Office of the President, Lee C. Bollinger

End of Year Update

June 12, 2006

Dear Colleagues in the Columbia Community,

With a strong academic year behind us, we had a sparkling commencement day that thankfully gave everyone a chance to dry out from some of the previous day’s water-logged ceremonies. Having said our farewells to a wonderful and enthusiastic group of new graduates, I’d like to provide an update on a range of recent campus developments that will have an important impact on all of us, including future classes of Columbia students.


Since it was on the front page of the Sunday New York Times last month, it’s hardly a secret that we are preparing to embark on a major new University fundraising campaign. We are off to an impressive start with the largest gift ever received by Columbia—$200 million from Dawn M. Greene and the Jerome L. Greene Foundation to establish the Jerome L. Greene Science Center. More recently, the Business School received donations totaling $45 million from three prominent alumni, Arthur J. Samberg, Russell L. Carson, and Henry R. Kravis, to support faculty development and launch new curricular and research initiatives at the Business School. These major gifts are significant not only for their generosity but also for what they support: the fundamentals of teaching and research. A central goal of the new campaign will be to provide greater support to our faculty and students, especially by building endowment for professorial chairs and financial aid.


This past week the University’s Board of Trustees resolved to name the Mailman School of Public Health building at 722 W. 168 St. in honor of the school’s extraordinary dean, Dr. Allan Rosenfield. We made the announcement at a remarkable tribute dinner and special World Leaders Forum on issues that Allan cares most about—women’s health, human rights, and AIDS/HIV prevention and treatment. As you may have seen in the Times, the event attracted friends and colleagues from across the globe, including former President Bill Clinton, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, and actor and philanthropist Richard Gere.

That terrific turnout shouldn’t have surprised us. Over the last three decades at Columbia, Allan has not only inspired and trained generations of public health leaders, he has helped define what a school of public health should be. Having the Mailman School reside in the Allan Rosenfield building is a living legacy to what Allan himself has built here—and to the impact he’s had on people from northern Manhattan to southeast Asia and southern Africa.

A group of respected foundations joined together with Dr. Rosenfield’s many friends and supporters to establish a sizable Tribute Fund dedicated to the renovation of the school’s new home. The Tribute Fund, just launched this past March, has already received commitments totaling more than $36 million to enable Allan to achieve his goal of creating facilities that match the extraordinary caliber of the Mailman School’s departments, centers, and programs. We are enormously proud that his name will now always be an essential part of the University.


Professor Jean Howard, the vice provost for diversity initiatives, continues to lead the University’s efforts to increase faculty diversity through recruitment, retention, and faculty development. As part of the Diversity Hiring Initiative in the Arts and Sciences, we have recruited nine outstanding women and minority scholars to join the faculty this year and have extended offers to several more. That’s a very strong start to a three-year initiative during which we plan to add 15 to 20 faculty members to Arts and Sciences. On June 16, through a small grant from the Ford Foundation, we are hosting the first meeting of academic administrators involved in diversity efforts from Brown, Harvard, MIT, NYU, Princeton, and Yale. Susan Sturm, professor of law and social responsibility, is working with Jean to lead this effort, which we hope will yield beneficial collaborations with our peer institutions. Early in the next academic year, I will report on the progress we’re now making on this front across the University, including SEAS and the professional schools.


Provost Alan Brinkley created a Faculty Quality of Life Committee to facilitate discussions among faculty and senior administrators on quality of life issues. The committee has been meeting for the last month with Alan, Lisa Hogarty, Joe Ienuso, and other administrators. Its members are Charles Hailey, associate professor of physics; Sharon Marcus, associate professor of English; Robert Shapiro, associate professor of political science; Robert Lieberman, associate professor, SIPA; Panagiota Daskalopoulos, professor of mathematics; George Deodatis, professor, SEAS; Laurie Hodrick, professor of business; and Michael Bell, associate professor, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. Their effort is critical to our goal of recruiting and retaining the most talented faculty and creating an environment where people can do their best work in teaching and research. Among the questions they will consider are parenting issues such as childcare and schooling; work life issues such as staffing, leave policies, office space, and policies governing research funds; housing; and retirement planning.


