Teachers College Dean Plans Higher Profile for Institution
Baker would be very proud.
Darlyne Bailey, the recently appointed Vice President for Academic
Affairs and Dean of Teachers College, is quick to acknowledge
the many mentors and influences in her life who’ve helped
her achieve her stunning professional success.
One in particular stands out: Dean Bailey’s much beloved
and admired kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Baker.
was awesome,” said Dean Bailey, affection and gratitude
shading her words. “Mrs. Baker told me that I should pay
attention to my voice, because other little kids paid attention
when I spoke. She said it was one of the gifts I had and that
I should know that. For me, she modeled what the perfect teacher
is, someone who believes that everyone is born with a gift.”
During an energetic and far-ranging one-hour conversation, it
quickly became clear that Dean Bailey gets what education is
about. That, at its core, it’s about that magic relationship
between one particular teacher, and one particular student,
that “allows everyone to feel valued and valuable, and
able to be their most authentic self,” as Dean Bailey
said. “It’s about finding ways to bring out the
best in people, and help them succeed. When I’m meeting
with someone, I want every single person to know that they are
most important to me.”
That philosophy has imbued Dean Bailey’s activities since
she arrived at the Morningside Heights campus eight and a half
months ago, as the first African-American woman to sit in the
Dean’s chair at Teachers College. During this time, she
has been pursuing a “listen and learn” strategy,
meeting with her colleagues among the students, faculty, staff
and community to understand more completely the strengths and
resources of what is widely acknowledged as the premier graduate
education program in the country.
really take this job as a service, with the idea of leadership
in service,” Dean Bailey said. “I see the faculty,
students, staff, emeriti faculty, alumni board and community
as stakeholders here, with a vested interested in our presence.
I believe that my job is to make sure the work of the college
endures. It’s like the Native American philosophy, that
says we’re building for seven generations to come.”
Not surprising, perhaps, for someone trained in social work
and organizational behavior and who has, since 1994 until arriving
at Teachers College, been Dean and Professor at the Mandel School
of Applied Social Sciences at
Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. Dean Bailey
also held a secondary appointment in that university’s
Weatherhead School of Management.
job is to serve,” Dean Bailey insisted. “Deaning
has been most humbling. You can’t be a leader without
people believing you’re a leader. People have to want
to work with you, and you have to have the ability to know when
to get out of the way.”
Like the student-centered classrooms, which she champions, Dean
Bailey fervently believes, almost as a doctrine of faith, that
“everybody is a teacher/learner. You create a place where
students know their ideas are valued. Education has to be reciprocal.
I left the world of teaching when I felt that teachers weren’t
embracing the whole child in the context of his/her community,
and I went into the field of social work. I think I’ve
always looked at the world this way, that no one profession
can do it alone. Social work and education are vehicles to change
the social condition.”
Towards that end, Dean Bailey is building bridges throughout
the immediate neighborhood, among the various Teachers College
groups, within Columbia University itself, and in New York City
at large. Within the local community, for example, she is emphatic
that Teachers College not come in as the ‘expert,’
but rather as a listening partner to understand what the community
really needs and how Teachers College can best serve those needs.
Besides working closely with the local public school district,
Teachers College has recently started working with a small Catholic
elementary school in the area, St. Charles Borromeo. Dean Bailey
has been meeting with the Teachers College alumni council, and
recently launched a Dean’s Alumni Advisory Group as well.
She has also met with New York City’s new chancellor,
Joel Klein, to discuss proposals and strategies that would enable
the city’s Department of Education to benefit from Teachers
College expertise and resources. As one example, Dean Bailey
cited the recent change in the recruitment schedule–by
the time New York City recruits at Teachers College and elsewhere,
many of the most promising candidates have already been hired
by competing suburban districts.
Teachers College, with its Peace Corps Fellows program, Teachers
Institute, Principals Fellowship program, and other programs,
is well poised to share its plentiful resources with both the
local community, and the larger New York City community.
are pockets that know what we do,” said Dean Bailey. “But
Teachers College needs to be much more visible. When we’re
more visible, we can be more impactful. We’re considering
the question of how can we put together a college wide plan,
and go to the Mayor and Chancellor saying, ‘this is what
TC can do. You’ve got problems. We’ve got solutions.’”
Dean Bailey is also looking to expand Teachers College’s
relationships with other graduate schools within Columbia University,
as well as with other New York City schools of education, and
is excited about their newly formed alliance.
It’s clear that Dean Bailey is used to breaking barriers,
something she does with apparent ease. During her tenure as
Dean at Case Western Reserve (where she was also the first African-American
woman, and the youngest, to hold that position), Dean Bailey
chaired the governing body of the Mandel Center for Nonprofit
Organizations where one of her most significant accomplishments
was facilitating a new outcomes-oriented curriculum. Dean Bailey
also chaired the governing body of the Mandel Center for Nonprofit
Although born in Harlem, her family moved to Englewood, New
Jersey, where she and her younger sister were among the first
African- American students to move through a newly desegregated
public school system. Dean Bailey entered Lafayette College
as one of the first women (as well as one of the first African-Americans),
and early on learned to deal with both racism and sexism.
Not surprising, then, that Dean Bailey has thought carefully
about diversity, and its importance both in the classroom, and
in Teachers College.
you don’t pay attention to the voice of the other, then
everyone loses,” she said.
Still, what resonates most deeply with Dean Bailey is a profound
love of education.
mother told my sister and me that we could do anything we wanted
to do,” said Dean Bailey. “She told us that we were
a mixture of all God’s good things, and that has kept
me both humble and proud. I come from a family of strong people–my
father worked three jobs–and strong women, who believed
in education. My mother is a very strong woman, and I feel I’m
genetically predisposed to taking on hard stuff.” Dean
Bailey’s sister is a middle school physical education
I’ve ever done in my life has led me to this,” Dean
Bailey said. “I believe that things happen in the right
way at precisely the right time.”#
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