Campus: CSU Northridge -- May 20, 2002

Eisner Foundation Makes Largest Gift in CSUN History
$7 Million to Establish New Center for Teaching, Learning

The Eisner Foundation, created by Disney chairman Michael D. Eisner and his wife, Jane, who serves as the foundation's president, has given Cal State Northridge $7 million for the establishment of a new teacher-training program, university officials announced today.

The new Center for Teaching and Learning within the university's College of Education will focus on preparing teachers to support the educational and emotional needs of all types of learners.

The Eisner gift is the single largest donation in the university's history. In recognition of that, CSUN President Jolene Koester said she will ask the California State University system's Board of Trustees to rename the college "The Michael D. Eisner College of Education" at its July meeting.

"The gift from the Eisner Foundation is a milestone in the university's efforts to increase support for the number of exceptional programs we offer," Koester said. "Cal State Northridge has always been a leader in preparing California's teachers. The Eisner gift recognizes the high quality of our program and provides additional support that allows us to ensure that the men and women who pass through our doors have the skills they need so all our children have an opportunity to succeed."

Michael and Jane Eisner said they made the gift to CSUN because they share the university's goal to see that educational professionals are prepared to serve the diverse needs of children and adolescents.

"Every child should be given the opportunity to succeed. Yet in schools across the nation, children with learning differences are often underserved in traditional classroom settings," said Michael D. Eisner, Chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Company. "The Eisner Foundation
decided to make this gift to CSUN because we know that although teachers understand how important it is to help children learn in their own way, their training does not always give them the tools to address the learning needs of all children."

Cal State Northridge is considered a leading producer of teachers among public institutions in California. It was one of only four universities nationwide recently tapped by the Carnegie Corporation of New York to take part in a landmark initiative designed to strengthen K-12 teaching by developing state-of-the-art programs at schools of education.

The Eisner gift, which will be paid to the university over the course of four years, provides the financial support for the establishment The Center for Teaching and Learning, and to endow the Eisner Chair in Teaching and Learning, which will serve as the center's executive director. The first Eisner Chair will be Michael Spagna, a special education professor at CSUN.

The new Center will train teachers in the methodology and philosophy of Schools Attuned, a systematic approach to understanding and managing differences in learning. Schools Attuned is a program of All Kinds of Minds, a North Carolina-based non-profit institute for the study of differences in learning. The institute provides programs, tools and a common language for parents, educators and clinicians to help children with learning differences achieve success in school and in life.

The Center will incorporate the teachings and philosophies of All Kinds of Minds and of its founder, Dr. Mel Levine, a professor of pediatrics and director of the Clinical Center for the Study of Development and Learning at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill.

"Without proper training, teachers are often ill-equipped to handle the special needs of children's differences in learning," said Levine, a pioneer in the field of learning differences and the author of the best-selling book, "A Mind at a Time." "This center will raise awareness of the effective techniques and teaching practices that can help kids succeed, both in the classroom and outside of school."

The Eisner Foundation provides financial support to organizations that undertake innovative and concrete programs designed to enhance and enrich the lives of children who are underserved, or who have learning differences and their families. The Foundation recognizes that all aspects of a child's life are linked to their community, including personal health, economic stability, appropriate mentors, living conditions and educational opportunities.

Contact: Carmen Ramos Chandler (818) 677-2130 carmen.chandler@csun.edu


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