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In 1880, the Kitchen Education Association (KEA) was founded by philanthropist Grace Hoadley Dodge, the daughter of wealthy businessman William Dodge. The association's focus was to replace miniature kitchen utensils for other toys that were age-appropriate for kindergarten-aged girls. In 1884, the KEA was rebranded to the Industrial Education Association (IEA), in the spirit of widening its mission to boys and parents. Three years later, it moved to the former Union Theological Seminary building on University Place, as well as founded a coeducational private school called the Horace Mann School.
In 1887 William Vanderbilt Jr. offered a substantial financial sum to the IEA. With the support of Dodge, Vanderbilt appointed Nicholas Murray Butler, the future longest-serving president of Columbia University and Nobel Peace Prize recipient, as new president of the IEA. The IEA decided to provide schooling for the teachers of the poor children of New York City. Thus, in 1887-1888, it employed six instructors and enrolled thirty-six juniors in its inaugural class as well as eighty-six special students. To reflect the broadening mission of education beyond the original philanthropic intent set forth by Dodge, the IEA changed its name to the New York School for the Training of Teachers, and received its temporary charter from the New York State Board of Regents.
By October 1890, the school's trustees were looking for a new campus, as the University Place campus was considered too small. After discussion with Columbia University president Seth Low, the trustees settled on a site in Morningside Heights, near where Columbia's campus was being built. In 1892, the name of the New York School for the Training of Teachers was again changed to Teachers College. The next year, Teachers College and Columbia University were affiliated with each other, and the trustees acquired land for the new College campus in Morningside Heights. The buildings for the campus of the College were designed by William Appleton Potter. The first structure in the original complex, Main Hall, was completed in late 1894; the last, Milbank Memorial Hall, was finished three years later.
The curriculum combined a humanitarian concern to help others with a scientific approach to human development. The College was affiliated with Columbia University in 1898 as the University's Graduate School of Education. A new building for Horace Mann was erected in 1899, followed by the Frederick Ferris Thompson Memorial Hall in 1902-1904. Additionally, a four-wing dormitory building, called Whittier Hall, was built in 1900-1901. Enrollment increased quickly: the graduating class of 1911 contained 686 students, as opposed to the 26 students in the first graduating class.
The founders early recognized that professional teachers need reliable knowledge about the conditions under which children learn most effectively. As a result, the college's program from the start included such fundamental subjects as educational psychology and educational sociology. The founders also insisted that education must be combined with clear ideas about ethics and the nature of a good society; consequently, programs were developed in the history of education and in comparative education.
Teachers College was also associated with philosopher and public intellectual John Dewey, who served as president of the American Psychological Association and the American Philosophical Association, and was a professor at the facility from 1904 until his retirement in 1930.
Teachers College buildings on Broadway and 120th St., looking northwest
The school offers Master of Arts (M.A.), Master of Education (Ed.M.), Master of Science (M.S.), Doctor of Education (Ed.D.), and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees in over sixty programs of study. Despite the college's name, less than one-third of students are preparing to become teachers. Graduates pursue careers, for example, in the social sciences, health and health promotion, educational policy, technology, international and comparative education, as well as educational leadership.
According to former president Susan Fuhrman, Teachers College, Columbia University provides solutions to the difficult problems of urban education, reaffirming its original mission in providing a new kind of education for those left most in need by society or circumstance. The college continues its collaborative research with urban and suburban school systems that strengthen teaching in such fundamental areas as reading, writing, science, mathematics, and the arts; prepares leaders to develop and administer psychological and health care programs in schools, businesses, hospitals and community agencies; and advances technology for the classroom, developing new teaching software and keeping teachers abreast of new developments.
Teachers College also houses a wide range of applied psychology degrees, including one of the nation's leading programs in Organizational Psychology. Every year Captains from the United States Military Academy at West Point are selected for the Eisenhower Leader Development Program (ELDP) and complete the Organizational Psychology M.A. Program to become Tactical Officers (TAC) at West Point.
The college also houses the programs in Anthropology. It was foundational in the development of the field of Anthropology and Education. By the 1930s, Teachers College had begun to offer courses in anthropology as part of the foundations of education. By 1948 Margaret Mead started what would be a long association with Teachers College where she taught until the early 1970s. In 1953 Solon Kimball joined the faculty. In 1954 nine professors (including Mead and Solon Kimball) came together to discuss the topic. In the 1960s, these people formed the Council on Anthropology and Education within the American Anthropological Association, and it is still considered as the leading organization in the field.
Margaret Mead, became President of the American Anthropological Association in 1960
The student experience at Teachers College is governed by a student senate, headed by the Senate President, followed by the Vice-President, Parliamentarian, Communications Officer, and Treasurer. Two Senators, a Master's candidate, & a PhD candidate, are elected each year to represent each academic department at Teachers College to advocate on behalf of current students and Alumni. The TC Senate meets bi-weekly to determine what issues need to be investigated.
Arts & Humanities
Counseling & Clinical Psychology
Curriculum & Teaching
Education Policy & Social Analysis
Health & Behavioral Studies
International & Transcultural Studies
Mathematics, Science & Technology
Organization & Leadership
For 2021, U.S. News & World Report ranked Teachers College No. 8 among all graduate schools of education in the United States. In 2008, 2002, 1998, 1997, and 1996, Teachers College was ranked at No. 1 by the publication.
Admissions are highly selective, especially for PhD applicants.
Teachers College graduates are awarded Columbia University degrees. Teachers College is statutorily prohibited from conferring its own degrees. Although the College houses PhD programs, these degrees are conferred by the University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in a manner analogous to the PhD programs of the University's other professional schools.
Teachers College serves as Columbia University's graduate and professional school of education by virtue of its designation as the University's Faculty and Department of Education. However, the College holds its own corporate status, including an independent administrative structure, board of trustees, and endowment. Graduates receive Columbia University diplomas.
While Teachers College faculty appointments are approved by Teachers College's board of trustees at the discretion of the president of Columbia University, "Columbia University [has] no responsibility for salaries, tenure, or retirement allowances" of officers of Teachers College.
Teachers College shares academic and institutional resources with greater Columbia University including courses of instruction (students may take courses at the Graduate School of Business, the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), etc.), libraries, health service systems, research centers, classrooms, special event facilities and the Dodge Fitness Center. (The Teachers College Aquatic Center has the oldest indoor pool still in use in all of New York City, as well as one of the oldest in the country).
Columbia student athletes eligible to play their 5th year in the Ivy League can continue their studies at Teachers College and play on Lions' sports teams. Columbia student athletes that graduate in 3 years, as well, can continue playing their last year of eligibility in the Ivy League by continuing at Teachers College.
The Columbia University Senate includes faculty and student representatives from Teachers College who serve two-year terms; all senators are accorded full voting privileges regarding matters impacting the entire University. The president of Teachers College is a dean in the University's governance structure.
The college has three residence halls for single students. They are 517 West 121st, Grant Hall, and Whittier Hall. The college has three residence halls for family housing. They are Bancroft Hall, Grant Hall, and Sarasota Hall. One bedroom apartments are available for childless students and students who have one child. Two and three-bedroom apartments are available for students who have more than one child.
Lowell Hall and Seth Low Hall have faculty housing units.
Teachers College Press, founded in 1904, is the national and international book publishing arm of Teachers College and is dedicated to deepening the understanding and improving the practice of education.
Teachers College also publishes The Hechinger Report, a non-profit, non-partisan education news outlet focused on inequality and innovation in education that launched in May 2010.