TC At Work: Mark Gadsden | Teachers College Columbia University

Skip to content Skip to main navigation

TC At Work: Mark Gadsden

Mark Gadsden, a Public Safety Officer and a Fire Safety Director at TC, has published two books--one of which chronicles his experiences as a peacekeeper and watchman at some of New York City's most popular nightclubs

Who He Is

Mark Gadsden is a Public Safety Officer and a Fire Safety Director. He works the graveyard shift, from midnight to eight a.m., rotating among five posts across campus.


Road to TC

Born and raised in the Bronx, Gadsden was drafted in the Army and was deployed to Vietnam. Upon his return, he went to work for IBM (and subsequently Prodigy, which IBM co-launched), where he was employed in administration and public safety for more than 27 years. IBM's philosophy of "people first" resonated with Gadsden, and he has continued to practice it even after leaving the company.

After stints at mortgage brokerage and banking firms, Gadsden became the director of the East Harlem Council for Community Improvement, opening the El Faro Beacon Youth and Family Services Center on 120th street & First Avenue, where he launched a thriving basketball mentoring program for at-risk youth in the neighborhood.

"The idea," says Gadsden, "was to keep the peace by keeping the youth and adults busy."

Meanwhile, Gadsden had been working as a bouncer since 1987 at nightclubs across the city, as also taking on special assignments with entertainment and political figures nationally.

In April 2005, after meeting TC's former security director, Tim Kingsley, Gadsden worked a one-day event at the Cowin Center, where his ease with crowd control caught the eye of TC Senior Public Safety Officer James Kearney. Kearney suggested Gadsden apply for a full-time security position, and by the time fall came around, Gadsden was an official member of the TC staff.


Best Part of the Job

For Gadsden, who likens his public safety duties to those of being a bouncer, the best part of his job is helping the students. Recently, he was in New Residence Hall, when he noticed a young woman in a sable coat, leaving the building at two o'clock in the morning. She was planning on walking through Morningside Heights Park, but agreed to call a cab after Gadsden convinced her it was better to err on the side of safety.

"When parents come in and say, 'You're thorough--I feel comfortable with my son or daughter here,' that means a lot," says Gadsden. "And I like that I can say with confidence that it's the same with every member of our team."


In His Spare Time

In 2006, Gadsden published Memoirs of A Bouncer: The Real Men in Black (Authorhouse), which chronicles his experiences as a peacekeeper and watchman at some of the City's most popular nightclubs and includes important tips for staying safe while having fun.

After being sold worldwide, in March, the book was released in its second edition. Beyond additional scenes from the other side of the velvet rope, the new edition contains a dedication to Gadsden's younger sister Gloria, who passed away unexpectedly after a stroke. In her memory, Gadsden has established the Gloria Jean Gadsden Scholarship Fund for deserving youth. Half the proceeds from books bought on his website will directly support the fund.

Gadsden spends most of his free time promoting the book via readings, like the BookTalk he gave at TC's Gottesman Libraries in early May. As well, he blogs and posts videos from his readings onto social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.


Did You Know?

Gadsden is publishing his second book, Spiritual Messages for Young People & Some for Older People Too, which will be published by Authorhouse this winter.

"There's inspiration here for everyone," he says.

Published Monday, Jul. 19, 2010


More Stories