Beloved President Arthur E. Levine Leaves Teachers College, Columbia University
When Arthur E. Levine assumed the presidency of Teachers College on November 17, 1994, he stated, “To be entrusted with this historic legacy as ninth president of Teachers College is the greatest honor of my life.”
On May 24, 2006, the trustees of Teachers College and about 500 guests assembled to bid a reluctant farewell to a much beloved president. Levine is assuming the presidency of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation in Princeton, New Jersey.
Amidst speeches and applause, tears and kisses, surrounded by a compendium of “who’s who” in education, a doctoral music student played the old favorite, “Don’t know much about history…”. A whimsical visual showed Levine throughout the years from babyhood to the present illustrating his remarkable trajectory from a humble apartment in the Bronx, New York to his studies at Harvard and eventually, Teachers College.
Levine’s scholarly research interests range from ensuring national fiscal equity in education to a Latino family that is currently living in his old Bronx apartment, visiting and sharing their lives and education. His acute observations and erudition are legendary; he’s also very much a humanist. Words that he uttered en passant will always linger with me: the danger in our society is not that there are beggars and hungry people on our streets. It’s that we pass them as if they’re invisible.
William Rueckert, Trustee of Teachers College and a scion of the Dodge family, founders of Teachers College, shared the following sentiments with the assemblage: “Arthur, you’ve done everything an institution can ask of its president and more. And somehow you’ve managed to be yourself—an honest, caring, tough, gentle individual who tells it straight and acts on his beliefs. So Arthur, we wish you success and God speed, happiness and peace of mind. In the words of your hero, Edward R. Murrow—‘Good night and good luck.’”