Field Operations

City gives green light to Manhattanville

The New York City Council approved a 17-acre Columbia expansion on December 19, voting 35–5 with 6 abstentions in favor of the University’s requested rezoning of the old manufacturing section of West Harlem known as Manhattanville. The vote will enable Columbia to create a mixed-use academic campus from 129th to 133rd streets between Broadway and 12th Avenue, as well as on three properties on the east side of Broadway from 131st to 134th streets.

The area, long dominated by warehouses and auto body shops, will be transformed into an open campus with publicly accessible green space and tree-lined walkways leading to a waterfront park now being built by the city on the Hudson River. Retail shops, restaurants, and public meeting spaces will occupy the street level of new glass-walled buildings. A design team led by renowned Italian architect Renzo Piano and Marilyn Taylor of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill created a master plan for the development, which also includes the westernmost block of 125th Street, which cuts diagonally from just south of 129th Street and Broadway to 130th Street and 12th Avenue. Columbia has commissioned Piano to design several buildings in Manhattanville, with the local firm Davis Brody Bond Aedas serving as the architect of record. Harlem-based Body Lawson Associates will work closely with the architectural team.

The development is crucial for Columbia, its officials say, because the institution has the fewest square feet per student among the Ivies, with just half the room of its most space-constrained peer, Harvard. Columbia plans to move the Business School and the School of International and Public Affairs to Manhattanville, as well as to build the new Jerome L. Greene Science Center for Mind, Brain, and Behavior, all by 2015. In addition, the University plans to relocate elements of the School of the Arts to the north and south sides of 125th Street. Columbia will gradually construct between 16 and 18 buildings on the site over the next 25 years, while preserving and renovating three buildings from the area’s industrial heyday: Prentis, Studebaker, and Nash. The project is estimated to cost $6.2 billion and to give the University 6.8 million square feet eventually, including about 800 new units of University housing. It will also create some 6000 Columbia jobs.

“With the City Council’s approval, we are moving forward with faculty discussions for the space priorities within buildings,” says Robert Kasdin, Columbia’s senior executive vice president. “Architects are designing and engineers are at work as well. We would like to begin phase-one development this summer.”

The council vote completed the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, in this case a yearlong process during which city officials considered opinions of local citizens, business owners, and community advocates. Beginning in 2003, Columbia itself hosted hundreds of meetings to elicit feedback from its West Harlem neighbors. The University made numerous adjustments to its plans in response to public concerns and recommendations from the city’s Planning Commission, which voted 10–1–1 to support the project three weeks before the council followed suit. For example, Columbia dramatically reduced the scale of several proposed buildings and reconfigured walkways and green space to the liking of nearby residents.

To ensure that Manhattanville’s makeover enhances the quality of life of Columbia’s neighbors, the University recently entered a community-benefits agreement with the West Harlem Development Corporation (WHDC), a group comprising neighborhood representatives appointed by the local community board for that purpose. The agreement includes measures aimed at protecting affordable housing in the area and extending educational and recreational opportunities to local residents.

It stipulates, for example, that Columbia spend $20 million in seed capital for an affordable-housing revolving-loan fund, which could be used to preserve or create up to 1100 affordable units locally over time; that Columbia spend $4 million to expand its existing support for legal aid services to tenants in Manhattanville, including protection from unlawful eviction or harassment; and that Columbia create 159 units of graduate-student housing on land outside of the expansion zone already owned by the University — in addition to the 800 University housing units slated for Manhattanville. (Columbia has promised that residents who live in approximately 130 apartments in the expansion zone will be relocated to other affordable units in the community.)

Renzo Piano Building Workshop, Architects, and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Urban Designers  
Manhattanville’s underutilized streetscape, pictured above looking down West 130th Street from 12th Avenue, will become a cohesive center of educational, commercial, and community life, as depicted in the artist’s rendering of the same street, at right. The development will contain 94,000 square feet of green space, including a public park near 12th Avenue between 130th and 131st streets, as seen on the facing page, looking northeast.  

