Abby M. O'Neill Gives $11 Million to Teachers College for Sc... | Teachers College Columbia University

Skip to content Skip to main navigation

Abby M. O'Neill Gives $11 Million to Teachers College for Scholarship Support

Teachers College has received an extraordinary $11 million commitment from longtime Trustee Abby M. O'Neill. The gift reflects her passion for supporting aspiring teachers.

Teachers College has received an extraordinary $11 million commitment from longtime Trustee Abby M. O’Neill. The gift reflects both Mrs. O’Neill’s passion for supporting aspiring teachers who demonstrate a commitment to teaching in New York City and her goal of removing financial barriers to fulfilling that commitment.

“Too many teachers are strapped by debt from graduate school and the high cost of living in metropolitan New York City,” said TC President Susan Fuhrman. “Abby is determined to improve those conditions to keep the best teachers right here in our backyard.”

At a luncheon in Mrs. O’Neill’s honor, Fuhrman said that fellowships created by the gift “speak to the very essence of the TC mission.”  Thanking her for her “service as a trustee and for her wise counsel,” she added that “Abby’s support for TC is in her very blood. After all, she is the great-granddaughter of John D. Rockefeller, who also served as a TC trustee and gave generously to TC at a critical time in our history.”

Mrs. O’Neill’s gift is among a series of important scholarship gifts received by the College from key donors in recent months.

“In true O’Neill style, Abby made her dreams a reality by establishing a legacy gift that will endow the O’Neill Fellowship in perpetuity. But with characteristic pragmatism, Abby has also put her vision to work right now with an outright gift that launches the inaugural effort,” Fuhrman said.

TC will welcome the first class of 12 out of 24 O’Neill Fellows, each of whom will receive $35,000, in September 2013. The Fellows will earn dual certification in areas of great need for New York City schools, such as science/inclusive education, elementary education/bilingual, or TESOL (the teaching of English to speakers of other languages). Through the support of the O’Neill Fellowship Program, these future New York City teachers will graduate virtually debt-free.

Mrs. O’Neill was honored in the company of her children and their families, close friends who are affiliated with TC, and other members of the College’s board, as along with faculty who have benefited from her support. Members of the entering cohort of O’Neill Fellows were also on hand.

During Mrs. O’Neill’s tenure on TC’s board, the O’Neill family has created a chaired professorship, the George and Abby O’Neill Economics and Education Chair, currently filled by Thomas Bailey, director of TC’s Community College Research Center and the National Center for Post-Secondary Research. The O’Neills have a long history of supporting student scholarships at the College, and Abby O’Neill also has served as a member of TC’s President’s Advisory Council.

Published Friday, May. 17, 2013