Abby M. O’Neill gives $11 Million to Teachers College for scholarship support

Lauren Williams's picture
Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Teachers College, Columbia University, has received an extraordinary $11 million commitment from longtime Trustee Abby M. O’Neill. The gift reflects Mrs. O’Neill’s passion for supporting New York City’s schools. To meet the urgent need for well-prepared teachers, Mrs. O’Neill has chosen to make an outright $1 million gift to establish the Abby M. O’Neill Fellowship Program for outstanding individuals with a strong commitment to teaching in New York City’s public schools.

The first cohort of O’Neill Fellows will arrive at TC this fall to earn dual certification in areas of great need for New York City schools, such as science/inclusive education, elementary education/bilingual, or TESOL (the teaching of English to speakers of other languages). Through the support of the O’Neill Fellowship Program, they will be able to graduate virtually debt-free.

Mrs. O’Neill’s outright gift creates a total of 24 Fellowships of $35,000 each for students pursuing dual certifications in areas of high need in New York City public schools.

“We’re tremendously excited about this fellowship program as it speaks to the very essence of the TC mission,” TC President Susan Fuhrman said at a luncheon earlier today, at which Mrs. O’Neill was honored for her support of education and Teachers College. “And we’re so grateful for Abby’s service as a trustee and for her wise counsel. In fact, Abby’s support for TC is in her very blood. After all, she is the great-granddaughter of John D. Rockefeller, who also served as a TC trustee and gave generously to TC at a critical time in our history.”

Mrs. O’Neill was honored in the company of her children and their families, close friends who are affiliated with TC, and other members of the College’s board, as well as faculty have benefited from her support. Also on hand were members of the entering cohort of O’Neill Fellows. 

Mrs. O’Neill joined the Teachers College’s Board in 2004. Since then the O’Neills have created a chaired professorship: the George and Abby O’Neill Economics and Education Chair, currently filled by Thomas Bailey, director of TC’s Community College Research Center and the National Center for Post-Secondary Research.  Abby O’Neill also has served as a member of TC’s President’s Advisory Council.

Teachers College ( is the nation’s oldest and largest graduate school of education and perennially ranked among its very best.