Also as part of the agreement, Columbia-affiliated Teachers College will work with the New York City Department of Education to develop a new pre-K–8 public school in the area. This comes in addition to the University’s previous commitment to provide a permanent home in Manhattanville for a public secondary school for math, science, and engineering, which opened its doors for sixth graders last September at a temporary site. In addition, Columbia will pay for playground improvements at the Roberto Clemente School at 133rd Street and Broadway and work with community leaders to identify other civic improvements to be made by the University.

“This can be an extraordinary opportunity for Columbia and our local community to work together on enhancing the many educational and health-care services the University already provides, as well as supporting the local community so it can be full participants in the economic opportunities that our expansion will create,” says President Lee C. Bollinger.

Councilman Robert Jackson, the Manhattan Democrat whose district includes most of the expansion area, said before voting to support the project that Columbia’s deal with WHDC protects “the heart and soul” of his community. “I am pleased to announce that we have indeed come to an agreement that preserves all of what it means to be from Harlem,” he said. “This revitalization will make sure that Harlem is as relevant in the future as it was in the past.”

Columbia projects that its development will generate an average of 1200 construction jobs per year over the next quarter century, $11 billion in local economic activity, and $430 million in tax revenues for New York City and the state.

“Simply put, facilitating the growth of New York City’s renowned research and teaching centers is one of the single most important things we can do to enhance the long-term health of our economy, and Columbia University’s expansion is a prime example of that,” sys Daniel L. Doctoroff, deputy mayor for economic development and rebuilding. “The plan will result in vital new academic facilities, thousands of new jobs, greatly enhanced cultural and commercial activity, and new public open space. I’m thrilled that, with the community, the city, the council, other local elected officials and Columbia all working together, we arrived at a plan that yields such promise both for the University and the surrounding area.”

Currently, the University owns, has a contract to purchase, or leases longterm about 70 percent of the land in the 17 acres it plans to redevelop; public agencies such as the Metropolitan Transit Authority and ConEdison own another 20 percent. Columbia has purchased dozens of properties in the expansion area in recent years, but three private property owners have not agreed to sell to the University. Columbia officials have said that if they cannot negotiate the purchase of these properties successfully, they will consider requesting the state to invoke its power of eminent domain to claim them, although the University has stated that no residential properties will be pursued by eminent domain.

“Let me be clear,” said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn before voting in favor of Manhattanville’s rezoning. “I think eminent domain should be used infrequently, and it should only be used when there is an overriding greater good in the interest of the city. I think certainly the possible creation of 6000 jobs, economic development, and job creation are relevant reasons to use eminent domain. I hope that Columbia can come to an agreement, but if they don’t, I understand why that idea has to be considered.”

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images  
President George W. Bush announcing that Michael Mukasey ’63CC was his nominee as U.S. attorney general on September 17, 2007.  

Mukasey overcomes doubts to become AG

Michael Mukasey ’63CC did not tell congressional Democrats much they wanted to hear during his confirmation hearings to become U.S. attorney general this fall. Is waterboarding torture? Can’t say. Should prisoners at Guantánamo be allowed to challenge their detentions? Not on my watch. Can the president order warrantless wiretapping? That’s what Jimmy Carter’s AG argued.

In the end, the Democratic-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee endorsed Mukasey, 66, paving the way for his November 9 appointment, not for his stances on the Bush administration’s most controversial post-9/11 policies but on the strength of his reputation: an intelligent, fair, and nonideological man who isn’t a Washington insider. He at least could be expected to show independence from the White House, Democrats hoped.

The Bronx-raised Mukasey, who is a lecturer at Columbia Law School, always had an independent streak. As the Spectator’s editorials page editor during his senior year at Columbia, he published articles recognizable for their sensitive examination of legal issues rather than for any consistent political slant: The editorials denounced anti-Communist legislation, questioned school prayer, supported the right of a Catholic university to expel students wed outside the church, and praised a Columbia physician for arguing that abortion should be decriminalized.

