The Heart of the Enterprise
Columbia's gifted faculty members have never been content to restrict their activities to the classroom or laboratory, as important as they find the job of educating tomorrow's leaders.
From the University's earliest days, professors like Samuel Latham Mitchill, who joined the faculty in 1792, have put their interests and expertise to work for the common good—in Mitchill's case, by promoting sanitary reforms, writing the first guidebook to New York, and cofounding the College of Physicians and Surgeons. The twentieth century began with the profoundly influential teaching, writing, and activism of John Dewey, philosopher and innovative educator in New York. As successors gave way to successors over the next hundred years, the relationship between faculty members and the community grew closer and the ranks more diverse, with today's women and minority faculty bringing new perspectives and skills to the quest for partnership between Columbia and the city.
Experts on women's history, like University Professor Caroline Bynum, have broadened our knowledge of the past and helped narrow the gap between the academy and human experience. University Professor Emeritus Louis Henkin, still teaching and still at the helm of the Center for the Study of Human Rights, continues to battle injustice and to give students the opportunity to join him. The cultural and sociopolitical climate of New York is enriched by the continuing contributions of University Professors Emeriti Jacques Barzun, Donald Keene '42C '50GSAS, Robert Merton '85HON, and Fritz Stern '46C '53GSAS, as it is by current University Professors Simon Schama, R. Kent Greenawalt '63L, Edward Said, and Michael Riffaterre '55GSAS. Many of the seminal discoveries made by University Professors Richard Axel, Ronald Breslow, Eric Kandel, and Tsung-Dao Lee have been life-saving, and all have changed our view of ourselves and the world.
The mantles of such legendary teachers as Lionel Trilling, Carl and Mark Van Doren, Paul Lazarsfeld '70HON, Richard Hofstadter, Joseph Wood Krutch, Margaret Mead, Brander Matthews, and Georgia O'Keeffe, to name but a few, have passed to a new generation of faculty who also play an active role in the life of the city. Among those working today to inform the general public's knowledge of New York are Eric Foner '63C '69GSAS, the DeWitt Clinton Professor of History, Professor of History Elizabeth Blackmar, and Architecture Professors Gwendolyn Wright, Peter Marcuse '62GSAS, and Elliott Sclar. The city's skyline and neighborhoods—together with our understanding of them—have been shaped by the influential Architecture Dean Bernard Tschumi, former Dean James Stewart Polshek, Ware Professor of Architecture Kenneth Frampton, and Associate Professors Steven Holl and Stanley Allen.
It is Columbia's good fortune to have as teachers the artists, performers, writers, and composers in the arts capital of the world. They are drawn to our School of the Arts, now headed by Dean Bruce W. Ferguson, former director of the New York Academy of Art, just as legends of jazz come to our campus because of Robert O'Meally, the Zora Neale Hurston Professor of English and Comparative Literature, who is director of our unique Center for Jazz Studies. The impact of our School of the Arts faculty and students on the theatres, concert halls, and galleries of our city helps make New York one of the world's great cultural centers.
Of particular importance are the efforts by these and other faculty to put their talent to work for their fellow New Yorkers. Professor Magda Bogin works with the Liberty Partnerships Program at the Bank Street College of Education to help one hundred inner-city students discover and train their creative talents. Assistant Professor Jamal Joseph founded and directs Impact, a Harlem-based youth theatre company widely considered a leader in programs to mentor young people. Graduate theatre student Darnel Jones invited 1,500 elementary school children from Harlem and Brooklyn to attend a performance of his opera investigating the historical context of Uncle Tom's Cabin.
Film studies at Columbia began in 1916 with D. W. Griffith, whose camera could be seen on the streets of New York. The last major role played by James Cagney was in the New York City tale Ragtime, directed by one of Griffith's brilliant successors at Columbia, Milos Forman. James Schamus, associate professor of professional practice, teaches Columbia students the history, theory, and criticism of film at the same time that he writes and produces the acclaimed movies of Ang Lee, which include The Ice Storm, Sense and Sensibility, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
The School of Social Work, by virtue of its mission as the oldest such school in the country, transcends distinctions between academic work and community service. Dean Ronald Feldman and his predecessors—including Mitchell Ginsberg '41SSW '86HON and George Brager—have in their professional lives exerted a major impact on municipal government. The School's faculty members, building on a rich tradition of links to the diverse communities they serve, are deeply involved in studying and alleviating social problems. Much of their work is undertaken in close collaboration with public and private agencies, as in the Center for the Study of Social Work Practice, which connects the School with the Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services.
Faculty of our Graduate School of Journalism, led by Dean Tom Goldstein '69J '71L, the Henry R. Luce Professor of Journalism and a veteran of City Hall and the New York Times, are finely attuned to what Professor Samuel Freedman calls "the vigor, anguish, and exultation of life in New York." Their ranks include a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team that covered the World Trade Center bombing for the Times, a former New York editor of Ebony, a former education reporter for the Daily News, a Channel 13/WNET senior executive producer, a reporter for The Village Voice, and other men and women reflecting the breadth of media and communications in New York.
