2019 State of the College Address: President Thomas Bailey

– Well, welcome everybody. It’s great to have this turnout. It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since we did inauguration and you’ve almost 15, 16,
17 months since I started and I have to say that even though I was
a 27-year veteran here when I became president, what I’ve realized since
I’ve been, taken office, is really how much I didn’t know. So I’m learning every
day what we’re doing. So now I mean, I knew Grace
Dodge founded it, sort of, and of course, I passed the bust of John Dewey hundreds of times so I knew something. I knew something about the
research that we’re doing, I knew a lot about the
research we’re doing in APSA in my department. But I have to say, that
when it came to the work of most of our faculty colleagues, the talents and life experiences of our exceptional students, and the indispensable roles that our hardworking
and dedicated staff play in our success, the truth is,
I’m still learning every day. Now there are many things I
enjoy about being the president of Teachers College, but what I like most is the opportunity and privilege to learn and to get to know all of you. And the more I’ve immersed myself in the life of the college, the more I’ve come to appreciate
the depth and richness of the college’s intellectual community and to admire so many of
the thousands of people who come through our doors every day, and of course the tens of thousands of alumni throughout the world. Indeed, this college
abounds in innovative energy and individual excellence in
teaching, practice and service. Our faculty includes
gifted teachers and mentors who inspire our talented students. Faculty research continually
defines new directions in education, psychology and health and through our many
powerful collaborations with practitioners and policy makers, we are translating our
research into practice. Our faculty, if you
remember from the quiz, collectively conduct more than $60 million in sponsored research,
publish scores of books, hundreds of peer reviewed
articles and book chapters, earn dozens of high academic honors, including prestigious awards and election to membership and leadership
of learned societies. To better capture our faculty’s
success and productivity, I’m happy to announce the
Provost’s office will be launching a new, improved and more comprehensive Faculty News and Notes digital report, featuring more graphics
information and information. This report will not only
spotlight faculty accomplishments but also include research
grants awarded to the faculty. Thank you for putting that together. I’m also pleased to report
the college continues to enroll diverse cohorts
of accomplished students. Their talents, idealism, and dedication to their future professions and the advancement of
the public good invigorate our faculty in their work. They include the developer
of an education program to serve Native Americans
with diabetes, who is enrolled in our Diabetes Education
and Management Program. A Columbian jazz musician and
music professor who’s taking TC music education courses
online so that he can immediately share the takeaways with
his own students in Bogata. A 2018 Democratic nominee
for the U.S. Senate, unfortunately lost, but
next time will win for sure, who’s now a politics and
education doctoral student. The founders of state dance
education organizations in Idaho and Tennessee who are now members of our dance education doctoral program. An expert in artificial
intelligence who’s interested in using robots to help disabled people and is a master’s candidate in the Adult Learning and Leadership. And an inspiring New York
City public school teacher who spent a summer teaching in Namibia and is now an Abby O’Neill fellow. By so many critically important measures, the state of the college is exceptional, but I believe that TC could
be stronger and better still and that we must make it so if we want to reach the potential of our ability to contribute significantly to building a better world. Our challenge, in a nutshell, is this: our excellence relies to a
great degree on the initiative of individual faculty, staff and students. In one way, that’s great news. Talent, entrepreneurship
and the desire and drive to do great things are
givens in our community. Individual innovation and
creativity are in the DNA of Teachers College. But in other ways, the playing
field isn’t always level. New students, faculty
and staff arrive here with great potential to
excel in their chosen fields, with excellence in many areas, but often with little
experience in others. Our faculty are great researchers
and some our well-versed in the arts of
collaboration, grant-getting and partnerships with practitioners, but excellent research
does not always require those other skills. Many faculty are wonderful
teachers and mentors but we all know that higher
education does not do enough to prepare future faculty
to excel in those roles. Indeed, many of our faculty members, certainly myself included, were trained when the
technology of teaching and the characteristics of students were totally different
than they are today. We can do more as a college
to address these issues. I could make similar observations about our students and staff. Many of our students, but not
all, thrive in their programs and go on to achieve their
scholarly and career goals. Many of our staff, but not all,
are positioned and supported for success in their jobs and for growth in their
professional goals. In short, the college does not
yet offer all of our faculty, students and staff the
