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Solid Gold


At TC, it’s been a year for celebrating the big five-oh

“Other universities said I was ahead of my time.” That describes three 50-year TC faculty members:


Lambros Comitas, Gardner Cowles Professor of Anthropology & Education, an authority on Caribbean culture and on drugs in society. He’s directed Columbia’s Institute of Latin American Stud­ies and the Research Institute for the Study of Man, and helped anthropology focus on modern societies: “Caribbean islands were small enough that one anthropologist could take it all in.”


Hope Jensen Leichter, TC’s Elbenwood Professor of Education and Director of the Elbenwood Center for the Study of Family as Educator. Her scholarship includes the social connections among generations and the continuities and discontinuities of family memories, especially during migration and immi­gration: “I examine how families create new combi­nations and traditions. The topic inspires student inquiries that often continue for years.”

Bruce Vogeli, Clifford Brewster Upton Professor of Mathematical Education, an authority on interna­tional mathematics education who has advised na­tions worldwide: “If a Guatemalan student demon­strates her long division method to a U.S. class, it can be a source of learning and cultural pride.”




Warner Burke, E.L. Thorndike Professor of Psychology & Education and Suzanne M. Murphy, Vice President of Devel­opment & External Affairs, accepted thanks from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in May. The occasion: graduation of the 10th cohort of the Eisenhower Leader Development Program (ELDP) Fellows. Co-founded by Burke and run jointly by TC and West Point, ELDP produces principled leaders who welcome others’ perspectives. Students — mostly captains and majors who commanded in Iraq and Afghanistan — earn master’s degrees in social-organizational psychology and become company tactical officers who help undergraduates balance the physical, military, academic and ethical requirements of a West Point education.




Delivering on His Beliefs

Genocide scholar Samuel Totten is risking his life to bring food to remote Sudanese villages


Sam Totten is 66 — an emeritus pro­fessor at the University of Arkansas in Fayettesville and an acclaimed au­thority on genocide. Totten (Ed.D. ’85) could easily occupy his time guest-lecturing and writing. Instead, he trucks food to remote mountain villages caught in Sudan’s brutal civil war. Crossing into Sudan without a visa, he travels through rebel territory. He’s run for cover dozens of times as Antonov bombers flew overhead and recently, by sheer luck, narrowly avoided being strafed by a fighter jet. Yet he keeps going back.

“The suffering ranges from mal­nutrition to starvation,” he says.

In a conflict over basic human rights, the civilians of the Nuba Mountains are caught in the crossfire. To rid the area of rebel support, the government has cut off access to food and regularly bombs the region.

Totten raises money from friends and colleagues, buys supplies in South Sudan and drives north. On his last trip in April, he also tried to rescue a boy who detonated stray ammunition. The boy died en route to the region’s only hospital. Later, suffering from severe dehydration, Totten passed out, injured his head and, after spending three days in a Doctors Without Borders field hospital, was airlifted to Kenya.

Why does he do this?

“I’ve studied genocide for years, mostly behind a desk,” he says. “I know what’s going on in Sudan and there’s no way in hell I am going to be a bystander. I don’t have kids, my wife is a saint, so I’ll continue until the situation improves or I’m no longer up to it.”— JOE LEVINE


An Education Champion

Repeatedly breaking the color line made Hilda Richards even more passionate about helping others to learn. 


“You meet life’s challenges with a deep breath and move forward,” says

Hilda Richards (Ed.D. ’76, M.Ed. ’65).  As a young woman, Richards was informed by St. John’s School of Nursing in St. Louis that she could attend only by saying she was Hispanic rather than African American. Instead, Richards transferred in after two years of high academic achievement, becoming the school’s first black graduate. She subsequently earned five degrees from four universities and capped a trailblazing career as Chancellor of Indiana University Northwest.

“When you fight for what you want, you become passionate,” says Richards, now 79.

Richards earned her M.Ed. in Nursing Education from TC, which she chose for its academic excellence and racial diversity. “I so loved my time at TC that I returned nearly a decade later for my doctorate,” she says. In between, she helped to open City Hospital’s psychiatric unit and Harlem Rehabilitation Hospital. Back at TC, she worked full time at CUNY’s Medgar Evers College. Eventually she was appointed associate dean and designed the school’s nursing program. She later became Ohio University’s first black, female academic dean and then Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, at both institutions hiring more women and people of color as faculty and administrators.

Before retiring in the early 2000s, Richards served as the National Black Nurses Association’s President and Journal Editor. Today she’s on the board of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and an active hospice volunteer. “Education is among the greatest things you can achieve,” she says. “It’s important to give back to others who pursue it.” — KELSEY ROGALEWICZ 


The Medium Became His Message

TC helped Stuart Selby find his métier in communication arts


TC has led the incorporation of non-tradi­tional media into education, from comics to hip hop. Witness “Communication and Communication Arts,” a 1955 TC Record section on modern approaches to communication in humanities and the social sciences.

