Thomas Sobol, Shirley Ann Jackson and Lee Shulman are Convoc... | Teachers College Columbia University

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Thomas Sobol, Shirley Ann Jackson and Lee Shulman are Convocation Speakers

This year's Convocation speakers (and TC medalists) are former New York State education commissioner and TC Professor Emeritus Thomas Sobol; Shirley Ann Jackson, President of Renssaeler Polytechnic Institute and former Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and Lee Shulman, President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
This year's Convocation at Teachers College will include honorees that have been instrumental in encouraging enormous strides in educational practice, research and policy.
The Master's Convocations will take place at 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. at Riverside Church, on 120th Street and Riverside Drive.  Lee Shulman will speak at the 3:00 ceremony and Shirley Ann Jackson will speak at the 7:00 p.m. ceremony.  Both will be presented with the Teachers College Medal for Distinguished Service, the College's equivalent to an honorary degree. 

The convocation for the Teachers College doctoral degree graduates will be Wednesday, May 16, at Riverside Church.  The event will begin at 2:30 p.m.  Teachers College Professor Emeritus Thomas Sobol, former New York State Commissioner of Education, will be awarded the Teachers College Medal for Distinguished Service and will address the graduates.  Each graduate will be hooded by Teachers College Interim Academic Vice President and Dean William Baldwin.

Teachers College Medal Recipients

Dr. Thomas Sobol, Professor Emeritus and Former New York State Commissioner of Education

Sobol recently retired as TC's first Christian A. Johnson Professor of Outstanding Educational Practice, in which role he supervised the Inquiry Program, the College's largest doctoral program for public-school leaders, and oversaw the Superintendents Work Conference. In the 1990s, as New York State's Commissioner of Education, he led authorship of A New Compact for Learning: Improving Public Elementary, Middle, and Secondary Education Results, which was among the first documents to codify a state's achievement standards, including key concepts and competencies the students were required to know at different grade levels. He consciously shaped that document to offer a rationale for a legal argument that children should be given the necessary resources to succeed in school, and subsequently played a leading role in advancing just such a legal argument. Named, by virtue of his position, as a defendant in the landmark Campaign for Fiscal Equity educational adequacy suit against New York State, he asked to switch sides in the case and ultimately served as an amicus witness to the plaintiff. He subsequently enumerated, in testimony he delivered in another major adequacy suit, Williams vs. California, "core elements that are required for schooling, regardless of what a state Constitution's education provisions are interpreted to mean," including safe and sanitary facilities, adequate supplies and resources, and, above all, access to quality teaching.

Sobol recently was honored at the American Association of School Administrators with a lifetime achievement award. Though retired, he is now leading a coalition of retired and current superintendents who are trying to focus attention on key issues.

The Honorable Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D., President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson is the 18th President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, and Hartford, CT, the oldest technological research university in the U.S.. Calling her a "national treasure," the National Science Board selected her as its 2007 recipient of the prestigious Vannevar Bush Award for "a lifetime of achievements in scientific research, education, and senior statesman-like contributions to public policy."

Described by Time Magazine (2005) as "perhaps the ultimate role model for women in science," she has held senior leadership positions in government, industry, research, and academe. President Jackson is among the leading voices nationally working to address what she has described as the "quiet crisis" in the United States, as record numbers of scientists and engineers begin to retire without enough young professionals prepared to replace them. She has urged a national focus on energy research as a focal point to excite and encourage greater interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers, noting that "energy security is the space race of this millennium."

Since her arrival in 1999, Dr. Jackson has fostered an extraordinary renaissance at Rensselaer.  This institutional transformation has included the hiring of new faculty; new construction and renovation of facilities for research, teaching, and student life; a doubling of research awards; and innovations in curriculum, undergraduate research, and student life initiatives.

Dr. Jackson, a theoretical physicist, was chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (1995-1999), a research scientist at the former AT&T Bell Laboratories, and a professor of theoretical physics at Rutgers University.  She is past President (2004) and Chairman of the Board (2005) of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), a member of the National Academy of Engineering, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Physical Society, and AAAS. She serves on the Board of Directors of NYSE Euronext, the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution, and is a director of several major corporations. She has advisory roles and involvement in several other prestigious national organizations.

Dr. Jackson holds an S.B. in physics and a Ph.D. in theoretical elementary particle physics from M.I.T.

Dr. Lee Shulman, President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

He established a national reputation through his groundbreaking studies of medical reasoning and the cognitive processes involved in medical problem solving -- then followed these by conducting technical studies in the field tests that led to the creation of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. As eighth President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, he has brought to bear an expertise across varied areas and disciplines. This has enabled him to compare educational interventions to medical treatments, and to explore the rich notion that they simultaneously heal and introduce new variables into the system that trigger "cascades" of unforeseen consequences. That idea, in turn, has laid the ground for Carnegie's view that "one must always look -'upstream' to understand the current nature of problems" and that "nearly every sector of the educational system can be simultaneously viewed as both upstream and downstream."  

Shulman is past president of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) and received its career award for Distinguished Contributions to Educational Research. He is a member of the National Academy of Education, having acted as both vice president and president. He is the recipient of the American Psychological Association's 1995 E.L. Thorndike Award for Distinguished Psychological Contributions to Education, a fellow of both the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a Guggenheim Fellow, a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and has been awarded the 2006 Grawemeyer Prize in Education.

In 2004, Shulman's collected writings on teacher education and higher education were published by Jossey-Bass Inc., in two volumes, The Wisdom of Practice and Teaching as Community Property. He is one of the authors of Educating Lawyers: Preparation for the Profession of Law (Carnegie/Jossey Bass, 2007). His research has dealt with the quality of teaching and teacher education; knowledge growth among those learning to teach; the assessment of teaching; medical education; the psychology of instruction in science, mathematics and medicine; the logic of educational research; and the quality of teaching in higher education. His most recent studies emphasize the central role of a "scholarship of teaching" in supporting needed changes in the cultures of higher education, and the function and features of signature pedagogies in professional education.

Since 1990, Shulman has collaborated with Pat Hutchings and Russell Edgerton (both then at the American Association for Higher Education) on programs and research to strengthen the role of teaching in higher education. These studies have emphasized the importance of "teaching as community property" and the central role of a "scholarship of teaching" in supporting the needed changes in the cultures of higher education. Those themes remain central to the mission of the Carnegie Foundation.

Published Wednesday, Apr. 25, 2007