Checking In, Fifty Years Later | Teachers College Columbia University

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Checking In, Fifty Years Later


Once a TC grad, always a TC grad. Witness the nearly 40 alumni who gathered – many with family and friends in tow – on the morning of the College’s first convocation ceremony in May to celebrate anniversaries of a half a century or more since receiving their diplomas. They hailed from as far away as Florida, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Mississippi and Washington, D.C., and they included teachers, researchers, artists, counselors, nurses and entrepreneurs.

“Collectively you have forged a TC legacy of excellence in service to society."
—President Susan Fuhrman (Ph.D. '77)

“Your impact is evident across the many fields you touch,” said TC President Susan Fuhrman (Ph.D. ’77) in her welcoming remarks. “Collectively you have forged a TC legacy of excellence in service to society, driven by your passion to create a smarter, healthier, and more equitable and peaceful world for all.”

Fuhrman offered a special tip of the cap to Phyllis Kossoff, a member of the TC President’s Advisory Council and funder of TC’s Phyllis L. Kossoff Lecture on Education and Policy; and Sally Valenti, (M.A. ’50), retired Vice Principal of the Alpine Public School in New Jersey, who, with another Golden Alumna, Delores Fox, (M.A. ’50), recently created a TC alumni group in Florida.

The Golden Alumni attended a panel discussion, “TC Then and Now,” featuring four TC faculty members – Bruce Vogeli, Clifford Brewster Upton Professor of Mathematical Education, Hope Leichter, Elbenwood Professor of Education, Margaret Jo Shepherd, Professor Emerita, and Celia Genishi, Professor Emerita of Education; enjoyed brunch in Everett Lounge, where they heard remarks from Fuhrman; TC Student Senate President Chelsey Saunders, and Jeffrey Putman, President of TC’s Alumni Council; were officially inducted as the inaugural members of the College’s Golden Alumni Society by Tom Rock, Vice President for Enrollment Services; and then marched at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in the master’s degree ceremony for students in the Departments of Arts & Humanities and Curriculum & Teaching.

They also shared memories, both humorous and profound.

Psychologist and CUNY Professor Emeritus Matthew Lanna (M.A. ’56) recalled that when he applied to TC’s program in Counseling & Clinical Psychology, he had to take an all-day exam to assess his reading speed and comprehension.

"Being at TC was the most exciting year of my life."
—Ruth H. Jones (M.A. '66)

“They came back and told me ‘Your reading speed is outstanding, but unfortunately your comprehension is in the lower half,’” Lanna said. “I was in shock, but the guy from the psych program was sympathetic – he kept saying, ‘So I understand that you’re feeling in shock.’ Finally, he said, ‘Look, we never make mistakes, but I’ll ask the technician to look it over again.’ Sure enough, when I came back a week later, he said, ‘Well, I want you to know that your comprehension is the top 10 percent, but you’re such a damn slow reader, we’re not sure you’ll get through all the assignments.’ But they took me, and I went on to learn the Carl Rogers approach, which is basically playing back to the patient everything he’s been saying – ‘I understand that you’re feeling in shock.’ And I realized, so that’s what that guy was doing.”

"You made it all worthwhile in one day."
—John (Jack) Reedy (M.A. '53)

Ruth H. Jones (M.A. ’66), from Meridian, Mississippi, recalled working with Ann McKillop and R.L. Thorndike, and meeting her future husband, Godwin Okurume, a visiting Yale student who went on to a career with the World Bank that took the couple to Nigeria, Ethiopia and other African nations. Jones, who subsequently worked as a reading specialist in seven different school districts nationwide, also remembered running into her hometown acquaintance James Meredith, the Civil Rights leader who was the first black student admitted at the University of Mississippi, on Columbia’s campus during the summer.

“Being at TC was the most exciting year of my life,” Jones said.

And Jack Reedy (M.A. ’53) sent a note of thanks afterward  in which he alluded to the many different jobs he has held, ranging from working in a quarry, lighting dynamite, to running a night school, to coaching football. At the end, he wrote: “You made it all worthwhile in one day.”
—Joe Levine

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Published Tuesday, Jun 7, 2016

The Golden Alumni
Members of The Golden Alumni process in during Convocation I.
Ruth H.Jones
Jack Ready