“Mukasey was no conservative at Columbia,” wrote his college roommate and longtime friend David Alpern ’63CC recently on, where he’s a contributing editor. “He was quiet and intense but also a good pal. After a hard night’s studying, he was ready to jam us into his VW and drive to Brooklyn’s Coney Island for Nathan’s hot dogs and fries.”

Mukasey was appointed a U.S. district court judge in New York City by Ronald Reagan in 1988. On the bench, he found himself knee-deep in counterterrorism issues, first presiding over the 1995 case of El Sayyid Nosair and the “blind sheikh,” Omar Abdel-Rahman, both of whom he sentenced to life in prison for plotting to blow up the United Nations. Mukasey was guarded around the clock for years afterward. Many legal scholars and jurors, including Mukasey, now say the case proved that special courts are needed to handle terrorism cases since Al-Qaeda gained valuable information from the trial.

“Clearly what he learned about Islamic terrorism, and what he saw as the limits of traditional criminal prosecution during that landmark trial,” wrote Alpern, “helped make Mike a strong law-and-order judge.”

Shortly after 9/11, Mukasey made his most influential ruling: He said that the Bush administration could detain terrorism suspect José Padilla indefinitely without charges, even though he is a U.S. citizen. Human rights groups lambasted the decision, although Mukasey did rebuff the Bush administration by insisting that terrorism suspects were entitled to lawyers.

During his recent nomination hearings, Mukasey urged Congress to craft new judicial procedures for trying terrorists. He also recommended that Guantánamo Bay prison remain open and he refused to condemn President George W. Bush’s controversial use of signing statements. But Mukasey’s confirmation seemed doubtful only after he claimed to know too little about waterboarding to say whether it constitutes torture. Many Senate Democrats and legal experts who’d initially supported Mukasey turned against him.

Even questions about Mukasey’s stance on interrogation tactics, however, couldn’t derail his confirmation: Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) lined up with all nine Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee to back him and the full Senate went along. Senators praised Mukasey for vowing to enforce a law against waterboarding should one be enacted, to resign if President Bush acts illegally, and to protect U.S. attorneys from politicians meddling in their cases, as allegedly occurred under former AG Alberto Gonzales.

“No one questions that Mukasey would remove the stench of politics from the Justice Department,” said Schumer.

John Ponyicsanyi ’08LAW, who took Mukasey’s trial practice course at Columbia Law School last spring, is confident his former professor will survive Washington with his integrity intact. “Mukasey always said there’s a right way and a wrong way to do your job,” Ponyicsanyi says. “He said that you must always conduct yourself with honesty and decency, and never contort the facts or treat the law as malleable. You owe that to the rule of law itself, he said, because it’s bigger than you, and it’s bigger than any case.”

Linda Fried  

Geriatrics expert named public health dean

Linda Fried, an expert on frailty and disability among the aging, was named dean of Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health in January. She’ll take over the job in May, succeeding longtime dean Allan Rosenfield, who’ll remain on the Mailman faculty as a professor of obstetrics and gynecology.

Fried comes to Columbia from Johns Hopkins University, where she began her career in public health 25 years ago as a fellow in general internal medicine. She’s currently a professor of medicine, epidemiology, health policy, and nursing there. She also directs John Hopkins’ center on aging and health, its program in the epidemiology of aging, and its division of geriatric medicine and gerontology.

A board-certified internist and geriatrician, Fried has published widely on geriatric health care and prevention. This expertise will be crucial in leading forward the Mailman School, Columbia officials say, because the number of older people in America and worldwide is increasing dramatically. “As much of the world’s population begins to age, public health must evolve to meet an increasing emphasis on chronic diseases,” said Lee Goldman, who heads Columbia University Medical Center, in announcing Fried’s appointment.

