Jump to Navigation

Gift for Endowed Chairs and Funding for CC and SEAS Financial Aid

Gift for Endowed Chairs and Funding for CC and SEAS Financial Aid

September 19, 2006

Dear fellow Columbian,

I am very pleased to announce two important developments at Columbia. One is an extraordinary gift from University Trustee Gerry Lenfest (LAW '58) that will endow faculty chairs in the Arts and Sciences and the Law School. The other is the elimination of loans, beginning in the 2007-08 academic year, for undergraduates from families earning less than $50,000 a year, in Columbia College and the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Gerry Lenfest's $47.5 Million Gift for Endowed Chairs

A Trustee and longtime friend of the University, Gerry Lenfest has pledged $48.5 million dollars-$37.5 million to endow faculty chairs in the Arts and Sciences and $10 million to endow chairs at the Law School. The gift provides a one-to-one match that allows other donors to establish endowed professorships in the Arts and Sciences and the Law School with gifts of $1.5 million. This very generous gift affords Columbia a vital tool, in the form of endowed professorships-which are among the highest academic honors a university can bestow-for retaining our best faculty and attracting other talented scholars.

With this gift, Gerry has now given more than $100 million to Columbia. Just this past year, he gave $12 million to establish an endowment for the Distinguished Faculty Awards in the Arts and Sciences. Columbia is a better, stronger institution for the time, support, and leadership that Gerry has given to us, and we are very grateful to him.

Financial Aid Changes at CC and Fu Foundation SEAS

Beginning in the 2007-08 academic year, Columbia will eliminate the debt burden of students from families earning less than $50,000 per year attending Columbia College and the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. Replacing loans with grants for these students will allow them to fully participate in the undergraduate experience and make post-graduate career decisions that are not driven by the need to pay back large loans. This change will apply to returning students' aid packages for 2007-08 and thereafter, as well as to financial aid for new students.

Columbia has always sought to be a place where talented students can achieve their fullest potential, even if they do not have the ability to pay the full cost of attending the University. Columbia's students include a higher percentage of students from low-income families than our peer institutions, and we enroll the highest percentage of recipients of Pell grants (generally for students whose families earn less than $40,000 a year) in the Ivy League. We are proud of the diversity of our student body and committed to continuing to expand opportunity at Columbia.

Columbia College and SEAS currently award more than $55 million in need-based institutional grants, and this new initiative will add approximately $3.5 million annually to financial aid expenditures. We will pay for these additional costs through a combination of current funds, gifts, and future fundraising.

Both of these important initiatives underscore the importance of donor support, which helps to sustain the University and its core values, including academic excellence and expanding accessibility and opportunity to talented students. In the coming weeks, we will announce an ambitious $4 billion campaign to lay an even stronger foundation for the University for generations to come.

I want to express my appreciation, again, to Gerry Lenfest for his powerful and generous gift-and to everyone who helps support the University, the faculty who teach here, and the students who study here.

Sincerely,

Lee C. Bollinger