Contact: Suzanne Trimel For immediate release

(212) 854-6579 May 17, 1999



Rise in Schoolchildren Touring Columbia Campus


More than 30,000 visitors tour the Columbia campus every year -- most of them high school students from around the world. This spring a new group has become a force among the ranks of campus visitors -- young children being groomed for impressive futures.

The Visitor‚s Center, according to manager Jennifer Russo, has been called on with increasing frequency to provide tours for school groups of youngsters, some as young as 9 or 10, from New York City and the nearby suburbs. As a former fifth-grade teacher, Russo understands the importance of early motivation in the lives of children. She said teachers use the campus tour as a way to introduce to their students the idea that they should work hard and aim for college, even if they haven‚t mastered long division yet.

Through the spring months, the Visitors Center has hosted tours for 500 students, including groups of middle school students who participate in a program run by the Children‚s Aid Society called Project Live, a dropout prevention and literacy program. Project Live, through a mentoring program with corporate sponsors, tries to prevent students from joining the 48.5 percent of New York City high school students who drop out each year.

Other school groups have come from suburban New Jersey, Harlem and elsewhere in the city.

Jane Doherty, Columbia College Class of ő95 who teaches at P.S. 4 in Washington Heights, recently guided her class of eager fifth graders as they listened politely to a Columbia tour guide describing the significance of the Alma Mater statue in front of Low Library.

„I want them to know there‚s a really great school just a few subway stops away where they can go if they work for it,š said Doherty, asked what she hopes a campus tour might accomplish. „This is the way to set an example for college.š

Her class made a VIP stop that isn‚t on everyone‚s tour -- President George Rupp‚s office for a brief pre-arranged visit. Rupp fielded questions from the group, including one he has definitely not been asked before.

„Are you the owner here?š the boy asked. „No,š said Rupp, „I‚m really more like the caretaker.š

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