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In gratitude for their immense impact on students, the Teachers College community 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.

“Recognition seems an understatement for my gratitude, especially in the last few weeks, for your coming and gathering,” President Thomas Bailey told faculty members at a special celebration of Faculty Appreciation Week, noting all the ways the faculty is working to ensure that “TC continues to shine as a beacon of creative thinking and leadership in the fields of education, health and psychology.”

Zachary J. Van Rossum, Jack McGourty and Sonya Troller-Renfree

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

The awards are given solely by student vote and honor numerous scholars who have made a profound difference in the lives, careers, and academic trajectories of dozens of students and alumni.

“Every day, our TC faculty speak up on behalf of their students – as teachers and mentors, as program directors and leaders, scholars, center leaders, and colleagues. They are committed to raising critical awareness of issues in their fields and work hard to make TC a better place to learn and advance the common good,” said KerryAnn O’Meara, vice president for academic affairs, provost and dean of the college. “Our long-term recognition ceremony also recognizes the talent our faculty have brought to TC over many years – they have changed what we study, how we teach, and how we know and work. They are at the heart of what makes TC special, and we thank them.”

During Faculty Appreciation Week, many students and alumni shared memories and praised numerous faculty members.

“This annual celebration provides a meaningful opportunity for our entire community to reflect on the profound learning and growth our faculty foster at TC,” said Marie Miville, associate dean for faculty affairs and professor of psychology and education. “Each year, the stirring reflections of alumni and students often remind us of the importance of being thoughtful, caring, and supportive of one another.”

The teaching award winners were honored for their roles as teachers, advisors and mentors at a special reception for faculty members on May 9.

“Winning the 2023-24 teaching award is a great honor that underscores my commitment to combining academic rigor with practical application in the classroom,” says McGourty, adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Counseling and 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 award winner Van Rossum, the award reflects his efforts to provide a deep learning experience for students in the Organization & Leadership department, from which he himself graduated. “I try to facilitate collaborative learning and connect students in the room because a big part of learning is in the experiences,” explains the graduate, a lecturer who draws inspiration from TC’s legacy of innovation through scholars such as John Dewey. “You feel that lineage and feel like you’re part of something bigger.”

In addition to the teaching award, students presented Troller-Renfree with the first Priscilla Wohlstetter Faculty Mentoring Award for her profound influence on their academic and professional development.

“Being a mentor is very important to me and I’ve put a lot of thought and effort into it,” 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 didn’t seek it out, which makes it even more special to me. What a wonderful honor for the college.”

The Troller-Renfree Honor was established by Wohlstetter, research professor emeritus, to recognize exceptional mentoring among college professors.

At college, Troller-RenfreeTroller-Renfree’s research examines the effects 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 grants, including the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award from the NICHD. Her ongoing research examines the effects of child and parent stress on brain development and reasoning skills as a predictor of socioemotional functioning and school readiness. Troller-Renfree also leads EEG data collection and analysis for the Baby’s First Years Study – a randomized controlled trial to reduce poverty.

In addition to my teaching activities at TC McGourty is an associate professor at Columbia Business School specializing in entrepreneurship and innovation and has been a member of Columbia’s 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 a founding member of the School of Professional Studies and a long-time lecturer in the pre-degree program. He is co-author of the bestselling textbook Patterns of Entrepreneurship Management (Wiley, 2020), now in its 6th edition, and recently published the e-textbook Entrepreneurial Innovation and Finance (McGraw Hill, 2024).

Van Rossum He applies his experience as a strategy consultant and leadership coach to his teaching at the college, where he has been supporting organizational and leadership students for more than 13 years. He specializes in leadership decision-making and complex problem-solving, focal points of his consulting business and his full-time experience working with organizations. Through his company, Springpoint Partners, Van Rossum designs and delivers customized training and organizational development programs to improve employee performance.

(Honorable mentions for faculty awards include: Matt Zajic, assistant professor of intellectual disability/autism; Kiara Manosalvas, instructor of counseling psychology; and Daniel Tomasulo, instructor of clinical psychology.)