structure of guidance, support and incentives to
learn and to use all the skills and practices they need to thrive. Now I can’t guarantee optimal
success and career outcomes for every faculty member, for
every matriculated student and every member of the staff, but I know that each and
everyone here is capable of great things, or wouldn’t
be at Teachers College. And we consider it not only our obligation but our privilege to
invest in your future. I feel strongly about this. I’ve spent much of my career
working with many others to bring a similar outlook
to community colleges and other undergraduate institutions. 25 years ago, the goal
of community colleges was to significantly expand
access to higher education and they have made great
progress towards that goal. But access was not enough. Many students were unable
to achieve their goals. The problem was that students,
once they were enrolled, were often left on their own
to figure out their goals and future pathways and to
find the support and help they needed to succeed. We argued that the colleges
needed to take responsibility for providing an educational
structure and a framework of services that would ensure
that everyone graduates with knowledge and skills needed to succeed in work and life. While I know the phrase, the new normal, sometimes has negative and even stress-inducing connotations, I want college-wide excellence for all to be our new normal. I know that we’re all committed to the goal of college-wide excellence. We’re not lacking in good intentions. So what do I think is missing? What’s missing are stronger
institutional systems to support all of our
people so no one’s success is reduced to a matter of chance or to their personal persistence in digging out the help that they need. No one at TC should feel
that they’re being left to sink or swim on their own because beyond the moral imperative, we all benefit when everyone
swims and swims well. More to the point, we can only solve the
world’s greatest challenges by drawing on the broadest
possible range of perspectives and deepest possible pool
of experience and talent. Perhaps some of you are
thinking, all right, Tom, college-wide excellence for all. Sounds like a nice lofty goal, but what are you actually
doing to achieve that goal? So what I’d like to do for
the remainder of my time today is discuss some of our plans
for making the many areas of excellence at TC the
standard for all of the college. Academic planning. The central function
of Teachers College is to deliver academic programs that meet the goals of our students. In many cases, we do a great job, but how can we improve? So one of my major priorities is to strengthen the management, delivery, quality and effectiveness of all our academic
programs at the college. TC is a complex institution
with 10 departments and about 50 individual programs. The complexity makes the college difficult to manage since any initiative or policy or practice improvement needs to work through so many units. What does that mean for 60 of our 160 tenured
and tenure-track faculty who also shoulder
administrative responsibilities as academic managers? It means they have less time to engage in research, teaching and mentoring. We have a simple goal: reduce the number of faculty managers and give the fewer
dedicated faculty who remain and who are running programs
and departments more autonomy, professional development and support. This simplification
will give us a structure to which we can encourage
initiatives in student mentoring, teaching, program reform,
diversification of curriculum, mentoring of junior
faculty and other measures. We want departments to be hubs of innovation
and collaboration, working internally with other departments and with the provost to strengthen our teaching,
research and service. To achieve this, we have
initiated a discussion with faculty about the
organization of the college that is designed to reduce
the number of departments and to group programs
together in such a way as to maximize the chances for
collaboration and consolidation. Now I realize that this
may cause some anxiety, but I want to emphasize that our goal is to reduce the number of faculty managers, not reduce the number of
academic support staff. Now consolidation will
also enable us to ensure that programs with common
or complementary interests, for example in psychology
or teacher education, are working together and
seizing opportunities to create powerful synergies. I want to be clear on one point. I recognize the great
success that many departments and programs have had under the, our current departmental structure. I want to build on that success. To use the publishing analogy, this is an edit, not a rewrite and I’m confident that the final
product will be much easier and more rewarding to read. Now my next priority is to improve our research infrastructure. Funded research has many benefits. It brings resources to the college. It provides much needed
funding for students. It gives rich professional experiences to faculty and particularly to students. It facilitates field work, lab creation, professional development through enhanced participation
in conferences and meetings. It increases our impact on
our fields and impels us to work to convince others
that our work is worthwhile. And last but not least, research
funding for faculty members is also an important element of the Ed School ranking system. Now we already have a large
volume of funded research, but Provost Rowley and I think that we can increase that
amount significantly. Only about half of our faculty
