Walking the TC Way | Teachers College Columbia University

Skip to content Skip to main navigation

President's Message: Walking the TC Way

TC President Susan Fuhrman (Photo: Candace DiCarlo)
TC President Susan Fuhrman (Photo: Candace DiCarlo)

In 2013, New York City renamed West 120th Street “Teachers College Way”—a phrase that also reflects our ethos of translating ideas into practice to build a better educated, more just, safer, healthier and more equitable world.

This issue of TC Today brings you stories of TC community members who are walking the TC Way by advancing and defending the values we hold dear.

First and foremost is public education itself, which critics wrongly portray as an utter failure. In our cover story, TC faculty, alumni and a student offer powerful counter-narratives and ideas ranging from holding charter schools and other quasi-private institutions more accountable to redressing the ger­rymandering of voter districts that create “have” and “have-not” schools. Closer to home, alumnus Michael Usdan urges us to learn more about our local school boards, arguing that, with the system’s future in ques­tion, participation is crucial.

You’ll also read about two remarkable mothers of daughters with similar names, both of whom I had the honor of recognizing with TC’s Medal of Excellence at our Academic Festival in April. We will never forget alumna Phyllis L. Kossoff’s inspir­ing story of her fight for people with cystic fibrosis after losing her daughter, Stephanie, to the disease. Phyllis also funds TC’s Phyllis L. Kossoff Lecture on Education and Policy while generously supporting our students. Together with her daughter, Stefanie — better known as the singer Lady Gaga — Cynthia Germanotta and the Born This Way Foundation promote young people’s mental wellbeing to help them create a kinder world.

Chuck Cahn, too, has walked the TC Way, using his Wall Street smarts to create and expand TC’s Cahn Fellows Program for Distinguished Principals, which unites top public school leaders to share concerns and ideas and grow as professionals.

This spring, TC also lost two greats who devoted their lives to ensuring equal opportunity and social justice for all. Their legacies remain present in all that we do.

Trustee Emerita Abby M. O’Neill, who died in May, believed passionately that “education is the secret to it all.” Abby created TC’s George & Abby O’Neill Chair in Economics & Education and the Abby M. O’Neill Fellowship, which pro-vides teacher preparation in key areas and excellent teachers in underserved communities.

Morton Deutsch, TC’s great social psychologist and founder of the field of conflict resolution, died in March. Mort revolutionized thinking about marital conflict, education, industry and labor negotiations, and international relations. He also believed that human beings are fundamentally good.

“Violence and war are potentials of humans, but they are not inevitabilities,” Mort said, adding that peace “takes time, planning and effort.”

Words to live by as we, too, walk the TC Way.

Published Thursday, Jun 15, 2017