Columbia University's 250th Anniversary

Dear Colleagues:

I write to remind you that the 250th anniversary of the founding of Columbia has arrived and urge you to take part in the events marking the start of the year-long celebration of the University.

The anniversary's Opening Weekend takes place in mid-October (October 15-19, 2003). Two major symposia will be held. One, entitled "Constitutions, Democracy and the Rule of Law," will assemble a panel of Columbia faculty members, led by Robert K. Merton Professor of Social Sciences Jon Elster and Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy Akeel Bilgrami, to explore the issues of whether, and how, constitutions constrain governments and the impact of constitutions on individual liberties in a time of heightened concern for security. The second, "Genes & Genomes: Impact on Medicine and Society," organized by Professor Thomas Jessell of the College of Physicians and Surgeons and Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, and Joanna Rubinstein, Associate Dean for Institutional Affairs, Health Sciences, will examine how genetic research will influence the diagnosis and treatment of human diseases, ranging from cancer to the molecular underpinnings of abnormal human behavior.

A central event of the celebratory weekend is a "birthday bash" on Friday, October 17, at which members of the Columbia community will give performances. On Saturday, October 18, the Columbia football team plays Penn at the annual homecoming game. A number of festivities -- including a family-friendly carnival to which you all are invited -- are planned at Baker Field that day.

Several tours of the campus and the neighborhood are also scheduled for the opening weekend. The tours, led by Columbia faculty and staff, will allow us to learn more about the campus and its environs.

You can find much more information about the activities that are planned for the 250th celebration at or by clicking on the Columbia 250 shield on the University's home page. Please join me on Opening Weekend, and at the various events planned throughout the coming year, as we pay tribute to Columbia's past and look forward to its future.


Lee C. Bollinger