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

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Trustee Emerita Abby M. O’Neill Fulfills a Passion for Supporting Aspiring Teachers

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.

The Abby M. O’Neill Fellowship graduated its first cohort of 11 Fellows in May 2015, including standout teachers like Sarah Duer.  Created in 2013 through an extraordinary $11 million gift from TC Trustee Emerita Abby M. O’Neill, the O’Neill Fellowship addresses multiple needs in teacher education, including cost, the demand for training in key areas of dual certification and the need for excellent teachers committed to working in underserved communities.

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 2013 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, “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.

“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. 

O’Neill Fellows receive substantial funding to help defray the cost of earning dual certifications in areas of great need for New York City schools, such as science and inclusive education, elementary and bilingual education, 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 have the possibility of being debt-free upon graduating.

During Mrs. O’Neill’s tenure on TC’s board, the O’Neill family created a chaired professorship, the George & 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 has also served as a member of TC’s President’s Advisory Council.

 (Published 5/17/2013)

Published Friday, May. 17, 2013


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