In Recognition and Appreciation of University Gifts and Support
December 22, 2004
To the Columbia Community:
As the winter break approaches, I would like to take a moment to recognize some very important recent gifts to the University. As we move toward our new University fundraising campaign, these leadership gifts, and continued strong giving across the University, signal the degree to which alumni and friends, including University Trustees, corporations, and foundations, share Columbia's commitment to equal access and diversity, research excellence, and intellectual achievement.
The University has been and will remain deeply committed to need-blind admissions and full-need financial aid at Columbia College and The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. This policy embodies the American ideal of ensuring that talented students, regardless of their family income, have the opportunity to attend leading universities such as Columbia. A challenge for us, however, has been that this admirable policy is not sufficiently endowed. I am personally committed to addressing this urgent priority, and we have made it an early focus of our new campaign. To that end, I am very happy to say that three of Columbia's most dedicated alumni have made key leadership commitments to support the College's financial aid program. University Trustee Mark Kingdon (CC '71) has pledged $10 million and Columbia College Alumni Association President Robert Berne (CC '60, Business '62) $5 million for scholarships. University Trustee Richard Witten (CC '75) has promised at least $5 million for scholarships as part of a campaign pledge of $10 million. These early gifts already are proving an inspiring example to other alumni.
At a special dinner on November 18th, the College presented New England Patriots owner and Trustee Emeritus Robert Kraft (CC '63) the Alexander Hamilton Award -- its highest honor for alumni. Robert's extraordinary generosity made possible the creation of the Robert K. Kraft Family Center for Jewish Student Life, providing a permanent home to Columbia's vibrant Jewish community. Robert himself attended the College on scholarship, and more than $1.2 million was raised in his honor to support College scholarships -- a record for any Alexander Hamilton Award event.
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a $5 million challenge grant to help strengthen and preserve teaching and research in the humanities. With the University making a corresponding commitment to raise an additional $15 million in funding, the Mellon Foundation's award will lead to the creation of five endowed faculty chairs. The names of many past and present Columbia intellectuals have been incorporated into the scholarly pantheon for their enduring contributions in the fields of social science, politics, literary criticism, and ethics, including Lionel Trilling's analysis of "King Lear," Robert Hofstadter's "American Political Tradition," and Robert Merton's middle range theory. The five new professors of humanities, celebrated scholars with interests spanning a range of disciplines, will continue in that same proud tradition and will bolster undergraduate instruction in the Core Curriculum.
The academic mission of the Columbia University Medical Center is, of course, another focus of the campaign. Columbia researchers have made incredible strides in developing innovative, noninvasive treatments for heart disease. Long-time friend of CUMC and Trustee Dr. Clyde Wu (M.D. '56) has provided $10 million to establish a permanent endowment for the Center for Molecular Cardiology at the College of Physicians & Surgeons. Under the direction of CUMC's Dr. Andrew Marks, the new Helen and Clyde Wu Center for Molecular Cardiology will expand programs and studies to aid the medical community's search for causes and cures. Clyde's generosity also has funded four full professorships at P&S in cancer, immunology, chemical biology, and molecular cardiology.
Johnson & Johnson has pledged $5 million to fund a special scholars program to accelerate the development of new medicines and therapeutics for brain-related diseases such as schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, and epilepsy. By establishing the Paul Janssen Scholars Program in Translational Neuroscience, this grant will enable the researchers and scholars at CUMC to transform laboratory discoveries into clinical remedies that improve the outlook for those with debilitating illnesses of the brain.
On behalf of Columbia, I want to thank all of these individuals and organizations, as well as so many others, for their support of our University.
I also would like to take a moment to recognize some of the remarkable members of this community of students, faculty, and staff, whose exceptional talent, passion, and drive continue to bring great distinction to Columbia. This year we have 31 student Fulbright Fellows, more than any other university in the nation. The tremendous success of our students is mirrored by the high distinction of our faculty. Notable among them are University Professor Richard Axel of CUMC, who together with his colleague Linda Buck received the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, and Jeremy Waldron, Maurice and Hilda Friedman Professor of Law, and Rosalind Krauss, Meyer Schapiro Professor of Modern Art and Theory, whom I was pleased to recommend to the Trustees as University Professors, Columbia's highest faculty distinction. The Trustees approved both at our December meeting.
I am grateful to all who have made 2004 so remarkable and 2005 so promising. I thank you all for the opportunity to share this good news, and wish you a happy holiday season and safe travels.
Lee C. Bollinger