Fried is a cofounder of Experience Corps, a nationwide nonprofit organization that pairs older Americans with elementary school students for mentoring in 19 cities, and she is a member of the American Geriatrics Society, the Institute of Medicine, and several other professional organizations. A native New Yorker, she received her medical degree from Rush Medical College and her master’s in public health from Johns Hopkins University.

  Eileen Barroso
  George Olive ’08CC, Emma Kaufman ’08CC, and Jason Bello ’08CC, (from left) will pursue graduate work at Oxford University on full scholarships.

Seniors Oxford-bound on exalted scholarships

Jason Bello ’08CC is preoccupied lately. Whether he’s reading about political unrest in Pakistan or sectarian violence in Iraq, he wonders: Do people in these places have access to multiple news sources? If so, do they seek information that broadens their worldview or merely affirms their biases?

Like any young scholar, Bello today is learning to focus his curiosity, to ask testable questions that might one day contribute important knowledge to his field. His undergraduate work, which includes a thesis on news media in developing countries, is so promising that Bello was picked recently for a Rhodes Scholarship, perhaps the most coveted academic fellowship in the world. Beginning in October, he’ll pursue a master’s degree in comparative government at the University of Oxford in England, all expenses paid.

“Right now, I’m questioning the common hypothesis that media markets, as they expand, necessarily expose people to new ideas,” says Bello, 21, a political science and economics major. “What if the media outlets that are growing are unprofessional and biased? Could that actually increase a society’s sectarianism?”

Bello is one of three Columbia undergraduates who won a prestigious international fellowship this past November. George Olive ’08CC, a political science and environmental science major, also was among the 32 American young men and women named Rhodes Scholars in November. Olive has conducted research on climate change and alternative energy projects in the Caribbean, India, and South America, publishing his findings in the journal Geology. At Oxford, he’ll study economics toward a master’s degree.

Meanwhile, Emma Kaufman ’08CC won a Marshall Scholarship, which allows recipients to attend any university in the United Kingdom. Kaufman has chosen to join her classmates at Oxford to pursue a master’s degree in criminology, with a focus on women’s issues. A major in philosophy and women and gender studies, she currently conducts research in women’s prisons for the nonprofit Correctional Association of New York, interviewing inmates, monitoring prison conditions, and advocating for reforms.

“Gender is a key lens into the complexities of our justice system,” Kaufman wrote in her research proposal for the Marshall Scholarship. “In New York City, a twelve-year-old homeless girl can be prosecuted for prostitution four years before she is legally capable of consent…. The system is broken. As a Marshall Scholar, I will ask why.”

Bello and Olive are Columbia’s first Rhodes Scholars since 2002 and Kaufman is only the second Marshall Scholar produced by the University in the past four years. The winners had lots of competition from classmates: Nine Columbia undergraduates were finalists this year for the Rhodes and seven for the Marshall. (The Rhodes Scholarship, established in the name of British business magnate and colonizer Cecil Rhodes in 1903, sends about 80 scholars from around the world to Oxford every year; the Marshall, named for Secretary of State George C. Marshall, is specifically for Americans and is funded by the British government in appreciation for U.S. help in rebuilding Europe after World War II.)

Kathryn Yatrakis, Columbia College’s dean of academic affairs, says the University has put more resources into helping students apply for academic scholarships and fellowships the past couple years. She points to the 2005 hiring of Michael Pippenger, the first Columbia administrator whose job primarily is to help students identify fellowships they’re suited for, prepare their applications, and practice interviewing.

“The fellowship office works closely with professors to identify students who might benefit from these opportunities,” says Pippenger, the College’s associate dean of fellowship programs and study, who also works with undergraduates at the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. “Our mission is to engage students intellectually in order to help them decide what type of research they want to pursue and ultimately to develop the skills they need to communicate that to a foundation.”

For more information about fellowship opportunities, visit

  Alessandro Cosmellli/Contrasto/Redux
  Infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, which afflicts these men in an Uzbek hospital, ravage Central Asia today. Columbia professors are training health professionals in the region to prevent outbreaks and provide better care.

