. Third, this new world provides a potential opportunity for TC to develop additional revenue streams which would reduce tuition dependence and support the prized activities on the traditional campus. This is the world that Gary Natriello spoke about. TC must be able to live in this environment as comfortably as it does in the historic brick or campus world. Toward this end, we have created Teachers College Ventures (TCV). The search committee, consisting of faculty, administrators, and trustees including Beverly Chell, Pat Cloherty, Antonia Grumbach, and Jack Hyland, has found a director for TCV after a one-year search. Peter Cookson former Center for Educational Outreach and Innovation (CEOI) director, will be returning from Texas to become TCV president. CEOI is also a vehicle for entering this new environment. It has served as a research and development unit for the college, creating such initiatives as the First Year Teachers Program. It was also the pioneer in launching on-line courses for the college. This term we will be offering sixty. The Natriello notion of a university has for TC been an experiment. By this I mean it has been an add-on, not a replacement for the traditional campus. It is being funded with grants and gifts rather than TC operating dollars. We are incubating the future. Quality will be the key to success in both the Varenne and Natriello models. Failure to achieve excellence in either diminishes both. Priorities 1999- 00 Over the past six years, our primary focus has been on strengthening the historic brick university. Last year our priorities were the following: · Continuing to develop or strengthen the academic program This meant searches for 21 new faculty, an early retirement program for selected faculty, and the implementation of the five-year plans for the nine new academic departments. · Publicly launching a $140 million capital campaign The campaign now stands at gifts and pledges of $87 million with goal of achieving $90 million by the end of November. The campaign is designed to support physical plant refurbishment, financial aid, and faculty and program support. · Introducing a major diversity initiative During summer of 1999, I created a TC-wide task force to produce a report on conditions of diversity and community at the college with recommendations for future goals and initiatives. The committee report was discussed in every major college governance group this past year- the general faculty, department chairs, faculty executive committee, the board of trustees, student government, professional staff, union staff, senior staff, midlevel managers, and the alumni association. I was disappointed that we did not get further than conversation. My hope is that this year the conversations will lead to institution-wide definitive plans. Even so, this year we conducted a search for an assistant to the president for diversity and community. Janice Robinson, an attorney and assistant dean of Rutgers Law School, accepted the position and will join us in December. We are also conducting a search for a leader for one of the historically important research centers at the college, the Institute on Urban and Minority Education. It will focus initially on the achievement gap between majorities and minorities. Additionally, the college under the leadership of Edmund Gordon reinvigorated our Target of Opportunity program, which seeks to attract excellent faculty to TC who happen to be of color. In 12 prior years, we managed to recruit one such faculty member. This year we managed to hire one additional faculty member and are in the process of recruiting two others. Finally we are working with faculty to aid them in adding diversity issues to their courses, where appropriate. · Developing the library of the 21st Century This past year, owing to a gift from Ruth and Sandy Gottesman, we began the process of planning what TC's library can and will need to become. · Expanding New Technologies The focus was on several initiatives- developing intellectual property policies for the college, recruiting a director for TC ventures, and hiring an individual to work with the faculty on expanding their technology skills. · Improving the physical plant This year improvements included faculty offices, classrooms, the Grace Dodge rooms, the front entrance of the college, the Everett lounge and the gym, which was turned into additional offices and a classroom. There is a serious space shortage at the college · Improving administrative services and initiating strategic planning These are two activities I put on the agenda for 1999-00, but the agenda was so very large, we did not manage to accomplish them. Priorities 2000- 01 This year's priorities flow directly from last year's. · In terms of academic development, the major issue this year is recruiting an Academic Vice President. A search committee composed of faculty, staff, administrators, and students has been created and the search firm, Isaacson and Miller has been hired. Edmund Gordon is doing an excellent job as interim dean. Karen Zumwalt has begun a one-year sabbatical. Once again the other academic priorities will be faculty hiring and implementing the five-year plans. · The capital campaign will continue. The details can be found in the report that follows by the Vice President for Development. This is taking an increasing proportion of my time. · The library planning moves from an exploration of the future of libraries to the physical planning of our library. · Physical plant improvement will include the planning of the new dormitory and conference center on 121st St., classrooms and offices, completion of the Grace Dodge rooms, and starting work on the Chapel and Horace Mann auditoriums, among other projects. · Under the leadership of Peter Cookson, we will begin TC Ventures. The offices will be located on 120 Street and Riverside and a search will commence immediately for a chief financial officer. A committee on intellectual property is due to make recommendations to the college community this year. · As for diversity, Janice Robinson will soon be on board and we will continue our conversations on goals and recommendations for TC as well as our efforts with regard to Target of Opportunity and the Institute of Urban and Minority Education. · Other items are being developed for our agenda this year- the care and support of junior faculty, the quality of student life and community at the college, research incentives and support for faculty, and the development of sources of revenue beyond tuition for the college. · Two items from last year's agenda will be postponed for an additional year- strategic planning and administrative service improvement. Both will have to wait until we have an academic vice president in place. This 2000- 01 agenda is intended to strengthen TC's brick campus and move the college into a new technological environment. We must prepare to live in both the worlds of Professors Varenne and Natriello.
Published Tuesday, Sep. 18, 2001