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Remembering TC Faculty

Robert J. Schaefer and Howard Ernest Gruber
A Dean of his Day

When Robert J. Schaefer became Dean of Teachers College in 1963, John F. Kennedy was in the White House, the Vietnam War was escalating, and the leaders of America's civil rights movement were planning the March on Washington. In education, the nation's priorities included the open classroom, with its emphasis on concern for "the other" over individual competitiveness.
Schaefer, who passed away in December at age 87, was an educator of his time. His tenure as Dean spanned the implementation of the Teachers for East Africa program; the launch of the school's first Afghanistan education project; construction of the nation's first comprehensive research and demonstration center for the education of people with disabilities; and the 1968 student riots at Columbia University. His book, The School as a Center of Inquiry, advocated open inquiry in schools as a way to avoid extreme ideological swings. Schaefer also hosted a WNBC-TV series, "Children Explore," that demonstrated teaching techniques.

Schaefer came to TC from the Graduate Institute of Education at Washington University in St. Louis. He was formerly Assistant Dean and Director of the Master of Arts in Teaching Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. A World War II veteran, Schaefer received an A.B. and M.A. from Columbia and a Ph.D. from TC in 1950.  For more, visit

Cognitive Studies Pioneer

Howard Ernest Gruber, a world-renowned psychologist and visiting faculty in TC's Department of Human Development, died on January 25 at 82. Gruber was a lifelong student of cognition widely known for his study of how Darwin processed his glimpses of natural selection into the theory of evolution. Born in Brooklyn, Gruber graduated from Brooklyn College and received his Ph.D. in psychology at Cornell. In Geneva in the 1950s, Gruber met Jean Piaget, who became a good friend and important inspiration. Gruber taught at the New School and at Rutgers University, where he founded and directed the Institute for Cognitive Studies. Beginning in 1983, he held the Piaget Chair at the University of Geneva.

Gruber co-edited The Essential Piaget, and his ground-breaking book Darwin on Man was named one of "100 Books that Shaped a Century of Science" by American Scientist. Gruber was known for his lifelong commitment to activism for peace, social justice and the environment.

Published Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2005