Wealth into health

Kazakhstan has one of the world’s fastest growing economies, with oil and gas industries that attract billions of dollars in foreign investment every year.

Yet the country’s health-care system is in shambles. In Kazakhstan, as in many former Soviet states that once depended on the U.S.S.R.’s help to provide public services, doctors are underpaid and poorly trained, hospitals have outdated equipment, and citizens are uninformed about public health threats.

In order to help Kazakhstan and neighboring countries Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, and Turkmenistan address their pressing health-care needs, Columbia’s School of Social Work recently launched the Global Health Research Center in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Columbia faculty will collaborate with local scholars, health-care professionals, and government officials to determine how, for instance, the Central Asian countries can best prevent and treat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, hepatitis C, and other infectious diseases.

“Most of the action will be on the ground there,” says Nabila El-Bassel, a Columbia social work professor who is the center’s executive director. “It’s about training a new generation to do global health research and find scientifically based solutions that influence policies.”

A primary focus of their work will be HIV/AIDS, which is on the verge of becoming an epidemic throughout Central Asia. That is partly the result of an explosion in heroin use and prostitution, as well as increased transience of poor workers, all resulting from a deterioration of social conditions since the end of the Cold War.

“The explosive migration between countries has escalated the transmission of disease,” said El-Bassel. “These epidemics are linked with psychological distress, trauma, poverty, domestic violence, and other problems.”

Columbia social scientists and social workers, psychologists, public health experts, economists, biostatisticians, and physicians will participate in the center’s work. Initial funding for the center has been provided by the University and the Edward S. Moore Family Foundation; ongoing projects will be supported by the U.S. and regional governments and private foundations. Peter Bearman, a Columbia sociology professor, and Louisa Gilbert, a Columbia social work researcher, are codirectors of the center.



  Manoj Bhatt ’07SIPA in his native India.

Hydropower to the people

Manoj Bhatt can’t move mountains, but he’s determined to protect them where they stand. As the founder and executive director of the nonprofit organization RACHNA (Research, Advocacy & Communication in Himalayan Areas), Bhatt ’07SIPA is trying to stop India’s hydropower industry from steamrolling his native Himalayan state of Uttarakhand.

“India is crying for energy,” says Bhatt, noting that the nation will need to nearly double its 125,000-megawatt powergenerating capacity in the next decade to meet its skyrocketing demand. A shrinking coal reserve now has India looking to its waterways, with almost 250 new hydropower projects planned for the 1560-mile Ganges River and its tributaries in Uttarakhand.

“The hydropower authorities underestimate the socioeconomic and environmental impact of these projects on the local people,” says Bhatt. He worries about the displacement of subsistence farmers whose livelihoods depend on forests and open-grazing lands threatened by huge dams. Moreover, the projects may require blasting tunnels through mountains, a hazard in this seismically active region that’s experienced two major earthquakes in the past 15 years.

RACHNA is publicly advocating for legislation that would force hydropower companies to give a percentage of their profits to people who will be dislocated. And with support from Indian government officials, Bhatt is organizing a policy workshop later this year where all stakeholders — including community leaders, hydropower developers, government, and World Bank representatives — will collectively determine the details of hydropower projects planned for Uttarakhand.

Bhatt’s labors recently won the notice of his alma mater when the School of International and Public Affairs awarded him its first annual Leous/Parry Award for Progressive Sustainability. The $1000 prize was established by SIPA alumni J. P. Leous ’06SIPA and Neal Parry ’06SIPA, in part with money they received as winners of the 2005 Andrew Wellington Cordier Essay Contest for a paper they wrote about the politics of ocean cleanup.

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Scientists at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory will operate a newly renovated ocean research ship seving researchers across the U.S.


How deep is the ocean?

The National Science Foundation (NSF) spent $20 million recently to turn a broken-down oil exploration ship into a hightech ocean research vessel. The 235-foot ship, rechristened the Marcus G. Langseth, in honor of Columbia’s late pioneering geophysicist, will be operated by Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and serve universities and research organizations across the country.

