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A Letter from Susan Fuhrman

Susan fuhrmanOur 125th anniversary year at TC has been full of special celebrations on campus and around the world to mark our distinguished history and the TC “legacy of firsts.” Now that we are more than halfway through this milestone year, we’re looking ahead to how our College will help to shape the 21st century and advance the education, health, and well-being of individuals and communities around the world.   

We kicked off our 125th anniversary in March with a wonderful month-long exhibit on TC’s history at the New York Historical Society, and we continued our celebration the following month at our annual Academic Festival

Global TC Day on July 25 brought together the worldwide TC community to celebrate the 125th anniversary in a dozen countries and in as many U.S. cities. I was thrilled to join TC alumni in London for their Global TC Day celebration and connect via Skype with our gathering of faculty and staff on campus in New York City. Global TC Day was a great success and we hope to continue this new tradition in the years ahead.   

We hosted a New York City Mayoral Forum on July 30 in Cowin Auditorium where the 14 candidates for mayor of New York spoke on the arts and arts education. WNYC public radio hosts Leonard Lopate and Kurt Andersen interviewed the candidates. The following week I appeared on Lopate’s show to discuss the challenges for the next mayor in regard to arts education.       

Our anniversary celebration continued with TC Week the first week of September – as we greeted new students and welcomed back returning students with special events and activities to mark the 125th. We kicked off the week with a rousing event to celebrate the co-naming of 120th Street as Teachers College Way. Students, faculty and staff waved blue and orange pompoms as dignitaries lauded TC’s distinguished history and legacy of service to New York City. Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs presented a proclamation signed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg that saluted TC for “a broad-based focus on education” that encompasses “wellness and health and the well-being of communities and individuals.”

Our anniversary year will culminate with a benefit Gala on November 12 – a celebration that will fittingly take place on 125th Street at the legendary Apollo Theater. We will honor philanthropist Laurie M. Tisch; arts education supporters Susan Benedetto and Tony Bennett; GE Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt; and school reform giant James Comer for their leadership in fields related to education. All proceeds from the Gala will benefit TC’s scholarship fund. It is sure to be a wonderful and memorable evening.

We have so much to celebrate this year, not only our illustrious history and “legacy of firsts,” but also the continuing achievements of TC people today who are creating future firsts and working toward a smarter, healthier, and more just world for all.

TC is known for its multidisciplinary enterprises that bring together the best minds to address our most urgent challenges. A wonderful example is the new Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy, which was established last winter with a $5 million gift from the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund. Laurie Tisch is a long-time supporter of the College who serves as Vice Chair of TC’s Board of Trustees. The center will serve as a flagship of the Healthy Food & Community Change initiative, which will support increased access, availability, affordability, and knowledge of healthy foods and promote healthy choices.

We also launched the Center for Health Equity and Urban Science Education this year. Co-directed by Christopher Emdin, Assistant Professor of Science Education, and Barbara Wallace, Professor of Health Education, the Center seeks to build evidence-based approaches to health disparities with a focus on school success and shaping policy.  

This summer, TC’s Office of School and Community Partnerships was awarded $3.5 million in federal funding for its Harlem Ivy 21st Century Community Learning Center to design, deliver and evaluate expanded learning opportunities for three of the six public schools in Harlem that we support with a wide range of resources through the TC Partnership Schools Consortium.   

Through a gift from TC Trustee Joyce B. Cowin (M.A. ’52), TC launched the first annual Financial Literacy Summer Institute for New York City high school teachers. Under the direction of Professor Anand Marri, the Institute helps teachers integrate important concepts about finance into history, social studies and other courses to increase students’ financial literacy.

Finally, Edmund Gordon, the Richard March Hoe Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Education Director Emeritus of the Institute for Urban and Minority Education, led The Gordon Commission on the Future of Assessment in Education, a 30-member commission of educators and thought leaders formed to examine the future of education and its assessment. The commission issued a report in March that called for assessments that help students accelerate learning and teachers personalize instruction. 

I am also pleased to report our world-class faculty members continue to garner prestigious honors and achievements. Barbara Tversky, Professor of Psychology and Education and an internationally recognized cognitive psychologist, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Jeffrey Henig, Professor of Political Science and Education, and Anna Neumann, Professor of Higher Education, are among the dozen newly elected members of the National Academy of Education. Thomas Bailey, George & Abby O'Neill Professor of Economics and Education; Jeffrey Henig; and Amy Stuart Wells, Professor of Sociology and Education, are among 23 scholars selected to be the 2013 Fellows of the American Education Research Association.

This fall we welcomed to TC an impressive group of 14 new faculty members who will teach and conduct research across our diverse fields and disciplines. Our new faculty brings expertise in path breaking areas of study including educational data mining, drivers of educational success for low-income families, social-emotional health of disadvantaged children, and the challenges posed by the Common Core standards for English language learners. One is even reputed to be the first sociologist to commission a Grammy-nominated album. I look forward to the work this extremely strong group of scholars will produce at TC as they inspire our students to achieve excellence in all that they do.     

Of course, our talented and dedicated students are the focus of so much of what TC is all about. That’s why I am always thrilled to greet new students to campus in September as they begin their TC adventures. This year’s new students represent our largest, most diverse, and arguably our most talented incoming class in the College’s history. They come from 75 countries and 48 states, and they’ve arrived at TC ready to create their own “legacy of firsts” – with a distinctly 21st century twist.

Among our new students are the young woman who was the subject of the movie Homeless to Harvard, who chose to continue her amazing and inspiring journey at TC; a dancer from the renowned Ballet Hispanico; and the great-great granddaughter of Booker T. Washington.  

This year we’ve received major gifts focused on providing all our exceptional students with increased opportunity and a robust learning environment at TC. 

Longtime TC Trustee Abby O’Neill made a gift commitment of $11 million to support aspiring teachers who demonstrate a commitment to teaching in New York City. We welcomed the first class of 12 of 24 O’Neill Fellows in September. 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).

An $8 million gift from education philanthropists Camilla and George Smith will enable the College to renovate the fourth floor of its Gottesman Libraries as the Camilla and George Smith Learning Theater. The new facility will support the next generation of faculty and student research and instruction and ensure that TC remains home to the world’s preeminent library in the field of education.

While we have so much to celebrate at TC during our anniversary year, we are planning for an even greater future.

We will create this future by supporting and empowering our world-class faculty and students, infusing our campus with leading-edge technology and ensuring our wonderful historic buildings serve our 21st century needs, and continuing to develop and launch programs and fields of inquiry with global influence and impact.      

I am tremendously privileged to lead an institution that has excelled at preparing so many of our leaders in education, health, psychology, business, and human development. You inspire me every day with your work and your service around the world. You are not only TC’s most loyal ambassadors, you also are the best examples of the transformative impact of a TC education. 

As we look ahead to our next 125 years, I look forward to your active engagement in our conversations about the future of Teachers College and the fields we serve. Working together we can build an even stronger TC for generations to come.


Susan H. Fuhrman

Published Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013


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