Profound innovators across education, psychology, health and art will receive Medals for Distinguished Service, Teachers College’s highest honor, at Convocation ceremonies this year on May 14 and 15

As the TC community, families and friends come together to celebrate the achievements of the remarkable Class of 2024, the College’s honorees embody the rewarding journeys ahead for those dedicating their lives to the service of others. 

Medalists Parham, Edmondson, and Arnhold will address TC’s graduating Masters and Doctoral students at the Convocation ceremonies. Deborah W. Brooks, The Michael J. Fox Foundation’s CEO and Co-Founder, will address the graduates and accept the medal on behalf of Michael J. Fox.

[Graduates, register for tickets by April 19 by 5 pm ET.] 

“These extraordinarily worthy recipients of the College's Medal for Distinguished Service are a tribute to the outstanding accomplishments of our 2024 graduates.,” President Thomas Bailey wrote in an email to the community. 

The College’s Medal for Distinguished Service recipients include: 

Dr. Thomas Parham, Psychologist and President of California State University,

Parham is the 11th president of California State University, Dominguez Hills, a diverse university serving the South Central and South Bay areas of Los Angeles County. For the past forty-plus years, Dr. Parham has been an academic clinician and scholar whose research focuses on racial identity, and he has authored or co-authored six books and more than 50 journal articles and book chapters. He has sustained a scholarly focus in the areas of African psychology, and multicultural counseling. Parham received his B.A. in social ecology from the University of California, Irvine, his M.A. in counseling psychology at Washington University in St. Louis, and his Ph.D. in counseling psychology at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. A fellow and distinguished psychologist, Parham is an active member of the community, contributing his talents in the areas of social advocacy, community uplift and youth empowerment. 

Thomas Parham headshot

(Photo courtesy of California State University)

Parham will receive the TC honor and address graduates, families and guests on Tuesday, May 14 during the College’s ceremony for the departments of Counseling & Clinical Psychology, and Human Development. 

Michael J. Fox, Actor and Philanthropist 

Fox’s Hollywood career has been marked by worldwide acclaim, honor and awards. In 2000, after publicly disclosing his 1991 diagnosis at age 29 with Parkinson’s disease, Fox launched The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Described by the New York Times as “the most credible voice on Parkinson’s disease research in the world,” the Foundation has funded more than $2 billion in Parkinson’s research programs to date. Fox has spoken and written extensively about his predisposition to look at challenges, including his Parkinson's disease, through a lens of optimism and humor. His many awards include five Emmys, four Golden Globes, one Grammy, two Screen Actors Guild awards and the People’s Choice award. In the fall of 2022, Michael J. Fox was presented with an honorary Oscar, the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The documentary film Still, about Fox’s remarkable life, was released by Apple TV+ in the spring of 2023. Thanks to generous support from the Foundation, TC faculty are engaged in a variety of research and therapeutic efforts on behalf of Parkinson’s patients, including a new exercise guide. 

michael j. fox headshot

(Photo courtesy of the Michael J. Fox Foundation)

Fox will be honored on Tuesday, May 14, during the College’s ceremony for the departments of Biobehavioral Sciences, Health Studies and Applied Educational Psychology, and International and Transcultural Studies. Deborah W. Brooks, CEO and co-founder of The Michael J. Fox Foundation, will accept the medal and address graduates, families and guests on Fox’s behalf. 

Dr. Amy Edmondson, Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at Harvard Business School

Edmondson is a management scholar best known for research on psychological safety and team learning. She has been recognized by the biannual Thinkers50 global ranking of management thinkers since 2011 (ranked #1 in 2021 and 2023). She is the author of eight books and more than 100 academic articles. Her most recent book, Right Kind of Wrong: The Science of Failing Well, was the Financial Times and Schroders Best Business Book of 2023, and is being translated into 24 additional languages. Edmondson received her Ph.D. in organizational behavior, A.M. in psychology, and A.B. in engineering and design from Harvard University. 

Amy Edmondson headshot

(Photo courtesy of Edmondson) 

Edmondson will receive the TC honor and address graduates, families and guests on Tuesday, May 14, during the College’s ceremony for the departments of Math, Science & Technology, and Organization & Leadership. 

Jody Arnhold (M.A. ’73), Dance Educator and Innovator

Arnhold’s 25-year tenure teaching dance in NYC public schools has been the catalyst for her visionary support of dance education. Her contributions to dance in higher education have created unparalleled opportunities for dance to be taught, researched, measured and analyzed — providing substantial evidence that dance is essential to every child’s education. She founded the Dance Education Laboratory (DEL) 92NY, supports the NYC DOE dance program and created the Arnhold Graduate Dance Education Program at Hunter College. Arnhold’s founding and visionary support for the doctorate in Dance Education and the Arnhold Institute for Dance Education Research, Policy & Leadership at Teachers College, Columbia University is generating valuable thought leadership for dance education in public policy. The Arnhold Dance Education Research Studios at TC will open this year. Arnhold is Executive Producer of the documentaries, PS DANCE! Dance Education in Public Schools, and PS DANCE! The Next Generation, raising awareness for her mission — Dance for Every Child. 

Jody Arnhold headshot

(Photo courtesy of Arnhold) 

Arnhold will receive the TC honor and address graduates, families and guests on Wednesday, May 15 during the College’s fourth ceremony for the departments of Arts & Humanities, Curriculum & Teaching, and Education Policy & Social Analysis. 

Find everything you need to know for Convocation 2024 here