“It was remarkably forward-looking,” says Stuart Selby (Ed.D. ’64, M.A. ’56), who was inspired by the publication’s authors — including the late TC faculty member Louis Forsdale and the iconic media critic Marshall McLuhan.

Selby studied English and history at Hamilton College and then law at Yale. “After a year, I knew I didn’t want to be a lawyer,” he recalls. During the Korean War, serving as a clerk in France thanks to high test scores and strong typing skills, he decided to teach English language and literature. He was accepted to graduate arts and education programs, but Forsdale and Charles Weingarten of TC’s Communication Arts program — both veterans themselves — were so down-to-earth that “I knew I wanted to be there, exploring communication’s real effects on real people.”

Selby applied the program’s focus on education “ecology” — how people are affected by and affect their environment — to film analysis. Back for his doctorate, he titled his TC dissertation “The Study of Film as an Art Form in American Secondary Schools” and met his future wife, Suzanne Rashbaum (M.A, ’60).

Selby developed the Audiovisual Communications program at Canada’s University of Saskatchewan and then the Communication Arts department at Ontario’s University of Windsor 

“Each new generation battles to get new forms and new media taken seriously in the class­room,” Selby says, “but it’s incredible to see this field grow.” — KELSEY ROGALEWICZ


Like Him for the Job

TC Alumni Association President Jeffrey Putman is a social media whiz who cares about students. 

Jeffrey Putman (Ed.D. ’11) brings strong qualifications to the pres­idency of the Teachers College Alumni Association.


Putman was raised on TC. His parents met there, with his dad receiving his master’s in the Teaching of Social Studies and his mom serving as Assistant to the Registrar from the late 1960s to the mid-’70s. Putman studied Higher & Postsecondary Education, titling his dis­sertation "The Student Affairs Pathway to the Presidency."

Putman is now Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, where he also is Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry.

Perhaps best of all, Putman is an exuberant user of social media.His @DrJeffreyP twitter account boasts more than 1,500 followers. In his spare time, he is a #SeeYourCity Social Media Ambassador for NYC & Company, the city’s official marketing, tourism and partnership or­ganization. He photographs monuments and spontaneous moments, and won the 2013 #LoveNYC Photo Contest. This past summer, he hosted a Global TC Day bus tour of New York City. He’s also a die-hard Yankees fan, tweeting regularly from the Bronx.

Putman particularly appreciates that supporting students is the top priority of TC’s $300 million Campaign. “It’s a great way to talk to alumni about engaging or reengaging with TC,” he says.

“I’m looking forward to helping the Alumni Council grow. There’s such a great group of people here, and I’m excited to be a part of it.” — KELSEY ROGALEWICZ 


Favorite TC Spot?

 “The reception room of Whittier Hall, where I lived.  In the evenings, a group of us would share ideas, songs and stories from our respective countries. When I resumed teaching, I used these ideas in planning my lessons! ”

Pearl Cunningham Ware (M.A. '62)

“The new Myers Media Art Studio. Many classes there are based around STEAM (a combination of Art with the traditional STEM subjects).  It is inspiring to see how art and technology can be blended. “

Courtney Steers (M.A. '10)

“Whittier Cafe, because of the free fitness classes there. They kept me sane through the certification and proposal defense marathon last year!”

Emily Bishop, current doctoral student in Comparative & International Education

“The main hallway and entrance in Zankel Hall, especially during the winter holiday season, with all the garlands hanging all over.”

Violeta B. Star (M.A 

“179 Grace Dodge Hall. Scene of both my wedding reception and retirement party. Plus so many interesting lectures, workshops, panels, parties, receptions, etc. over the years.

Marion Boultbee (Ed.D. '96)

“Everett Cafe. The hustle and bustle, seeing faculty, staff and students coming and going — it’s a great meeting spot. Plus there is coffee! “

Thomas Rock (Ed.D. '02), Associate Provost

Published Wednesday, Nov 4, 2015

Wavely Cannady
“If you can operate some-thing one way, you can always operate it,” says Wavely Cannady, Boiler Room Engineer. Cannady has been dispensing heat, hot water and mechanical wisdom at the College since 1965, using technology that’s morphed from coal-powered to computer-driven. TC is celebrating its 50-year club. “TC has shaped my life,” said alumna Lila Swell (Ed.D. ’64) at May’s “Golden Anniversary” brunch.
West Point
Lambros Comitas
Hope Jensen Leichter
Bruce Vogeli
Samuel Totten
Samuel Totten
Hilda Richards
Hilda Richards
Stuart Selby
Stuart Selby
Jeffrey Putman
Jeffrey Putman