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Reflections on 2001-02 Academic Year Include September 11 Attacks and Major Administrative Changes

By Jason Hollander

George Rupp

Because of the terrorist attacks of September 11, the 2001-02 academic year will endure in the memory of Columbians like few others in recent history. Within an hour of the strikes, Columbia convened a crisis management group to assess the situation and prepare a plan of response. The implementation of that plan continues even now, more than eight months later.

Almost immediately, Columbia began sending supplies to assist rescue workers at Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan; doctors and students from the College of Physicians and Surgeons went downtown to offer emergency assistance; office space was lent to some non-profit groups displaced by the destruction, and funds were raised for recovery equipment and memorial scholarships for victims.

The University suffered the devastating loss of more than 40 alumni in the attacks. An inter-faith memorial service was held for them on campus in November in the Roone Arledge Auditorium of Alfred Lerner Hall.

Lee C. Bollinger

Throughout the year, dozens of conferences, seminars, forums and lectures were sponsored by schools within the University in response to the attack. Some of the world's best scholars were asked to shed light on the social and political factors that led to the attacks and what will need to be done to prevent them in the future. Students found their courses of study inevitably affected, realizing they were living through an historic time soon to fill space in textbooks for many different subjects.

The year was also marked by administrative regeneration, as Columbia filled major roles, most notably by naming Lee Bollinger, president of the University of Michigan, to become Columbia's 19th president this July. Bollinger, who is a graduate of Columbia's Law School, joined the faculty of the University of Michigan Law School in 1973, becoming dean in 1978. He became provost of Dartmouth College in 1994 and was named the 12th president of Michigan in 1996. His wife, Jean Magnano Bollinger, received a master's degree from Columbia and his daughter, Carey, graduates from Columbia Law School on May 22, 2002.

Bollinger is replacing President George Rupp, who announced last year that he would be stepping down after nine successful years. Rupp will soon become president of the International Rescue Committee.

Jeffrey Sachs

One of the world's leading economists, Harvard's Jeffrey Sachs, was named director of the Columbia Earth Institute and Susan Feagin, vice president for development at the University of Michigan was chosen to become Columbia's next vice president for development and alumni relations. Several deans were appointed as well, including Jeanette Takamura in the School of Social Work, Henry Pinkham in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and Ira Lamster for the School of Dental and Oral Surgery.

Michael Crow, executive vice provost and professor of science and technology policy in the School of International and Public Affairs, recently announced his decision to leave Columbia and assume the presidency of Arizona State University.

In October, Joseph Stiglitz won the Nobel Prize in Economics, becoming the third Columbia professor to win the economics prize in the past six years and the fifth Columbia professor overall to win a Nobel since 1996. Stiglitz, who has appointments in the School of International Affairs, the economics department of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Business, is the former chief economist of the World Bank.

Columbia College continued its climb this year towards the top of Ivy League selectivity, receiving 14,136 applications (up from 14,094 last year) and admitting 1,637 students for a rate of 11.6%. This rate is behind only Harvard and Princeton in the Ivy league and a major stride for the College compared with 1991 when the admission rate was 32.3% and less than 6,000 applications were received.

The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science and School of General Studies have also achieved record levels of admissions rates and applications over the past few years.

Published: May 22, 2002
Last modified: Sep 18, 2002

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