NSF officials say the Langseth is the scientific community’s most advanced seismic-research vessel, capable of sending sonar signals five miles below the ocean and reading return pulses with unprecedented resolution to map the seafloor. Scientists will also deploy seismometers and other instruments beneath the ocean to monitor earthquakes, detect waves and tides, and warn of tsunamis. In addition, the ship will have room onboard to study marine mammals.

The Langseth’s first scientific mission, probably later in 2008, will involve the study of geologic subduction zones off the Pacific and Caribbean coasts of Costa Rica, to be led by researchers at the University of Wyoming. Subsequent cruises will take scientists over submerged mountain ranges in the eastern Pacific; offshore of Alaska’s great St. Elias volcano; and to the earthquake and volcanism-wracked Juan de Fuca Ridge, off Oregon.

  Michael Dames
  Columbia students organized a candlelight vigil to protest hate crimes on November 29.

A day without hate

Hundreds of Columbia students, faculty, and staff took part in campus events honoring diversity and tolerance on November 29, which had been designated a “Day Out Against Hate” by city officials. Among the events was a candlelight vigil to protest a wave of hate crimes that stirred fears and anger throughout the city in October. Two high-profile incidents took place at Columbia University’s Teachers College that month: A Jewish professor discovered a swastika scrawled on her door and a black professor found a hangman’s noose dangling from her doorknob. Several other nooses, swastikas, and racist graffiti were found across New York City.

“Tolerance and mutual respect are among the core values of our diverse community, and all of us must confront acts of hate whenever they occur within it,” said President Lee Bollinger. “An attack on the dignity of any member of our community is an assault on all of us.”

  Eileen Barroso
  Sandra Day O’Connor

Laws of complexity

Are civil rights inalienable? Which ones? Does the president decide in times we’re at war?

If history teaches us anything, Sandra Day O’Connor told a crowd of 300 at Columbia Law School last semester, it’s that law books provide no conclusive answers to such fundamental questions. Answers emerge, rather, from the gray areas between law and enforcement, between the intentions of legislatures and the interpretations of jurors. And as circumstances change, so will the law, said the former U.S. Supreme Court justice.

Case in point: habeas corpus. O’Connor suggested that the Bush administration was wrong to detain terrorism suspects without granting them hearings after 9/11, but that the executive branch does need special powers to fight terrorism, like the authority to withhold from accused terrorists evidence that has national-security implications. That stance, which O’Connor laid out in her majority opinion in the landmark 2004 Supreme Court case Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, exemplifies her legal pragmatism and political moderation, constitutional scholars have said.

“The choice we face today is not between order and liberty; it is between order with liberty or anarchy without either,” said O’Connor, who was the first woman to sit on the nation’s highest court and now is chancellor of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. “These are very difficult issues in part because they go to the very core of what we mean when we use terms like ‘citizen,’ ‘nation,’ ‘liberty.’”

O’Connor spoke on November 12 as part of an event honoring the late federal judge Harold Leventhal ’36LAW. She was presented later with the Wolfgang Friedmann Memorial Award from the Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, in part for her work with the Iraq Study Group.

RWA trainee Randy Harrell collects cooking oil.  

Fat to fuel

Columbia is refining the way it fights global warming, literally.

The dining and catering services on the Morningside campus use 1700 gallons of cooking oil each year. Now, the University has found a way to turn the used oil into a clean-burning fuel called biodiesel. Columbia is participating in a program called Ready, Willing & Able (RWA), in which waste from cooking oil is transported to refineries and converted into fuel for diesel engines and oil-fired burners. The program is coordinated by the Doe Fund, a local nonprofit that provides housing and job opportunities to formerly homeless people.

Biodiesel is made from petroleum diesel blended with vegetable or animal fats and burns 70 percent cleaner than its pure petroleum counterpart, according to Sabian Cheong, a coordinator at RWA.