At the Law School, faculty and staff alike are dedicated to addressing New York's most difficult issues. From Dean Leebron to Assistant Dean Ellen Chapnick, director of the Center for Public Interest Law, to Clinical Professor Philip Genty, who runs the Prisoners and Families Clinic, Columbia's legal scholars embrace the community challenge. Among the clinical professors leading the way are Barbara Schatz, the director of clinical programs, and Mary Marsh Zulack and Conrad Johnson '75C, who oversee the Fair Housing Clinic, Jane Spinak, the Edward Ross Aranow Professor, who runs the Child Advocacy Clinic, and Barbara Schatz, the director of clinical programs, with a special focus on the Non-profit Organizations and Micro-enterprise Clinic, which supports small enterprises in Harlem and Morningside Heights.
And at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), Dean Lisa Anderson '77 '81GSAS has shown an awareness of the city's needs that is evident not only in the curriculum, but also in the participation of faculty and students in the life of New York. New ventures in community development include the establishment, by Associate Professors Paula Wilson and Mark Gordon, in partnership with Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement, of SIPA's first student-run, nonprofit business.
Many other Columbians are active all over the city, as the following sampling illustrates: Professor Kenneth Jackson last year shepherded 400 of his students on field trips to Chinatown, Little Italy, the Bronx, the African-American community of Weeksville in Brooklyn, and the Lubavitch Hasidic neighborhood in Crown Heights. University Chaplain Jewelnel Davis, director of Earl Hall, represented Columbia at commemorations for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Convent Avenue Baptist Theatre, at the Apollo Theater, and at a march marking the anniversary of Dr. King's assassination; Peter Awn, dean of the School of General Studies and professor of religion, launched the "Columbia City Seminars," an evening program that features faculty members at different points of interest in the city speaking on topics related to the locales; Secretary of the University Keith Walton is an active member of the Apollo Theater board of directors.
The success of Columbia's summer undergraduate scholarships in chemistry, with their focus on women and minorities, is a tribute to the dedication of Professor of Chemistry Leonard Fine. Another faculty member dedicated to nurturing future scientists, and ultimately to recruiting more minority students into Ph.D. programs, is Allan Blaer '64C '65 '77GSAS, adjunct professor of physics. He has designed a summer program in physics and mathematics and also directs the Columbia Science Honors Program, which brings outstanding high school students to campus on Saturday mornings throughout the academic year.
In the wake of city budget cuts that have reduced the number of local youth sports programs and recreational facilities, the thirty-nine-team Columbia Community Baseball/Softball League, under the direction of the Harlem Athletic Association, has assumed new importance. According to John Reeves, director of physical education and intercollegiate athletics, Columbia's coaches also continue to conduct summer baseball, basketball, field hockey, and soccer camps for community youths at an affordable price. Our junior tennis program is offered free to 325 youngsters, while the Street Squash program makes our squash courts available for neighborhood young people, along with a taste of academics.
Nowhere is the faculty's concern for the well-being of New York more critical than in the hospitals they staff and the local clinics they have created to assure extraordinary care and treatment for everyone. Thanks to its global reputation, Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center attracts patients from around the world, but even more come seeking treatment from the neighborhoods of northern Manhattan. With the closing of five community hospitals over the years, the Columbia Presbyterian campus of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital is the major source of primary medical and dental care for the residents of Washington Heights, treating more Medicaid patients than any other hospital in the city.
At the School of Nursing, Dean Mary Mundinger '81SPH, the Centennial Professor of Health Policy, and her faculty maintain close connections to New York's vital centers of patient care. The School owns and manages two practices in Manhattan in addition to practices in the Fort Tryon Nursing Home, the Columbia Urban Family Practice, and Pediatrics 2000. Faculty nurse-practitioners work in a half-dozen departments at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.
Lawrence Kolb '99HON, former chair of Columbia's psychiatric department and state commissioner of mental hygiene, is a leader in new approaches to mental illness who built the New York State Psychiatric Institute in Washington Heights and became its trailblazing director. His successor as head of the psychiatric department, Herbert Pardes, served until halfway through last year as Columbia's vice president for the health sciences and dean of the faculty of medicine until being named the new president of NewYork Presbyterian-Hospital. For the balance of the year, the Health Sciences Division was led by Interim Deans David Hirsh, the Robert Wood Johnson, Jr. Professor and chair of biochemistry and biophysics, and Thomas Morris '58P&S, Alumni Professor of Medicine, who admirably fulfilled their responsibilities to oversee and participate in a range of service activities.
Another member of the Health Sciences faculty whose professional life revolves around community service is Dr. Alan Felix '83P&S. He is an associate clinical professor of psychiatry as well as the director of the Critical Time Intervention health program at the Fort Washington Armory Men's Shelter, which provides medical treatment to the homeless and helps them make the transition to community housing.
Dr. Felix, and others named here as illustrative, represent hundreds of Health Sciences faculty who give of themselves to the community. But one faculty administrator deserves special mention: Dr. Allan Formicola, dean of the School of Dental and Oral Surgery since 1978, whose creation of dental clinics in the community and encouragement of minority students in the dental profession have won laurels on which he refuses to rest. Dr. Formicola is planning to spend his retirement years working full time in the neighborhood, coordinating and improving Columbia's contributions to the city. The University's senior dean has set a high standard for us all.