Dr. Anthony J. Polemeni, Vice President at Touro College, Receives ‘Educator of the Year’ Award
Director of Communications
Dean of School of Education and Psychology, Graduate Division, Honored by Columbia Teachers College, Phi Delta Kappa Chapter, for Leadership.
New York, N.Y. - Dr. Anthony J. Polemeni, an innovative and accomplished educator, has received the prestigious “Educator of the Year 2007” award from the Columbia Teachers College, Phi Delta Kappa Chapter. The honor was bestowed at a dinner held in his honor on the Columbia University campus last week. Dr. Polemeni serves as vice president for Touro College’s graduate schools of education, psychology, and social work, and dean of its School of Education and Psychology, Graduate Division.
The event, held in the Faculty Lounge at Columbia, was attended by many members of Dr. Polemeni’s family and staff, as well as Dr. Bernard Lander, founder and president of Touro College. In brief remarks to the audience, Dr. Lander noted Dr. Polemeni is a “very special person” at Touro, and one for whom the president has the utmost admiration and respect.
“Dr. Polemeni’s is an accomplished academic, who successfully blends his superb educational leadership with his vast international business experiences,” said Dr. Nicholas A. Aiello, Ph.D, associate professor of education and communication and director of publications for the School of Education and Psychology, in introductory remarks. “He always reminds us that Touro students are consumers, and that our responsibility is to serve them in the best way possible to help them fulfill their dreams. He models this philosophy every day through his ‘open door policy’ for students, faculty, and alumni.”
Dr. Polemeni joined Touro in 2001, after 20 years working for the New York State Education Department, which was followed by a highly successful career in international business. Upon joining Touro, the School of Education and Psychology had a modest enrollment of 500 students. During his seven-year tenure, the student population has swelled to more than 5,000, making Touro the largest graduate school of education in New York state.
Touro has launched several new master’s degree programs and projects under Dr. Polemeni’s watch, including master’s of science programs in teaching literacy, mental health counseling, and social work; and the Children’s Health Education Foundation, a project seeking to create the first-ever United States certification program in bariatric counseling, which addresses childhood obesity. Also, the School recently launched a program in partnership with Touro’s new Harlem medical school, the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, entitled “Project Aspire.” Project Aspire reaches out to public school children in Harlem to interest them in health careers.
In his acceptance speech, Dr. Polemeni acknowledged his “extraordinary staff and faculty…the finest educators I know.” In particular, he thanked Dr. Lander for the opportunity to bring “my brand of educational leadership to Touro College.” Calling Dr. Lander a “visionary and tireless crusader for the rights of the Jewish community and the traditionally underserved,” Dr. Polemeni applauded Dr. Lander’s willingness to allow new ideas and programs to develop in order to provide Touro students with high quality instruction and a variety of experiences that can be translated into best teaching and administrative practices in the schools.
A son of Italian immigrants, Dr. Polemeni spent his early years in the Brooklyn Heights section of Brooklyn. His father, Frank, was a dock foreman and his mother, Rose, was a stay-at-home mom raising three children. At 13, he left home to live with the Franciscan monks. After graduating from St. Anthony’s High School in Smithtown, New York, Dr. Polemeni attended St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights, where he graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in French and a minor in Spanish at the age of 19. He then went on to earn a master’s degree in romance philology from Columbia University and a doctor of philosophy from St. John’s University, in administration and supervision. He lives in New Jersey with his wife, Martha. The couple has four children and 10 grandchildren.