Columbia is the lone academic institution taking part in the RWA program, which serves 300 locations. The program has helped convert over 142,000 gallons of waste cooking oil into biodiesel in less than a year and has created jobs for eight people who in the past were homeless.

Students at Columbia’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science initiated the University’s participation in the program last year. Nilda Mesa, director of Columbia’s Office of Environmental Stewardship, says the program is part of the University’s strategy for reducing its total carbon footprint by 30 percent in 10 years. That goal was set in connection with Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s PlaNYC proposal to make New York City more environmentally sustainable.

  James Harden ’78BUS, ’83PH

James Harden picked to lead CAA

The Columbia Alumni Association (CAA), since launching in 2005, has started new alumni clubs everywhere from central Texas to Finland. It’s sponsored special lectures, symposiums, and concerts around the world. It’s also created online discussion groups, networking web sites, and electronic bulletins to notify alumni about exclusive services available to them and opportunities for participating in campus life. The goal? CAA aims to connect alumni from across the University’s 17 schools as part of a single community.

James Harden ’78BUS, ’83PH, then, would seem the perfect person to lead the group. His Columbia connections span the University: from Morningside Heights, as an alumnus of Columbia Business School, to the Medical Center, as a graduate of Mailman School of Public Health. Harden, president and CEO of Catholic Health Services of Long Island, which includes five hospitals, three nursing homes, and a home care and hospice service, is a long-engaged alumnus. He’s chaired the Mailman School’s Board of Overseers the past 11 years, he’s the former president of the Columbia Business School Alumni Club of New York, and he’s served on the University’s Trustee Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing and the Alumni Trustee Nominating Committee. Harden has also given generously to the University, donating, for example, $25,000 to the Mailman School in 2005 to commission a painting of Joseph L. Mailman, the prominent philanthropist for whom the school is named. In addition, Harden launched the Mailman School Public Health Scholars Fund, for which he has personally fundraised $400,000 to support graduate and doctoral students.

Harden took over the CAA leadership from inaugural Chairman and University Trustee Stephen Case ’64CC, ’68LW at the group’s annual gathering in November. Harden says that the CAA recently “completed its formative stage and now is ready to provide a new platform” for Columbia to build its alumni network — and for alumni to connect with the University.

“If you’re an alumnus who wants to receive e-mail updates about news on campus, if you want to learn how you can help current students, or if you’re originally from the Philippines or any other foreign country and want to socialize or network with Columbia graduates who share your heritage,” says Harden, “CAA is the group that can make those linkages for you.”

For more on CAA activities, visit

John W. Kluge ’37CC, ’88HON  

Kluge creates matching program for financial aid gifts

John W. Kluge made clear upon pledging $400 million to support financial aid at the University last April that he hoped to inspire others to give. To that end, Kluge agreed recently that $50 million of the $200 million he designated for Columbia College be set aside for a challenge fund that will match gifts and pledges for financial aid to students in the College.

To qualify for the Kluge Challenge for Endowed Financial Aid, donors must give at least $150,000. A donation of $150,000 is allocated as follows: $100,000 goes toward Columbia University’s permanent endowment for financial aid and $50,000 toward the Columbia College Fund for current-use aid. A matching Kluge gift of $150,000 will be applied toward the endowed financial aid fund named for the donor. The objective of the program, say University officials, is to encourage giving toward financial aid by dramatically increasing the value of named funds. There is no ceiling on the size of gifts or pledges to the permanent endowment that will be matched as part of the Kluge Challenge.

“I want to help ensure that Columbia will always be a place where the best and the brightest young people can come to develop their intellect,” said Kluge ’37CC, ’88HON, the 93-year-old president of communications giant Metromedia. “Achieving that goal will take support from many other alumni and friends.”

