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Strength on the Board

A look at TC's four new Trustees and what makes them tick.

The Chief Financial Officer of the New York Stock Exchange. A leading investment strategist and philanthropist. A psychotherapist who graduated from the College. A major legislative advocate for educational and non-profit institutions.

These are the four new Trustees that Teachers College recently welcomed to its Board. Inside sat down with each to talk about the College, the Board and education in America.

Amy Butte

Chief Financial Officer, New York Stock Exchange

Why did you want to become a TC Trustee?

"I was drawn by the quality of the Board and the passion and practicality of the President. On a more personal level, I have been fortunate enough to have access to many resources and people in my life, and I was looking for a place where I could give back and contribute to the New York community.  The combination of Arthur Levine, New York City and education made TC a perfect fit."

What do you see as the most important role for TC's Trustees? 

"We can make an impact by serving as a bridge of communication and a
shared resource between the College and our respective communities."

What do you value most about education?

"My family always prioritized education-both inside and outside the classroom. I attended Ivy League institutions for undergraduate and graduate work, but I am first and foremost a product of the public school system outside Detroit, where I grew up. It's amazing how I can still remember the names and faces of all my elementary school teachers-and most of those in middle and high school! The teachers that encouraged my curiosity, thirst for learning and active involvement taught me important lessons that were not in the formal curriculum. Those are the lessons that I draw upon every day."

What educational issues are most important to you?

"Providing equal access to quality teachers, facilities and other resources is the most critical issue facing today's education system. I would also like to see practical education continue to become a part of the broader and more traditional curriculum-particularly financial literacy. Perhaps because of my Wall Street experience, I appreciate how financial responsibility is moving further into the hands of the individual through defined contribution plans and possibly even new social security vehicles. Knowing how our financial structures work is a critical building block for people in any profession or geography, yet many people still lack even a basic understanding."

Abby O'Neill

Chairman, Rockefeller & Co. Inc.

Why did you want to become a TC trustee?

"My family and I have been involved in education for many years, so Teachers College was a natural fit for me. I was also part of the Board that chose Arthur Levine to be the President of Bradford College in Massachusetts, so my friendship and long working relationship with Arthur drew me here as well. And finally, while I was on the Board of International House, I got to know many students, including some from Teachers College, and I saw how TC developed its students into extraordinary teachers. So I was thrilled to join this Board of Trustees."

What do you see as the most important role for TC's trustees? 

"We bring a diverse set of skills, experiences and perspectives to bear on the problems and opportunities that face the College. The Board should act as counselors, advisors and a forum for growth and change."  

What do you value most about education?

"On the most basic level, knowing how to read and write allows people to know their rights as well as their possibilities. More broadly, without education, people cannot participate in their civic, social or business lives."

What educational issues are most important to you?

"I have a passion for early childhood education because I believe the real challenge is to help teachers go beyond students' basic needs and inspire them. To do that, we need to engage children in education as early as possible by providing them the opportunity to start learning before they go to pre-school. I am involved in the programs of local organizations that encourage reading, because taking the time to read to children makes a huge difference in their lives."

Dailey Pattee

Psychotherapist, Department of Psychiatry, Inpatient Units, New York Presbyterian Hospital

What drew you to Teachers College?

"I got my Ph.D. here in Clinical Psychology, and through the encouragement of my professors and colleagues, realized my dream of becoming a psychotherapist. During the nine years I studied at TC-first in anthropology, then in psychology-I got to know the College well. I was taking care of three children while pursuing my degree at night, and in addition to making the subject matter relevant to every person in the room, my professors showed a striking commitment to students and a willingness to accommodate to the realities of our lives."

How do you think TC Trustees can shape the College?

"We make sure the mission and vision is executed on every level.  We also help to make sure that the College is run well financially. It's a joy to know the staff members and work with them. We get to see their projects and put a little piece of our hearts into them."

What do you value most about education?

"I feel that it is important to teach children about the arts and expose them to music and theater. Because we need to realize that learning in certain environments can be challenging, especially for certain socioeconomic groups, and we can't solve these problems with standardized tests. Part of the job of schools is to foster emotional resources that children can tap into when things don't work out."

What educational issues are most important to you?

"I'm interested in urban education and how we can provide good schooling to all children, especially those with complicated lives. I'm especially concerned with finding ways to help children experience school as a safe environment in which they can learn."

Jay Urwitz,

Partner, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP

Why did you become a Teachers College Trustee? 

"TC is very involved in core educational issues-how students learn, how to close educational gaps and how to enhance the joy of learning-even as it is grounded in the realities of what's going on in the classroom. Few other education schools have that breadth of focus. Also, TC is unique in being both a freestanding graduate school of education and associated with a major university. Education schools that are not as independent may have to mediate with other parts of their university to get their needs met, while wholly freestanding schools may lack the resources and scope that TC has by being associated with Columbia."

What do you see as the role of TC's Trustees?

"As Trustees, we add our expertise to that of faculty and administrators. I would like to add my own experience in education policy to TC's Board. I've worked in Washington, D.C., on public policy issues, most importantly education issues. I've also represented educational research institutions and the education industry. Also, TC has a fabulous faculty that is working in various areas. I'd like to help spread the word about the great things that TC is doing in the education world in whatever way I can."

What do you value most about education?

"Throughout my schooling, I learned analytical skills that I use in every element of my life. Another important part of education is learning how to work with other people. I've learned when to say something and when not to, when to take the lead and when to let others go ahead. My educational experience allowed me to experience a wide range of opportunities in my career.  More broadly, education is the best way to make a difference in a person's life and in society as a whole. It allows people from a broad range of backgrounds to create common sensibilities while being sensitive to people's cultures and aspirations."

What educational issues are most important to you?

"We need to provide the best educational training and techniques for people who are teachers and who want to become teachers. We need to help all students to be the best they can be, especially those who are disadvantaged in other areas of their lives. Yet even as education becomes more important, there are extraordinary changes going on that are making it more difficult to deliver. As the population ages, there will be fewer children and more older people.  The support for education will be more challenging to attain because many people won't have children in the schools. There will be more demand for resources to support older people. We will need to figure out where education stands in federal, state and local governments."  

Published Monday, May. 2, 2005