secure outside funding. Overall a small group of centers, institutes and individual
researchers accounts for a very significant proportion of the annual sponsored research awards. This is why we’ve spent
the past several months laying the groundwork for a research infrastructure initiative that will change this picture. The primary focus of this initiative is to provide faculty with
the support that they need, both to find the funding and to administer their
grants when they win. I’m pleased to report that
we have already instituted provostial support for grant
writing, for grant coaching through a program where faculty are able to hire a grant writing
professional to walk them through each step of
effective grant writing. We’ve also established a grant repository, a kind of internal what’s
worked clearinghouse, that gives new and experienced
grant writers alike access to examples of
successful grant proposals from colleagues. A new provostial research
advisory team will be assembled in January to help to
further delineate the needs of faculty in increased
interdisciplinary research projects. But these measures are only the beginning. We are initiating a national search for a tenured academic who
can serve as a vice president for research, vice provost for research. It will be that person’s
primary responsibility to strengthen our research infrastructure and increase our research funding. Now, strengthening student pathways. Exceptional graduate and
professional students from all over the world already
come to Teachers College for the opportunity to study and work with our outstanding faculty. Strengthening our academic
programs and bolstering our research profile will
make TC more attractive to an even larger pool
of prospective students. But there’s more we need to do to ensure that our admitted
students enroll here, thrive here, and achieve their
research and career goals. We’re starting by working
to increase the amount of financial student support
and to make financial aid more effective and transparent. Over the past 12 years,
we have tripled the amount of financial aid awarded each year. Student financial aid remains a priority for our fundraising
efforts, which will allow us to offer more generous
packages to admitted students. Provost Rowley has also
started a Fellowship Task Force designed to develop policies and practices to help students apply for
and win outside fellowships from Spencer, ARA, NSF, and other sources. We also must be
transparent about the terms of our financial aid packages. When students receive an
offer to admission to TC, they should know upfront how
much aid is being offered to them to fulfill their
degree requirements, not just for the first year, as has often been the
practice in the past. As we make TC more competitive
for the strongest students, we also need to create
clearer, better supported career pathways for them to
become great future scholars, practitioners and leaders
in education, psychology and health. To that end, we are doing two things. First, we have relocated most
of our student affairs offices and personnel to the
first floor of Thorndike, or Thorndike One, as we call it, with plans for creating
a student community hub. And second, we are working to
transform the Career Services, for an office that primarily
has offered tactical assistance to current students, into a comprehensive
full-service operation that not only helps all of our students chart and pursue pathways to
rewarding work and careers but also connects them
to our alumni network as a recruiting and mentoring resource. We already have begun a nationwide search for an experienced,
innovative and accomplished professional development and
career education professional with a proven track record. Digital innovation in the library. Many of you are aware that
there is lots going on in our libraries and
indeed, our next priority is to make our libraries more accessible and effective asset for teaching and learning and to turn the fourth and
fifth floors of Russell Hall into dynamic Center for
Digital Pedagogy and Research. One of our true crown
jewels of Teachers College is our Gottesman Library. The library is an exceptional facility with cutting edge resources, a staff of highly talented professionalS and the phenomenal multimedia
teaching and learning capabilities of the
Smith Learning Theater. It is also a popular place to engage in group and individual study. Our goals are to make the
library even more useful and relevant for everyone at TC. So our provost is working
with faculty and library staff to develop a vision of improved service in which everyone who enters those floors should be able to get what they need, whether it ultimately comes from our own shelves, our own services, or across the street at Columbia
or elsewhere in the city. The Smith Learning Theater
and EdLab have been deployed in good effect in many instances. For example, the Smith Learning Theater has hosted a steady stream
of innovative activities, including the recent STEAMnasium program that showcased digital pedagogic tools to an audience of teachers,
parents and students. EdLab has achieved notable
successes with projects that contribute to the advancement
of education writ large such as a virtual multimedia hub for TC’s Teaching the Levies curriculum about Hurricane Katrina. But those only scratch the
surface of TC’s involvement in potential with new technology. Indeed we have many classes,
labs and faculty projects that develop and use technology resources in teaching and learning. We are developing a center
