Susan H. Fuhrman, Authority on School Reform, Is Next President of Teachers College, Columbia University
Former public school teacher brought enhanced national stature to
Succeeds Arthur Levine on August 1; passion for "excellence and equity" seen as "ideal fit" with College's historic goals
A former public school social studies teacher, Dr. Fuhrman has served for the past 11 years as Dean of the
"I learned everything I needed to know at Teachers College," Dr. Fuhrman told a gathering of the College's faculty, staff and trustees on the eve of her formal appointment. "Walking the halls where John Dewey, Edmund Gordon, Lawrence Cremin, Maxine Greene and others walked, you couldn't fail to understand the power of ideas to change the world." She said that her agenda for the College will be about "living up to the legacy" by "engaging directly with policymakers and practitioners as they do their work, to ensure that we not only build knowledge but put it to use."
Dr. Fuhrman will take office on August 1, succeeding Arthur E. Levine, TC's president for the past 12 years, whom she praised for "unparalleled work in strengthening the College on every front and bringing glory to TC." She will become the first woman to serve as President of Teachers College.
"We are absolutely delighted with the selection of Susan Fuhrman as the next president of Teachers College," said John W. Hyland and William Rueckert, co-chairs of the College's Board of Trustees, in a joint statement. "In Dr. Fuhrman, the College is getting not only a proven leader but also a scholar of the first rank who has focused her studies on real-world issues that stand front and center in the debate over public education in
Dr. Shalala, now President of the
At Penn, an "Ethos of Engagement"
As Dean of Penn GSE, Dr. Fuhrman is widely credited with uniting a fragmented faculty and elevating the school to enhanced national stature by focusing it around the themes of urban and international education. Penn GSE was listed as seventh in the most recent U.S.
Dr. Fuhrman also broadened Penn GSE's involvement with schools in under-served communities in
Dr. Fuhrman has also presided over a significant increase in externally funded research at Penn GSE, which now boasts the highest per capita level of research funding among all of the
In a statement that called her departure "a great loss for Penn,"
Dr. Fuhrman "leaves GSE more vital and relevant than ever before," the statement said, describing her as "a true educational entrepreneur" and adding that "the depth and breadth of GSE's engagement with other disciplines and schools has also grown tremendously during Susan's tenure."
"Shoring up the Research Base"
In the worlds of education policy and research, Dr. Fuhrman is nationally known as a pragmatist who has called upon education schools to set more rigorous standards for research that can answer real-world questions.
"We cannot demonstrate that we have a sound knowledge base for teacher education, that we know how to prepare teachers well, and that our preparation is essential for good teaching," she said in a keynote speech given in 2005 at the annual meeting of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. "We must take responsibility for shoring up the research base, for providing evidence about effectiveness that will enable us to assure that our practices are sound."
Dr. Fuhrman has advanced this perspective in books such as Redesigning Accountability Systems for Education (Teachers College Press, 2004), co-edited with Richard Elmore; Designing Coherent Education Policy (Jossey Bass, 1993), and her forthcoming The State of Education Policy Research, co-edited with David K. Cohen and Frederic Mosher (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates). And as founder and leader of the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE), a joint venture of Penn GSE, Harvard, Stanford, the University of Michigan, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison that seeks to improve elementary and secondary education through research on policy, finance, school reform and school governance, she has vigorously practiced it.
In 1985, Dr. Fuhrman -- then at Rutgers University at the Eagleton Institute of Politics -- founded CPRE as the first federally-funded center created to evaluate the spate of state and local school reforms enacted following the publication of "A Nation at Risk," the report that famously highlighted the failure of American students to keep pace with their counterparts in Japan, Germany and other countries.
Comprising an extraordinary group of scholars and policymakers that, along with Dr. Fuhrman, included future U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley, Richard Elmore (now the Gregory R. Anrig Professor of Educational Leadership at Harvard) and
That vision was adopted by the National Science Foundation, which began funding state systemic initiatives in the late 1980s and 90s, and became the basis for many state reforms. It was ultimately underscored by federal reauthorizations of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
CPRE has increasingly shifted its emphasis to research on the interplay between policy and classroom instruction.
"We've recognized that policy can only take you so far -- that much of what happens in the classroom is beyond the reach of policy, and that instruction is what makes it all happen," says Dr. Fuhrman. CPRE currently is conducting a nationwide study of the way teachers use assessments of student performance.
Partnering for Educational Equity
Beyond her past ties with the institution, Dr. Fuhrman says she is drawn to Teachers College's mission of educational equity "because it has the potential to address the most pressing problems related to the gaps in education achievement, resources and teacher quality -- and to unite the faculty of the College."
As TC's president, Dr. Fuhrman says that she will actively encourage a working relationship with the
"I'd to see TC become a much bigger presence," she says. "I'd like us to engage in much more holistic, concerted, comprehensive efforts to help city schools and, to the extent that
For a full bio of Dr. Fuhrman, including her most important publications, visit www.tc.edu/fuhrman.
Teachers College is the largest graduate school of education in the nation. Teachers College is affiliated with
Teachers College is dedicated to promoting equity and excellence in education and overcoming the gap in educational access and achievement between the most and least advantaged groups in this country. Through programs of teaching, research, and service, the College draws upon the expertise of a diverse community of faculty in education, psychology and health, as well as students and staff from across the country and around the world.
For more information, please visit the college's Web site at www.tc.columbia.edu.
Published Tuesday, May. 9, 2006