To the TC Community:

I am deeply saddened to report the losses of two cherished figures among our extended TC family: María Torres-Guzmán, Professor Emerita of Bilingual/Bicultural Education (and longtime director of that program), and L. Lee Knefelkamp, Professor Emerita of Psychology & Education.

María, who passed away in August, was a pioneer in the field of multilingual and multicultural education. Known for her passionate commitment to la lucha – her ongoing struggle to advance the cause of the Latinx community and overcome its marginalization, both in American society and in the Americas – María believed that children learn best when they have access to their home language. Yet she also argued that bilingualism and multilingualism provide language-dominant and mainstream populations with “the resources for understanding new worlds and to become more flexible.”

Among María’s many accomplishments were her creation, during the early 1970s, of one of the nation’s first teacher education programs in bilingual education (at Wayne State University); her co-directorship of a global conference at TC in 2004 that focused on how local and global forces combine to affect decisions to include or exclude different languages; her collaboration with the principal of a local public school, P.S. 165, to create a model culture based on dual-language instruction; and her deep commitment to mentoring younger Latina scholars. For all of these efforts, and many more, María received the American Educational Research Association’s Bilingual Education SIG Lifetime Achievement Award in 2011.

You can read more about María in a story posted today to the TC home page.

Lee Knefelkamp, whom we lost just this past week, has been credited with bringing the first wave of student development theory to the student affairs profession, and in particular with advancing and building upon William Perry’s theory of intellectual and ethical development.

Lee, who taught in TC’s programs in social-organizational psychology and higher education, helped create the Eisenhower Leader Development Program, jointly run by TC and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Prior to joining our faculty, she directed the student development graduate program at the University of Maryland; served as dean of the school of education at American University; and was academic dean of faculty at Macalester College.

Lee was also Senior Scholar, Office of Integrative Liberal Learning and the Global Commons, for the American Association of Colleges and Universities. In that role, she worked for many years on an initiative called LEAP (for Liberal Education and America’s Promise) – a comprehensive campaign to redesign the academic and social experience for American undergraduates. LEAP’s core goals were to ensure, first, that students gain an understanding of human cultures and of the physical and natural world; and, second, that they use their skills to improve society.

Tributes to Lee have appeared on the website of AAC&U and through social media messaging by the Association for the Study of Higher Education.

María Torres-Guzmán and Lee Knefelkamp weren’t just important scholars in their fields. They were icons for generations of students and colleagues who modeled how caring, passionate, brilliant scholars conduct themselves and what they can accomplish – not only through their own work, but by their impact on others. They cannot be replaced, but we will treasure their memory and build on their example.

Thomas Bailey
President, Teachers College