that will be located in Russell that will bring together and help coordinate and
publicize this multitude of activities and technological assets. This center will include
the functions and staff of the Office of Digital Learning. This will be a resource
for faculty and students who want to learn how to use technology in their teaching, but this
center will also carry out research that will determine
the most effective practices to digital and technological
based instruction. We will be announcing concrete proposals, both for the library as well as for our Center
for Digital Pedagogy in the next two months,
so please stay tuned. Staff professional development. Next, we are working to make
excellence for all a reality that serves and benefits
our dedicated TC staff. It’s an old analogy, but this
organization is definitely a three-legged stool, with
faculty, students, and staff as the three legs. Take any of them away
and the stool collapses. For TC to flourish, we
need our staff employees to have the support that they need and to enjoy opportunities
for professional growth and development that
enable them to flourish. To that end, under the
leadership of JoAnne Williams, our relatively new vice president for finance and administration, Lisa Seals, our even newer
associate vice president for human resources, will
be rethinking our system for promoting wellness
and supporting training and professional development. We are looking to create more career related
development opportunities. I’m especially happy to
announce that we will change our practice on the taxation
of tuition remission for courses taken at TC. The taxation of those
benefits significantly reduces their value so starting
in January, any coursework at TC that is demonstrably
related to an employee’s job will no longer be treated
as taxable income. (crowd applauds) All right. Well, that shows you. All those big ideas and that’s the one that gets the applause. All right. All right, so Vice President
Williams is also working on several system reforms designed to make our lives easier and
our work more effective. This one might work too. These include new budgeting
models that will give us a better sense of how we use our resources and how we should plan for the future, and simplification of some of our favorite administrative systems, such as PageUp and Chrome River. All right. (audience applauds) Okay, I know how to write
this speech next year. (audience laughs) All right, so finally, in terms of promoting academic excellence and providing thoughtful
institutional support for individual and collective achievement, we must continue to work towards ensuring that everyone who works
here, or studies here, or walks through our doors, feels safe, respected and warmly
welcomed to our community. In short, our commitment
to our sense of community, to diversity, equity, and inclusion is one of our highest priorities. To be sure, the college
has made great progress, especially over the past two decades, in creating a more inclusive
and equitable environment and more diverse community. This work, the work of
several key committees and task forces on
diversity, community, race and culture brought
about significant changes that have strengthened the college, including notably the establishment of what is now the Office
of the Vice President for Diversity and Community Affairs, led by Janice Robinson. But we have achieved greater diversity in student enrollment and
employments and promotion for faculty and staff, but
we still have much to do. For students, to that
end, we are introducing at Teachers College the
Diversity Scholarship to help attract students from historically under-represented groups and low-income students. Furthermore, in the
coming weeks and months, the provost and I will
announce new initiatives that will focus on encouraging robust, mutually respective dialogue
on diversifying the curriculum and on improving inclusive
teaching and mentoring practices and on creating a harassment-free
and bias-free institution. (audience applauds) I hope that all of you will join me in making Teachers College
the best version of itself by becoming a better and
more inclusive community. Now as Teachers College
president, I have many reasons for being thankful to all of you. I’m thankful for the
support and encouragement and particularly for
your friendly greetings. I’m thankful for your ideas
and honest, and I mean it, critical feedback that
you’ve shared and I plan to create more opportunities for you to continue doing so. I’m especially thankful
to have been joined in the last several months
by two exceptional partners who are playing crucial roles in all of the work that
I’ve discussed today. Our new vice president for
finance and administration JoAnne Williams and our new, okay. (audience applauds) And our new provost,
dean of the college and vice president for academic
affairs, Stephanie Rowley. (audience applauds) Getting through all of that
title is quite an achievement, isn’t that right? So as all of you continue
getting to know JoAnne and Stephanie, you will see
how fortunate we all are to have them at TC. But if I had to choose
a word that captures what I am most thankful
for, it would be dedication, meaning your unwavering
dedication to Teachers College. I recognize that change can be difficult and even unsettling, yet you’ve remained focused on your work, reflecting your dedication
to creating a stronger TC, a better future for everyone, and for that, I will always be grateful. Thank you. (audience applauds)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *