Two longtime supporters of Teachers College, Columbia University, have pledged $20 million to help prepare educators for leadership in independent schools.
The donation from John and Pat Klingenstein, of New York City, is the largest gift in the college’s history, college officials said.
The bulk of the gift, announced Feb. 29, will provide scholarships for educators at various career stages who have potential for leadership.
“There are significant numbers of leaders retiring,” Pearl R. Kane, the director of the college’s Klingenstein Center for Independent School Leadership, said in explaining the importance of the gift. “Because independent schools are self-contained, leadership is very important in every respect,” she said.
Leaders of those privately funded, self-governing schools, which often charge high tuition but also offer financial aid, have the tricky challenge of pursuing diverse missions, such as providing racial and socio-economic diversity in their enrollments, remaining affordable, yet also attracting highly capable teachers, Ms. Kane said.
The leadership center, founded in 1978, enrolls about 200 student in its degree and fellowship programs and says it has 3,000 alumni working at top private educational institutions.
Programs for new and midcareer teachers are aimed at keeping them in the profession and preparing them for administrative leadership. The center’s programs also target administrators who are seeking to hone their leadership skills for the private school sector.
Courses emphasize the educational uses of equity, collaboration, and teamwork; knowledge of instructional practice; and reflection, Ms. Kane said.
The scholarships will be awarded on the basis of need and merit, including “upstanding character, as well as ability,” she added.
John Klingenstein, 79, has been a trustee of Teachers College since 1979. He is the president of the Esther A. and Joseph Klingenstein Fund, established by his parents, which, separate from the new gift, has over time given Teachers College more than $20 million.
A version of this article appeared in the March 12, 2008 edition of Education Week