Columbians Ahead of Their Time
 Thomas Howard Kean
Thomas Howard Kean "Teaching is the only job I have ever had that can compare to being governor of a great state."

Thomas Howard Kean (1935– )
Teachers College 1963
Teachers College Trustee 1990–98

A two-term governor of New Jersey noted for his leadership on education policy, Thomas Kean returned to public prominence in late 2002 as chairman of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks in the United States. For the next 18 months he was widely praised for helping to minimize partisanship on the panel that scrutinized the nation's preparedness following September 11, 2001. A moderate Republican with ten years' experience in the state assembly, Kean was elected governor in 1981 by fewer than 1,800 votes, but four years later won reelection by a historic margin. Beyond his education reforms Kean was lauded for efforts to protect the environment, cut taxes, and improve New Jersey's welfare system; in 1986 Newsweek called him one of the nation's most effective governors. Upon leaving office in 1990 Kean became president of Drew University in Madison, New .Jersey, a position he still holds. A 1988 memoir, The Politics of Inclusion, looks back on his political career.

After graduating from Princeton, Kean taught at a Massachusetts prep school before enrolling at Teachers College, where he studied under Jacques Barzun, Richard Hofstadter, and William Leuchtenberg, among others. He received an MA in 1963 and was on track to obtain a PhD when he took a break to work for presidential candidate William Scranton. "I went all the way through at Columbia until I got to that point, and didn't write the dissertation," Kean told the Chronicle of Higher Education in 1989, as he prepared to assume the presidency at Drew. "I'm not going to sit down and write the dissertation now. Columbia probably wouldn't accept it if I did—it's been too long." Kean received a distinguished alumnus award from Teachers College in 1986, and he served the school as a trustee for much of the 1990s. Since 1998, TC has given the Thomas H. Kean Governor of the Year Awards to recognize leadership in education. Kean remains an active supporter of Teachers College, and in 2001 donated money to establish a general scholarship.


Institute at Teachers College.


New York's George Pataki attended Columbia Law.

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