Celebrating the 2024 Faculty Appreciation Awards What You Should Know About Xingzhi Tao, the TC Alum Who Helped Modernize Educat…

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In gratitude for their immense impact on students, the Teachers College community has honored faculty members Jack McGourty and Zachary J. Van Rossum (Ed.D. ’13) with the Teaching Award, and recognized Sonya Troller-Renfree with the Mentoring Award. 
“Appreciation seems an understatement for how grateful I am, especially over the last few weeks, for how you’ve shown up and come together,” President Thomas Bailey told faculty at a special celebration for Faculty Appreciation Week, citing all of the ways faculty work to ensure that “TC continues to shine as a beacon of creative thought and leadership across the fields of education, health, and psychology.”

 Zachary J. Van Rossum, Jack McGourty and Sonya Troller-Renfree (Photos: TC Archives) 

Bestowed solely through a vote among students, the awards accompany praise for numerous scholars who have made profound differences for dozens of students and alumni across their lives, careers and academic pursuits. 
“Every day our TC faculty show up on behalf of their students — as teachers and mentors, as program directors and chairs, scholars, center directors and colleagues. They act to raise critical awareness of issues in their fields and work hard to make TC a better place to learn and shape the public good,” said KerryAnn O’Meara, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Provost and Dean of the College. “Our long-term recognition ceremony further recognizes the talent our faculty bring over many years to TC — changing what we study, how we teach, and how we know and operate. They are the heart of what makes TC so special, and we thank them.”
As part of Faculty Appreciation Week, many students and alumni shared memories and praise for many faculty in honor of the occasion. 
“This annual celebration offers a meaningful opportunity for our entire community to reflect on the profound learning and growth that our faculty champion at TC,” explains Marie Miville, Vice Dean for Faculty Affairs and Professor of Psychology and Education. “Each year, the moving reflections of alumni and students often remind us of the importance of remaining mindful, caring and supportive of one another.” 


Praise for Jack McGourty

“Dr. Jack brings an incredibly refreshing and practical perspective to this course. His main goal is to ensure each students’ venture has the best chance to succeed in the real world. His passion for helping spiritually based entrepreneurs is inspiring and…allows for students whose passion is to bring the SMB focus into the real world to create practical applications outside of an academic track.”

Anonymous Student [Editor’s Note: This quote has been edited for length and clarity]

Praise for Zachary J. Van Rossum

“[Dr. Van Rossum came] cares deeply about getting to know his students on a human level…He goes above and beyond for each of his students and is incredibly thoughtful and intentional about making the course as relevant as possible to the wide range of industries and lines of work his students are in. His energy and love for the material is infectious and he does an excellent job of making complex concepts accessible to all of us.”

Anonymous Student [Editor’s Note: This quote has been edited for length and clarity]

Praise for Sonya Troller-Renfree

“Beyond her aid and unfaltering support of my career, as well as her incredible knowledge in EEG, the space she has created in her laboratory for all students is incredibly rare…I cannot imagine a more professional, intelligent, and supportive mentor during my graduate years. Dr. Sonya Troller-Renfree is the most deserving of this award not only for how she has mentored myself and my fellow labmates, but how she is a mentor to all graduate students eager to learn.”

Anonymous Student [Editor’s Note: This quote has been edited for length and clarity]

The Teaching Award recipients were recognized during a special reception for faculty in recognition of their roles as teachers, advisors and mentors on May 9. 
“Winning the 2023-24 Teaching Award is a profound honor that underscores my commitment to blending academic rigor with practical application in the classroom,” says McGourty, Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Counseling & Clinical Psychology. “Having been part of the Columbia faculty for 25 years, I am deeply grateful that my students value this approach and its positive impact on their ability to make a difference in the world.” 
For honoree Van Rossum, the award reflects his efforts to create a profound learning experience for students in the Organization & Leadership Department, from which he graduated himself. “I try to create learning through collaboration and connect students in the room, because so much of learning is in the experiences,” explains the alum, a lecturer who is inspired by TC’s legacy of innovation through scholars like John Dewey. “You feel that lineage, and there’s a sense of being part of something larger.”

Recognizing Retiring Faculty
The reception also included a special farewell to the below retiring faculty members, who have each made an indelible impact on the College and our community. 

In addition to the Teaching Award, students voted to recognize Troller-Renfree with the inaugural Priscilla Wohlstetter Faculty Mentoring Award for her profound impact on their academic and professional growth. 
“Being a mentor is something that I care about immensely and it’s something that I put a lot of thought and intention into,” says the Assistant Professor of Developmental Psychology. “It’s so validating to hear that my students see that…Since this is a new award, I didn’t know it existed and it’s something I didn’t try for, which makes it more special to me. What a wonderful honor for the College to have.” 
Troller-Renfree’s honor was established by Wohlstetter, Distinguished Research Professor Emerita, to inspire exceptional mentorship among College Faculty. 
At the College, Troller-Renfree’s research examines the impacts of stress and early adversity on cognitive and neural development. She has authored more than 50 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, and has received over $1 million in funding including the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award from NICHD. Her ongoing research examines the impact of child and parental stress on brain development and cognition as a predictor of socioemotional functioning and school readiness. Troller-Renfree also leads EEG data collection and analysis on the Baby’s First Years study – a randomized control trial of poverty reduction.
In addition to teaching at TC, McGourty serves as an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School, specializing in entrepreneurship and innovation, and has been a member of the Columbia academic community for more than 25 years. His excellence in teaching has been recognized with the Columbia Engineering School’s Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award and the Columbia Business School’s Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence. Dr. McGourty is an inaugural faculty fellow of the School of Professional Studies and a long-term pre-college program instructor. He co-authors the bestselling textbook “Patterns of Entrepreneurship Management” (Wiley, 2020), now in its 6th edition, and has recently published the e-textbook “Entrepreneurial Innovation and Finance” (McGraw Hill, 2024).
Van Rossum applies his experience as a strategy consultant and leadership coach to his instruction at the College, where he has supported Organizational & Leadership students for more than 13 years. He specializes in leadership decision-making and complex problem solving, focuses of his consulting firm and his full-time experience working with organizations. With his company Springpoint Partners, Van Rossum designs and delivers customized training and organizational development intervention programs to improve employee performance.
[Honorable mentions for faculty appreciation awards include: Matt Zajic, Assistant Professor of Intellectual Disability/Autism; Kiara Manosalvas, Lecturer, Counseling Psychology; and Daniel Tomasulo, Lecturer, Clinical Psychology.] 

Published Wednesday, Jul 10, 2024

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