Low Plaza

Columbia Inaugurates President Lee Bollinger with Largest, Most Inclusive Celebration Ever on Campus

Lee C. Bollinger

Columbia will inaugurate Lee C. Bollinger as its 19th president on October 3 in a day-long celebration highlighting the university's diversity and tradition of commitment to academic excellence. U.N. Secretary Kofi Annan, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Mayor David Dinkins, on behalf of Congressman Charles Rangel, are expected to take part in the Investiture Ceremony, beginning at 10:00 a.m.

In the President's Address, President Bollinger will reflect on the history, legacy and enormous contributions of Columbia, the role of a great university in society and its responsibility to address the great issues of our time. President Bollinger will also discuss his vision for Columbia's future and its leadership role in New York City, its partnership role with the surrounding communities and its place as a citizen of the world.

"Columbia is the quintessential great urban university," President Bollinger will say. "It is international in perspective, in consciousness, in our interests and our engagements as students, teachers and scholars. Columbia possesses naturally the sense of itself as a citizen of the world. Bollinger will add how crucial it is for Columbia to retain its distinctive academic character with this enhanced involvement with the outside world."

Thousands of people have been invited to the colorful outdoor festivities, the largest and most inclusive ever held on the Morningside Heights campus, including the entire faculty, staff and student body, the alumni, and residents from the surrounding communities and New York City.

Formerly President of the University of Michigan and Provost of Dartmouth College, President Bollinger is a renowned legal scholar, with an expertise in free speech and the First Amendment. He is an alumnus of Columbia's Law School, where he is also a professor. He became president of Columbia on June 1.

Inauguration day will start early for President Bollinger, as he leads dozens of students and faculty in a 5K Fun Run that steps off from Grant's Tomb at 7:30 a.m., followed by a ceremonial robing in the Butler Library. After a full-scale academic procession, the Investiture Ceremony will take place at 10:00 a.m. at Low Plaza. The master of ceremonies will be Eric Kandel, a Columbia professor and Nobel Laureate. David Stern, chairman of The Trustees of Columbia University and Commissioner of the National Basketball Association, will introduce Secretary-General Annan, Mayor Bloomberg and Congressman Rangel, who will greet the new President. Chairman Stern will also present a copy of the 248-year-old institution's historic charter, ceremonial keys, and the President's Chair, once owned by Benjamin Franklin, to President Bollinger. The keys symbolize the transfer of authority over the 21,000-student Ivy League School.

The Investiture will be followed by a party on College Walk that will turn large portions of the campus into a New York-style street fair, with food carts and vendors.

The program will stretch through the afternoon into the evening with four interdisciplinary academic symposia during which Nobel laureates Eric Kandel (Medicine, 2000) and Joseph Stiglitz (Economics, 2001) and leading thinkers among Columbia's faculty in the sciences, humanities, law, medicine and the arts, will address critical issues in society and scholarship. At 2:00 p.m. a panel of Columbia faculty will discuss "Perception, Memory and Art," in Roone Arledge Auditorium while "Ethics and Democracy," will be the topic at Miller Theatre. At 3:30 p.m., "The 21st Century City," will be discussed in Lerner Hall, and "Global Perspectives," will be the topic at Miller Theatre. Each of these symposia center on the global, national and local issues in which leading universities are increasingly engaged. (Click to view a complete schedule of symposia speakers and details.)

From 6:00 to 10:00 p.m., a student celebration will transform the campus into a Renaissance-like fair showcasing Columbia's student body, including performances by theater troupes, vocal groups, poets and writers, martial arts experts and dancers. After refreshments and socializing on Low Plaza, performances will begin, culminating in a Student Film Presentation. These performances are an opportunity for President Bollinger to be introduced to the talent and excellence of the Columbia student body.

Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in New York State and the fifth oldest in the nation. President Bollinger's predecessors include Samuel Johnson, the first president of King's College, as Columbia was known before the Revolutionary War, Nicholas Murray Butler, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and most recently George Rupp, who completed nine years as president this year.

Published: Oct 03, 2002
Last modified: Oct 04, 2002


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