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Sept. 7, 2007

Columbia Campaign for Undergraduate Education Launches

At a ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 8, marking the 100th anniversary of Hamilton Hall, Columbia University publicly launched The Columbia Campaign for Undergraduate Education, an initiative to raise $865 million to support undergraduates in Columbia College and the School of General Studies and the faculty who teach them. With a focus on enhancing the endowments for financial aid, student life, and faculty, the undergraduate campaign reaffirms the centrality of undergraduate education at Columbia.

Hamilton Hall, as painted by
Hamilton Hall, as painted by Elisha Cooper for the invitations for the 100th anniversary celebration

“In strengthening undergraduate education, the heart of our University, this campaign will ensure that Columbia remains a place where faculty, staff and students come together to discover new knowledge in service of our ever-changing world,” said President Lee C. Bollinger.

“The campaign focuses us all on core academic needs at an auspicious moment,” wrote Columbia College Dean Austin Quigley and Vice President of Arts and Sciences Nicholas Dirks in letter to alumni announcing the undergraduate campaign. “A Columbia education has never been more highly valued than it is now, and for good reason. We have an opportunity to strengthen for the long term the foundation upon which our undergraduate mission depends.”

To date Columbia has raised over $457 million, more than half of the overall goal. The most significant gift came in April 2007 when John W. Kluge CC’37 pledged $200 million to support financial aid for College students—part of a $400 million gift to Columbia that was the largest ever for financial aid at any university.

Columbia’s fundraising effort is bolstered by a $37.5 million matching challenge for endowed professorships established by Trustee Gerry Lenfest LAW’58, which has already led to the endowment of eight chairs in the Arts and Sciences faculty that teaches undergraduates. And, building on the campaign goal of broad participation at all giving levels, the Columbia College Fund just completed a record year in which it raised $11.8 million dollars.

Additionally, this campaign’s priorities include endowment and ongoing support for faculty research as well as funds for construction of the new interdisciplinary science building at Broadway and 120th Street; the renovation of existing laboratories, offices and classrooms; and upgrades to student advising and the Center for Career Education.

“We have a historic opportunity to broaden and strengthen the financial base of undergraduate education at Columbia,” said Richard Witten CC’75, a co-chair of the Columbia Campaign for Undergraduate Education as well as the larger Columbia Campaign, the $4 billion University-wide effort of which this initiative is part. “It is historic because the fundamental importance of a high-quality undergraduate program is now center stage at the University.”

The Columbia Campaign for Undergraduate Education is led by campaign co-chairs Witten, Mark Kingdon CC’71 and Philip Milstein CC’71; committee co-chairs Robert Berne CC’60 BU’62, Abigail Black Elbaum CC’92 BU’94, Jonathan Lavine CC’88, Michael B. Rothfeld CC’69 BU’71 JRN’71 SIPA’71, Charles Santoro CC’82, and George Van Amson CC’74; and committee members Russell C. Horowitz CC’88, Conrad Lung CC’72, J. Ezra Merkin CC’76, Phillip M. Satow CC’63, Kyriakos Y. Tsakopoulos CC’93 and Michael L. Winchell, Parent ’03, P’06, P’10.

The Columbia Campaign for Undergraduate Education is the largest Morningside campus initiative of the $4 billion Columbia Campaign, a University-wide effort that was formally launched in fall 2006 and is expected to conclude on December 31, 2011. More than $2.38 billion has been raised already.