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2000-01: An Academic Year Marked by Accomplishment and Transition

The sun has set on another academic year, Columbia's 247th, one that began with the visits of a number of world leaders, including the heads of six nations, and ended with former vice-president Al Gore teaching the last of his eight classes at the Graduate School of Journalism.

It was a year during which Columbia also welcomed three new senior administrators: Vice President for Health and Biomedical Sciences Gerald D. Fischbach, Lamont-Doherty Director G. Michael Purdy and President of Biosphere 2 Barry Osmond. And Columbia celebrated University Professor Eric Kandel's Nobel Prize, Columbia's 62nd recipient; the conclusion of University's nearly $3-billion fundraising campaign, and the completion of a new residential hall.

But 2000-01 was also a time of transition. Columbians were taken by surprise upon hearing that George Rupp, who has been president of the University since 1993, decided to step down after the 2001-2002 academic year, which will be his ninth at Columbia.

During his tenure, virtually every undergraduate, graduate and professional school has had a substantial increase in applications, and applications to Columbia College and the College's student selectivity have set record highs. The College received a record 14,070 applications this year, more than doubling the number of applications since 1993, and has reduced the percentage of applicants admitted from more than 30 percent to under 13 percent, making Columbia one of the most selective universities in the nation.

Under Rupp, the University completed one of the largest university fundraising campaigns in history, totaling almost $3 billion; increased its endowment to more than $4 billion; created 159 named professorships; expanded both the University's international presence and its links to New York City, and improved relations with the Morningside Heights, Harlem and Washington Heights communities.

Also leaving the University with legacies of distinguished accomplishment are four deans: Eduardo R. Macagno, dean of Columbia's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, who steps down after 37 years at the University as a student, faculty member and dean; Ronald A. Feldman, after 15 years as dean of the School of Social Work; Elaine Sloan after 13 years as vice president for information services and dean of the libraries librarian, and Allan Formicola, dean of the School of Dental and Oral Surgery, after 23 years in that position.


Eric R. Kandel, University Professor of Physiology and Cell Biophysics, Psychiatry, Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, made headlines around the world when he was awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine. Kandel was recognized for his contributions to the field of neuroscience. His research has been essential for understanding the molecular processes of learning and memory.

Columbia sociologist Duncan Watts received the Faculty Early Career Development Award, the National Science Foundation's most prestigious award for junior faculty members.

Teodolinda Barolini, GSAS'78, Lorenzo Da Ponte Professor of Italian, and Andrew Delbanco, Julian Calrence Levi Professor in the Humanities, were elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

George Flynn, director of the Environmental Molecular Sciences Institute and Higgins Professor of Chemistry, was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, bringing Columbia's total membership to 27.

Lawrence D. Brown of the Mailman School of Public Health and Richard Mayeux of the College of Physicians and Surgeons were among 60 new members of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences.

Six Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science faculty received 2001 Faculty Early Career Awards sponsored by the National Science Foundation. The award, which honors outstanding scientists and engineers who are in the early stages of establishing their research careers, went to computer scientists William Noble Grundy and Jason Nieh, chemical engineer Rastislav Levicky, civil engineers Hoe I. Ling and Garud Iyengar and Jay Sethuraman of the department of industrial engineering and operations research.

University Trustees added three new University Professors, Columbia's highest faculty rank. They are Biochemistry Professor Wayne Hendrickson, and Economics Professors Jagdish Bhagwati and Robert Mundell, a Nobel laureate.

Tom Goldstein, dean of the Journalism School, became the first Henry R. Luce Professor of Journalism.

Six of Columbia University faculty members and alumni swept the New York City Mayor's Awards for Science and Technology. They are Horst Stormer, the Nobel Prize winning physicist, and Janet Conrad, also a physicist; Professor Angela Christiano of the College of Physicians and Surgeons; John Noble Wilford, NewYork Times science correspondent and Journalism alumnus; Dominick Purpura, dean of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and College and Gerald Cohen, founder and chief executive officer of Information Builders Inc., an Engineering alumnus.

And School of the Arts Film Professor James Schamus was honored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for his work as executive producer of the film "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."


