Susan Fuhrman Spring Letter 2014 | Teachers College Columbia University

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Susan Fuhrman Spring Letter 2014

Spring has finally arrived to our campus on Teachers College Way, and with the season comes a spirit of renewal and excitement at TC. There have been so many noteworthy things happening at the College since last fall that I wanted to share some highlights of news, accomplishments, and events.  

Many of our alumni, friends, faculty, and students attended the 125th Anniversary Gala at the legendary Apollo Theater last November. The Gala showcased our illustrious “Legacy of Firsts,” as we launched our historic $300 million campaign for the future. Students are front and center of Where the Future Comes First: The Campaign for Teachers College as they were that evening at the gala, where we raised $1.4 million for scholarships and fellowships. We’ve put $900,000 of that to work right away with the creation of the 125th Anniversary Scholarship, the first round of which were awarded for the 2013-14 academic year.

Also at the Gala, we were thrilled to announce a generous gift bequest from Barbra Streisand to create the Emanuel and Barbra Streisand Scholarship Fund. Streisand’s father Emanuel Streisand was a lifelong educator who was working toward a Ph.D. at TC when he died.

I encourage you to visit our campaign website to learn more about how giving to TC is supporting our talented students to make a positive difference in schools and communities around the world.

We’re very excited for this unprecedented campaign for TC’s future, which is off to a strong start, raising more than $156 million to date toward our goal. The campaign is focusing our energies as never before to reinvigorate our legacy and galvanize the ideas and collaborations that will help shape the 21st century.   

With the campaign in full swing, we’re also engaging our 90,000 alumni and friends across the country and around the world – forging stronger connections with TC and with one another. So far this year, TC has been on the road, bringing senior leaders, faculty and staff to TC events in Florida, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seoul, Hong Kong, Minneapolis and Madison, Wisconsin – with more travels to come. It has been so gratifying to meet with alumni and friends, hear about their impressive accomplishments, and learn more about their interest in helping TC thrive and flourish in the years ahead.

Back on campus, last month we greeted more than 1,000 alumni and friends, faculty, and students at the 2014 Academic Festival, our signature homecoming event. The day was made even more special by the participation of several hundred newly admitted students, who had the opportunity to meet and mingle with TC’s people and hear about our latest trailblazing research and ideas. New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña delivered the Phyllis L. Kossof Lecture, as the Chancellor marked the first 100 days of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration with her first major policy address.    

We’ve hosted a number of special events this academic year featuring the breadth and depth of TC’s enterprises and the work of our world-class faculty. Last fall we launched the Edmund Gordon Lecture, which honors this TC icon who serves as the Richard March Hoe Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Education. The annual lecture is part of the Educating Harlem project, a collaboration between TC’s Program in History and Education and our Institute for Urban and Minority Education.      

We highlighted important social and political issues last fall at lively and informative forums.  “From Bullying to the Defense of Marriage Act:  A Journey Toward Equality” brought to campus Jane Clementi, who co-founded with her husband the Tyler Clementi Foundation to honor their late son. We’re collaborating with the Tyler Clementi Foundation to create the LGBTQ Scholarship with funding from TC. The scholarship will be awarded to two TC students committed to research and practice in LGBTQ issues. A conference on “Domestic Violence, Gender & Culture” was presented by TC’s new Sexuality, Women, and Gender Project, co-founded by three faculty members in TC’s Counseling and Clinical Psychology Department: Aurelie Athan, Melanie Brewster, and Riddhi Sandil, with funding from a TC Provost Investment Grant. The project is incorporating a focus on women and LGBTQ individuals across our disciplines and fields of study.

In December, experts from around the country converged on TC for the conference Testing Then and Now - Building on a Legacy in Educational Measurement, Assessment and Evaluation, which commemorated TC's legacy in testing and explored ways to chart a stronger future for educational measurement and evaluation. The conference was hosted by our Assessment and Evaluation Research Initiative, directed by Madhabi Chatterji, Associate Professor of Measurement, Evaluation and Education.  

Global Learning Alliance conference in April brought to campus scholars, practitioners, policy makers, and innovative leaders from nations with the top-performing education systems to discuss the capacities students need to think and work in the global 21st century. The Alliance is based within TC’s Center for the Professional Education of Teachers, under the direction of Ruth Vinz, the Enid & Lester Morse Professor in Teacher Education and chair of the Department of Arts and Humanities.

Also in April, the International Association of Laboratory Schools held its annual meeting at TC. At the conference I had the opportunity to discuss our experience partnering with schools in Harlem, in particular our founding of, and ongoing involvement with, the Teachers College Community School. Associate Vice President Nancy Streim, who leads our Office of School and Community Partnerships, was part of a panel discussion of models for university-assisted public community schools.    

