Dear Members of the TC Community:

I am delighted to announce the recipients of the Teachers College 2023 Medal for Distinguished Service — the highest honor we bestow.

The medalists, who will address TC’s graduating masters and doctoral students at our four convocation ceremonies, are: Dr. Miguel Cardona, United States Secretary of Education under President Biden; Dr. Kevin Nadal, Distinguished Professor of Psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Graduate Center at the City University of New York, queer activist and author, and Teachers College alumnus; Chef Marcus Samuelsson, ​​James Beard award-winning chef, entrepreneur, and devoted Harlem community member; and Ms. Elly Yae Li Cho, award-winning filmmaker, visual artist, and Teachers College alumna.

Dr. Miguel Cardona is the honoree at TC’s first ceremony (Mathematics, Science & Technology, and Organization & Leadership) on the evening of Wednesday, May 17

Since his appointment to the Department of Education under President Biden in March 2021, Dr. Cardona has led efforts to safely reopen schools for in-person learning. His agenda — informed by his background as a public school teacher and principal — has included efforts to overhaul the American student loan system and equity-driven policy reform. During his time as the commissioner of education in Connecticut, Dr. Cardona made the state the first in the U.S. to provide equitable access to learning devices during the COVID-19 pandemic and among the first to safely reopen schools. His emphasis on partnerships, which still informs his leadership today, also informed Connecticut’s collaboration with organizations to provide free social and emotional learning courses for students. 

Dr. Kevin Nadal will be honored at our second ceremony (for Counseling & Clinical Psychology, and Human Development) on the morning of Thursday, May 18

Driving research on multicultural issues within psychology, Dr. Nadal is a leading scholar in the exploration of microaggressions toward LGBTQ+ people and people of color. He is a distinguished professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY) — the first Filipino American and second youngest person to achieve this title at CUNY. Through his scholarship and activism, Dr. Nadal has written 14 books, including Dismantling Everyday Discrimination; Filipino American Psychology; and Queering Law and Order. Dr. Nadal’s insight has appeared in the New York Times, NPR, Psychology Today and more. A TC alumnus of the counseling psychology doctoral program, Dr. Nadal was a co-founder of the LGBTQ Scholars of Color National Network and is the current president of the Filipino American National Historical Society.

Chef Marcus Samuelsson will be honored at our third ceremony (for Biobehavioral Sciences, Health & Behavior Studies, and International & Transcultural Studies) in the afternoon of Thursday, May 18

A cultural and philanthropic leader in the Harlem community, Samuelsson is the award-winning visionary behind the famous, soul food eatery Red Rooster, located just blocks away from TC. He has over 30 restaurants worldwide, including the recently opened Hav & Mar in Chelsea and Marcus Bar & Grille in Atlanta. His robust culinary career — extending from television to the Obama White House and cookbooks across the world — aligns with his extensive philanthropy dedicated to food access. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Samuelsson leveraged his own businesses to facilitate food access projects with partners in Harlem, Newark and Miami — serving more than 1.7 million meals to individuals in need. Samuelsson’s dedication to community is further evident in his role co-producing the annual Harlem EatUp! Festival, which celebrates the food, art, and culture of the historic neighborhood. 

Ms. Elly Cho will be honored at our fourth ceremony (for Arts & Humanities, Curriculum & Teaching, and Education Policy & Social Analysis) on the evening of Thursday, May 18.

One of the most interesting and experimental artists practicing today, Ms. Cho examines the relationship between ecology and the human condition through her artistic endeavors, which include painting, mixed media, video and performance. Born and residing in South Korea, Ms. Cho frequently explores climate change in her award-winning works and films — including her recent acclaimed project, The Eclipse — which have been shown at festivals spanning from Hong Kong and Cannes to New York. Major institutions, including the Seoul Municipal Museum and Switzerland’s Musée Cantonale des Beaux-Arts du Valais, count Ms. Cho’s works among their primary collections. Her TC scholarship in art education built upon early experience teaching in Seoul, which Ms. Cho would continue to do at Ewha Womans University and Hongik University.  

I can’t imagine more worthy recipients of the College’s highest honor. We look forward to hearing their words at convocation, as we pay tribute to the extraordinary accomplishments of our 2023 graduates, including our four student speakers: Ruohao Chen (Ed.D. ’23, Adult Learning and Leadership); Srishti Sardana (Ph.D. ’23, Clinical Psychology); Kella Merlain-Moffatt (M.A. ’23, International Education Development); and Malack Al-Haraizeh (M.A. ’23, Politics and Education).

As a reminder, the last day to register for convocation tickets is Friday, April 21 at 5:00 p.m. EST. — visit the convocation website to reserve your seats.

I look forward to celebrating with all of you in May!


Thomas Bailey
President, Teachers College