Columbia faculty members joined a five-year, $150-million government initiative to study the structure and function of thousands of proteins, part of the effort to treat disease with knowledge from the genetic sequence. They are Wayne Hendrickson, John Hunt, Barry Honig, Eric Gouaux, Arthur Palmer, Burkhard Rost, Liang Tong, Andrew Laine, Peter Allen and Ann E. McDermott.

Keeping pace with changing technology, Shree Nayar, professor of computer science, and his research team developed a new imaging system that would enable cameras to capture a much broader range of light and color variations, promising richer and more detailed images.

Law Professor James S. Liebman completed a landmark study that found the capital punishment system "fraught with error."

Leonardo Seeber, research scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, went to India to study the 7.6 magnitude earthquake that killed 18,000 people there.

Robin Bell, also a research scientist at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, studied the impact that global climate change and human habitation has had on the Hudson River.

Marcia Meyers and Julien Teitler of the School of Social Work did research showing that there are growing gaps in quality of life of New York City residents.

A study by Columbia and University of Colorado researchers showed that stem cell transplantation appears to produce mixed results as a treatment for Parkinson's Disease and further research is warranted.

NSF awarded $6.5 million to four faculty members at the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science for research (part of the Information Technology Research Initiative) on human-computer interfaces as well as revolutionary computing and software development. The researchers are Shree Nayar, Steven M. Nowick, Kenneth L. Shepard and Steven K. Feiner.

New Programs

Columbia launched several new programs and institutes that brought to the fore an interdisciplinary approach to research.

The School of International and Public Affairs established the Institute for the Study of Europe; the Center for Energy, Marine Transportation and Public Policy, and the Center for Brazilian Studies. Meanwhile, the University Senate approved the establishment of the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy (ISERP). There is a new joint master's program in religious studies and journalism, an archaeological fieldwork and research program in southern Egypt, and a joint executive MBA program offered by the London Business School and Columbia Business School. The Radcliffe Publishing course, an intensive six-week summer program considered to be the preeminent course in the publishing world, will be relocated to the Columbia Journalism School in the near future.


Capturing the spotlights on and off the basketball courts were standouts Shawnee Pickney, CC'01, and Craig Austin, CC'02. Pickney was captain of the women's basketball team and graduates as Columbia's fourth all-time leading scorer and second all-time leading rebounder. She was one of 100 individuals to be invited to attend the WNBA's pre-draft camp. Austin became the second player in Columbia history to be named Ivy League player of the year, in addition to earning All-America honorable mention from the Associated Press. Other success stories include the men's tennis team, which captured the Ivy League title, and the varsity heavyweight crew team, which was victorious in the first Zurich Rowing World Cup regatta.


Students returning this year found themselves in new surroundings as a new residential hall at 113th and Broadway opened its doors for the first time. Meanwhile, plans are under way for a new 12-story faculty residence and K-8 school on W. 110th Street and Broadway, and two new buildings, a student residence hall for the Law School and a home for the School of Social Work, will be built on a site at 121st and Amsterdam Ave.

Construction began on several new buildings: Biosphere 2 Center launched a $10-million building project to accommodate expansion of undergraduate education programs and facilities, and a groundbreaking to begin work on the Irving Cancer Research Center—the third building in Columbia's five-building complex, the Audubon Biomedical Science and Technology Park—will double Columbia's available laboratory space for cancer research and will expand Columbia's growing genetics program.

As for on-campus dining venues, there was one more added to the list this year: Ferris Booth Commons in Alfred Lerner Hall. Columbia's newest eatery offers an array of vistas as well as a variety of food.


In response to an increased flow of inventions and the commercialization of intellectual property, Columbia restructured its overall entrepreneurial arm. Under the new structure, Columbia Innovation Enterprises (CIE) became the umbrella organization consisting of two units: Digital Knowledge Ventures or DKV (formerly, Columbia Media Enterprises) and Science and Technology Ventures or STV (formerly, Columbia Innovation Enterprises). STV patents and licenses research performed at the University while DKV is the bridge that brings intellectual property to Internet ventures.

Fathom, the Columbia-affiliated authenticated knowledge site, debuted its Web site http://www.fathom.com/ in November offering online courses, seminars, lectures, exhibits and reference material.

Published: May 16, 2001
Last modified: Sep 18, 2002

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