Columbia aims to raise an additional $140 million for College financial aid by 2011 as part of the University’s ongoing fundraising campaign, in order to shift financial aid away from borrowing so that students receive more grants and fewer loans. To read more information, visit


In brief

Logged into books

Google and Columbia University Libraries signed an agreement recently to digitize a large number of the libraries’ books that are in the public domain. Google and Columbia will consider for digitization hundreds of thousands of the University’s books over the next six years. Columbia officials say the project, one of several collaborations between Google and large research libraries, will provide Columbia professors more electronic materials to use in the classroom, give scholars around the world access to University volumes through Google Book Search, and preserve the books’ content.

Sign on the oily line

The law school’s Human Rights Clinic has received a $150,000 grant from the international nonprofit Revenue Watch Institute to analyze African oil and mining contracts that legal scholars suspect will expose corrupt dictators. Under the grant, Susan Maples ’07LAW is examining confidentiality clauses in hundreds of contracts retrieved by the Manhattanbased Barrows Company and stored at Columbia’s Diamond Law Library. “By studying these clauses, which often are used as a means of hiding corruption rather than protecting trade secrets,” Maples says, “we’ll get a better sense of how best to attain transparency.”

Selling smarts

To give young inventors the business skills necessary to turn their ideas into marketable products, Columbia this spring is offering a new undergraduate minor in technological entrepreneurship. The interdisciplinary program consists of five courses from Columbia’s business and engineering schools. Students will design products and learn how to attract financing and business partners, in part by completing coursework in financial management and market strategies.

Geochemists’ new digs

About 80 geochemists at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory are moving this winter into the new $45 million Gary C. Comer Geochemistry Building, named for the late founder of Lands’ End clothing, who donated about $18 million for the 70,000-square-foot facility. It features lab space for scientists who study everything from global warming to the movement of sediments under water to the toxicity of air pollutants after the 2001 World Trade Center collapse. Another $2 million was donated by Columbia trustee Gerry Lenfest ’58LAW.

Publishing biz

Columbia launched a new imprint for works related to finance, economics, and business last semester. Columbia Business School Publishing, a joint venture of the business school and Columbia University Press, will put out books and periodicals. The first book appeared in October. Author William Duggan, a Columbia associate professor of management, argues in Strategic Intuition: The Creative Spark in Human Achievement, that people spend too much time working toward specific goals and not enough capitalizing on opportunities when they appear.

Furda on

Eric Furda ’94TC, the face of alumni outreach since 2004, is leaving Columbia February 28 to become dean of admissions at the University of Pennsylvania. Furda graduated from Penn in 1987 and began his career there. He was Columbia’s executive director of undergraduate admissions from 1995 to 2004 and subsequently served as vice president for alumni relations. In that position he served as president of the Columbia Alumni Association, establishing a platform connecting the alumni around the world from all the University’s schools.

Stem-cell state

New York State announced in January that it will give Columbia $2.5 million in awards to support the work of about 70 Columbia scientists studying adult and embryonic stem cells to better understand diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Among the funded projects is a study of the basic biological mechanisms underlying stem cell differentiation and an investigation of why antidepressants take a while to kick in.

Greening up

Two Columbia-owned buildings now feature rooftop vegetation. In November, the facilities department and the Earth Institute’s Center for Climate Systems Research (CCSR) planted grass atop buildings at 423 West 118th Street and 635 West 115th Street, where the Office of Environmental Stewardship is located. Research has shown that green roofs reduce the “heat island” effect created by heat-absorbing asphalt and concrete, lowering cooling costs. CCSR will document the impact of the green roofs on the buildings’ temperatures and water runoff.

Watch my breath

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has awarded Columbia researchers a $10.4 million grant to examine how environmental factors contribute to childhood asthma. Scientists at the Mailman School of Public Health will investigate how prenatal exposure to air contaminants affects lung development and the immune system, at what age children are most vulnerable to diesel fumes and other traffic-related pollution, and how genetics influence our susceptibility to asthma. Mailman researchers have studied extensively how air pollutants affect children’s cognitive development in New York City.