Profiles in Education:
TC Trustee William Dodge Rueckert, A Legacy of Education
Inheriting a mantle to serve education and particularly advance the mission of Teachers College, Columbia University, William Dodge Rueckert, his moderate tone in no way masking his heartfelt dedication, speaks eloquently of his family’s long tradition with the 119-year old teaching institution, beginning with the vision of a remarkable woman, his great aunt, Grace Hoadley Dodge, who wanted to start—and did—a school for immigrant women. Fostered in great part by William Dodge Rueckert’s grandfather, Cleveland E. Dodge, who was a TC trustee for 67 years, and supported by the Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation, named in honor of Grace Dodge’s brother, and a source of both specific and unrestricted funding, the TC mission has widened and deepened over the years. Although Bill Rueckert has served on the TC board for nine years—he modestly insists he is just one of several hard-working members—he has been, since 2003, co-chair of the board (with Jack Hyland), during which time the trustees appointed a new president to succeed the legendary Arthur Levine, and recommitted itself to TC’s long-range Campaign for Education Equity. Most education schools, Bill Rueckert says, “will talk about quality educators for quality education,” but TC is unique in ensuring that its campaign “is made a matter of public record and the central focus of its other endeavors.”
Without missing a beat, Bill Rueckert, who is president of a private investment firm and who also serves as director and president of the Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation, a main funding source for TC, notes the extraordinary accomplishments of the Levine administration, especially in consolidating departments, in fundraising (“realizing a $155 million-capital campaign is almost unheard of”) and in public relations. TC, always on the national charts, is now on the global map. He also points to the rigorous application process that led to the selection this past spring of Dr. Susan Fuhrman as TC’s new president. Significantly, the board includes a student, Bill Rueckert points out. He sees nothing but a “great future” for the “incredibly talented” Dr. Fuhrman, as she implements TC’s goal of continuing to emphasize research and development in areas that will expand educational opportunity for all and that will also enhance programs that can take advantage of TC “wonderful new facilities.” These include an up-to-date library, with ample technology, and meeting space, and a new auditorium, soon to open.
A product of New Hampshire public schools and college, where he majored in Spanish and minored in business, Bill Rueckert, with a substantial track record working abroad, also sits on the board of an independent school for boys, K-9 in Fairfield County, Connecticut, an experience he finds “fascinating,” particularly as it complements the work he does at TC, and causes him to reflect on salient educational issues that public and private schools have in common. He is also director of the YMCA of Greater New York, proud to be part of a tradition identified with his Great Aunt Grace (1856-1914) who became the first president of the national YWCA. He serves as well as trustee and chairman of the Executive Committee of International House at Columbia, and as a director of Wave Hill that spectacular family-friendly and educational public garden and cultural center in the northwest Bronx. Bill Rueckert is obviously a man who wants everything he’s involved with to bloom.#