Columbia and New York City to Collaborate on New Public Secondary School 

October 21, 2005

To the Columbia Community,

I am very pleased to announce that we have entered into an agreement with the City of New York to collaborate with the Department of Education in the creation of a new public secondary school in Manhattanville in West Harlem where Columbia has proposed building a new campus. Mayor Michael Bloomberg addressed the project today in a speech he delivered at Columbia.

The new "Columbia Science, Math, and Engineering Secondary School," as it is now being called, will deal with the critical need for improved secondary education in science, math, and engineering. The partnership is also a permanent and tangible expression of our deep and longstanding commitment to serve the City and our surrounding communities, and indeed the nation, in a way we know best - namely, through education.

Let me take a moment to describe some of the features of the new school. This will be a public school, serving approximately 650 students from grades six through 12. Admissions to the school in the sixth grade will be selective, and priority will be given to high performing local students from northern Manhattan above 96th Street. Additional seats available in the ninth grade will be open to students Citywide who meet specific academic standards of excellence. Ultimately, at least half of the school's total enrollment will be comprised of students from northern Manhattan.

The Department of Education will operate the school in close partnership with our faculty and graduate students from various parts of the University, but especially from the Arts and Sciences, The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the basic sciences at our Medical Center campus in Washington Heights. The school is scheduled to open in September 2007 in transitional space.

This project responds to a great national need. A recent bi-partisan report of the National Academies has highlighted what is now all too clear: that, as a group, public school students in the United States are undereducated in math and science and, further, that our country is facing a critical lack of professionals entering these fields. This is particularly true with respect to women and minorities. We envision the new public school as dedicated to improving this state of affairs, perhaps even making discoveries that will be broadly helpful to others across society.

Columbia will be an integral part of the school's planning team and assist in the design of curricula and the academic program. Additionally, we will help develop joint curricular and extracurricular programs for the students. Columbia faculty and graduate students interested in becoming involved with the school will have many opportunities to do so, such as collaboratively teaching classes, preparing students for science and math competitions, and supporting the professional development of the school's teachers. All involvement will be on a voluntary basis.

As members of Columbia's academic community, students and faculty of the school will have access to Columbia's facilities and may attend special campus events and lectures. Other opportunities for students might include internships and enrollment in Columbia courses during their senior year, when the professor deems it appropriate.

This unique public secondary school is a natural outgrowth of our commitment to northern Manhattan and our already extensive involvement in local education. Countless faculty and students every year participate in outstanding programs and partnerships to assist in the education of younger students.

Columbia's Double Discovery Center is a highly notable example, having over four decades helped students in the City and our local communities graduate from high school and college at a rate significantly above the national average. The Science Honors Program is another. Run by The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science since 1958, this tuition-free program gives high school students with exceptional talent in mathematics and the sciences the opportunity to take courses in physical, chemical, biological behavior and computing sciences and other areas taught by faculty from all of Columbia's science departments. The Medical Center and many other parts of the University also provide an incredible - though largely unheralded - array of educational programs in science, math, and engineering for public school students and teachers.

I believe we will be extremely proud of this collaboration with the City and with our community. Thanks to the shared vision and commitment of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York City schools Chancellor Joel Klein, this partnership is both possible and extremely promising. I look forward to providing you with more information as the plans for the school unfold.


Lee C. Bollinger