Earlier this month, we hosted a timely conference of national interest that explored how the suburbs have become the epicenter of the struggle for integration and equal opportunity 60 years after the landmark Brown v. the Board of Education decision. The Suburban Promise of Brown: Addressing Challenges to Sustaining Racially Diverse Schools and Communities was sponsored by the Rausch Foundation and our Department of Education, Policy and Social Analysis. The Foundation also has supported important work by TC’s Amy Stuart Wells, Professor of Sociology and Education, whose recent study “Divided We Fall: The Story of Separate and Unequal Suburban Schools 60 Years after Brown v. Board of Education,” is receiving national media attention. Professor Wells also was elected to the National Academy of Education earlier this year.

The work being done by our extraordinary faculty continues to draw major funding to TC. Our National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools & Teaching was awarded a $12 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education for its STEM Early College Expansion Partnership. The partnership provides high-quality professional development to teachers in the STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) who work with high-need students. 

Our Office of School and Community Partnerships has been awarded nearly $1 million over three years from the New York State Department of Education for its work at the Heritage School, a high school in Harlem that was founded with support from TC.

Ann E. Boehm (Ph.D. '66), TC Professor Emerita of Psychology and Education, has very generously made a lifetime bequest to TC that could ultimately exceed $5 million. The Ann E. Boehm and Neville Kaplan School Psychology Fund will provide scholarships for doctoral students in school psychology who focus on the educational and psychological needs of children ages 3-8.

Created by Ryan Baker, Associate Professor of Cognitive Studies, TC’s first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on educational data mining enrolled more than 44,000 students. He’s now mining data from the course itself to explore urgent questions about the effectiveness of MOOCs and how MOOC instruction compares with in-classroom learning.     

Aaron Pallas has been named the Arthur I. Gates Professor of Sociology and Education at Teachers College. He delivered a lecture on the legacy of Bloomberg-Klein era as part of the Endowed Professorship Lecture Series and later offered Mayor de Blasio five-cost conscious tips for improving NYC schools.   

Anand Marri, Associate Professor of Social Studies and Education, has been named Vice President and Head of Economic Education for the Federal Reserve Board of New York. In this position, he serves as the Fed’s highest-ranking officer for education nationwide.

Groundbreaking research by Lisa Miller, Professor and Director of Clinical Psychology, suggesting spirituality protects against depression was featured in national media. Professor Miller serves as Director of the Spirituality Mind-Body Institute at TC.

Our faculty members also continue to garner prestigious honors and awards.

Christopher Emdin, Associate professor of Science Education, was named a “Champion of Change” at a ceremony at the White House in February. He received the award for creating opportunities and broadening diversity in STEM professions.

Ernest Morrell, Professor of English Education and Director of the Institute for Urban and Minority Education, has been named a 2014 Fellow of the American Educational Research Association (AERA). He currently serves as President of the 40,000-member National Council of Teachers of English.   

Herve Varenne, Professor of Anthropology and Education, received the George and Louise Spindler Award for lifetime achievement from the Council on Anthropology and Education. The award committee noted Professor Varenne’s “profound effect” on the field of anthropology and education.

Daniel Friedrich, Assistant Professor of Curriculum, received the Early Career Award from the AERA Critical Issues in Curriculum and Cultural Studies SIG. The award is given each year to one early career scholar who best demonstrates a consistent commitment to the critical study of curriculum and cultural studies scholarship.

TC faculty, students and alumni are building on our historic legacy in comparative and international education. Recently, Lesley Bartlett, Associate Professor of Education, and Ameena Ghaffar-Kucher (Ed.D. '08), a Senior Lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania, received the 2014 Jackie Kirk Outstanding Book Award from the Comparative and International Education Society for their work Refugees, Immigrants and Education in the Global South. Six of the fifteen chapters in the volume were authored or co-authored by TC alumni or doctoral students.

Now as the spring semester comes to a close, we look forward to our master’s convocation and doctoral hooding ceremonies on May 19-21, where we will join with their family and friends to celebrate our graduates, their accomplishments, and the promise they hold to create a better world for all. We’re thrilled to bestow the 2014 Medal for Distinguished Service on four remarkable individuals who will speak at the ceremonies:

  • Temple Grandin, international champion of autism rights and humane treatment of animals
  • The Rev. Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III, Pastor of Abyssinian Baptist Church
  • Nobel laureate Carl Wieman, Chairman of the Board on Science Education of the National Academy of Sciences
  • Sonia Nieto, Professor Emerita of Language, Literacy, and Culture, School of Education, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Commencement week is an exciting time at TC when we launch a new group of graduates into the world to join our very special alumni and friends. They are next generation of TC people who, like you, work every day to create a smarter, healthier, and more abundant world. We’re so proud of all the members of TC’s global family, and we want you to be proud of this College in turn. Together, with the support and involvement of our global TC family, as our good friend and Gala honoree Tony Bennett sings, “The best is yet to come.”    


Susan Fuhrman

Published Thursday, May. 15, 2014