Leonard and Judy Lauder and The Charina Endowment Fund Generously Support the GC

February 7, 2018

Major gifts support the Graduate Center's Teaching & Learning Center, which prepares doctoral students to teach thousands of students at CUNY.

GCFlag on building

Each year, doctoral students at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY) teach over 180,000 CUNY undergraduates, bringing fresh perspectives and new knowledge to the classrooms of the nation’s largest public urban university. Two gifts from Leonard and Judy Lauder and The Charina Endowment Fund, Inc. — which currently stand at $650,000 — will enhance the Graduate Center’s ability to prepare its students to teach CUNY’s diverse and digitally savvy students. 

Both gifts support the Graduate Center’s Teaching & Learning Center (TLC) — one of the few teaching centers dedicated to working exclusively with graduate student instructors. The TLC offers a wealth of programs and resources to guide Graduate Center students as they teach at CUNY and plan for careers within and beyond the academy. 

With the Lauders’ gift, the Graduate Center has established the Lauder Master Teacher Fellowships. The Lauder postdoctoral fellows will collaborate with TLC staff on current initiatives and develop new ones to help GC students grow as educators and scholars.

A contribution from The Charina Endowment Fund will support the TLC’s Teach@CUNY Summer Institute.

“We are enormously grateful to Leonard and Judy Lauder and to The Charina Endowment Fund for their magnanimity and investment in our work,” said Graduate Center President Chase F. Robinson. “The Graduate Center stands apart in its dedication to creating a community of scholars and teachers who think broadly about the future of education, both at the graduate and undergraduate levels. The TLC is just one example of this commitment, and we’re delighted to receive funding that will help us translate our vision into action.”

“New York City’s commitment to public education has meant a great deal to me, to my family, and to so many at the Esteé Lauder Companies,” said Leonard A. Lauder. “My wife, Judy, and I are delighted to be able to give back by supporting the Graduate Center’s teacher training. By enhancing the education of so many CUNY undergraduates, we hope to keep all of CUNY strong and accessible into the future.”

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Research has shown that CUNY excels at propelling its diverse students into the middle and upper classes. Graduate Center students who teach CUNY undergraduates play a crucial part in this success. A recent study suggests that when undergraduates take their first course in a subject from a graduate student, they are more likely to major in that subject.

Established in 2015, the TLC has become a vital resource for Graduate Center students. Each year, the TLC works with hundreds of doctoral students, who participate in its workshops, attend office hours, and take advantage of its extensive online resources, such as the Teach@CUNY Handbook and its teaching and learning blog, Visible Pedagogy. The TLC encourages innovation in teaching through initiatives such as a grants program, which helps students create and test new pedagogical approaches. It has also created focused inquiry groups in which students and faculty explore new methods and topics, such as how to adapt museum pedagogy to higher education and interdisciplinary approaches to teaching about water justice.

“The TLC organizes workshops on a range of topics, and each time that I have attended, I can truly say that it has been a valuable experience,” said Graduate Center doctoral candidate Inés Vañó García (Latin American, Iberian, and Latino Cultures). “Now, I am able to experiment with my own teaching and learning practices without being afraid of failure.”

Last year, the TLC hosted a successful Teach@CUNY Summer Institute, an intensive course preparation seminar for Graduate Center students. With The Charina Endowment Fund gift, the TLC will be able to repeat and scale up the institute in 2018 and 2019 and offer honoraria to the students who participate.

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The Lauder fellows — postdoctoral researchers who have proven themselves in the classroom — will bring welcome experience and ideas to the TLC. Over the course of their two-year fellowships, they will develop and implement workshops, webinars, and web resources on topics such as writing across the curriculum, quantitative literacy, teaching with digital tools, and preparing teaching portfolios for the job market. The fellows will also be supported in publishing their own scholarly work and developing new research projects. This fellowship will give Graduate Center students a rare opportunity to learn from near-peers who have demonstrated excellence in teaching.

“It’s exciting to receive such generous support from Leonard and Judy Lauder and The Charina Endowment Fund,” said Luke Waltzer, director of the TLC and a Graduate Center alumnus. “Their contributions are emblematic of their belief in our mission and will impact not only the hundreds of graduate students we work with at the TLC, but also the thousands of undergraduates that they teach.”


Photo by Alex Irklievski.