Dear Members of the Teachers College Community:

I write today to inform you of recent actions resulting from the Summer 2020 decision by the Board of Trustees of Teachers College, Columbia University to remove Edward L. Thorndike’s name from the campus building that previously held his name. This fall, TC’s Facilities Department will continue the process of removing Thorndike’s name from all of the physical locations and directories on campus, and of relabeling these areas and all related references at the College. The building will now be called “Building 528,” with signage reflecting its full address at 528 West 121st Street.  

As we shared when TC’s Board voted unanimously to pursue this course, an extensive review by our faculty and students has confirmed that Thorndike, while an enormously influential figure in modern education, was a proponent of eugenics and held racist, sexist and anti-Semitic ideas. It is essential that Teachers College repudiate these views, which stand in stark contrast to our founding principle that education is the path to a better life.

Recognizing that he played a major role in the history of both TC and the field of psychology, our community will continue to assess Thorndike’s complex body of work, which includes launching the field of education psychology through his use of scientific methods.

Meanwhile, as Facilities changes labels in buildings and directories, we are asking TC faculty and staff in the academic and administrative departments to change references related to their courses and other professional responsibilities as needed. (Faculty will receive a separate message from Provost Stephanie Rowley.) An internal committee also is continuing to evaluate our process for naming campus buildings, classrooms and other spaces.
Thank you for your attention and patience as we address these important issues.


President Bailey's signature

Thomas Bailey
President, Teachers College