If you’ve been reading The New York Times Magazine, New York Magazine or The Village Voice lately, you know that our effort to weave the University’s long-term future in the fabric of Upper Manhattan is moving into high gear in the months ahead. The Department of City Planning is currently reviewing draft chapters of the plan’s Environmental Impact Statement to ensure it provides all the necessary data. We hope to enter into New York City’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (appealingly known as “ULURP”) this autumn on our proposed academic development of the blocks between 125 and 133 streets west of Broadway and east of 12 Avenue.

In the weeks ahead, we hope that community leaders establish a set of priorities for the community and begin to negotiate a formal agreement on community benefits with us. You should know that it has been at the request of some of our local elected officials and the leadership of Community Board 9 that we have waited for this process to crystallize rather than engage in an informal series of negotiations on community benefits with individual groups in the neighborhood.

We very much welcome this process of public engagement on the Manhattanville revitalization plan because it provides precisely the kind of discussion and debate that is not only part of any major development in New York City but also the hallmark of university life. I am confident that our academic growth will bring extraordinary benefits to the local communities and all of New York City.

The most noticeable example will be the estimated 7,000 new direct jobs, and thousands more indirect jobs, created by Columbia’s proposed presence in Manhattanville, along with new retail opportunities for local merchants and local consumers, a public math and science secondary school, and a welcoming, human-scale urban streetscape. As the Chronicle of Higher Education recently reported, our plans combine the “desirable elements of campus and urban life.”

More subtle, but perhaps more important, are the incalculable benefits to New York City. As Mayor Bloomberg and Congressman Rangel both suggested at the March 20 announcement of the new Jerome L. Greene Center for Mind, Brain and Behavior, in order to remain a thriving economic and cultural capital, New York needs our great universities to provide the intellectual foundation of knowledge and creativity. In serving as an anchor for the proposed first phase of a Manhattanville campus, the Greene Science Center will be a place where scholars can advance our understanding of the human organism in ways we can only now begin to imagine, leading to cures for diseases and fresh insights into many of life’s challenges. It will ensure that Upper Manhattan can be home to a new renaissance of interdisciplinary thinking and research and New York City continues to be a place that attracts the best scientific minds to do their best work.


If Manhattanville presents the opportunity to secure Columbia’s long-term future in Upper Manhattan, the Northwest Corner Science Building at 120 Street and Broadway will have an even more immediate impact on the space constraints on Morningside Heights—allowing us to hire faculty in key areas and add new research laboratories, teaching space and a consolidated science library. But no building on the Morningside campus stands alone. By physically connecting departments, the science building will unlock new opportunities for collaboration and interdisciplinary research in the areas of chemistry, biology, engineering, nanoscience, and physics. And by freeing up existing space for reallocation and renovation, the building will help ease the space constraints in other departments, as well.

David Hirsh, executive vice president for research, and Ann McDermott, professor of chemistry, are overseeing the academic planning. Architect José Rafael Moneo has designed the new building to sit on top of Dodge Fitness Center. When completed, it wil l be connected to Chandler, which currently houses the Department of Chemistry, and Pupin, home to the Departments of Physics and Astronomy. We expect construction to begin by the summer of 2007 and the building to be ready in 2010.


Hosting significant world leaders in programs that allow us to connect knowledge across academic, cultural, and national boundaries is now a regular part of our campus life. Next semester, we will have one of the truly transformational leaders of our time join us for a more extended exchange with Columbia students and faculty. This coming October, Václav Havel— the last president of Czechoslovakia and the first president of the Czech Republic— will take up an 8-week residency at Columbia . A poet, playwright, and champion of humanistic values, President Havel embodies the convergence of the arts and humanities with civic leadership, and we are honored to have him be part of our academic community. It is especially notable that one of President Havel’s plays wil l b e on the syllabus in Literature and the Humanities, and he himself will deliver the class-wide lecture as part of the Core Curriculum. In addition to working closely with the College and the faculty in the Core, Gregory Mosher and the Columbia University Arts Initiative are collaborating with colleagues at the School of the Arts, SIPA, and across the University on this remarkable endeavor, and we expect many more details to come into focus as President Havel’s visit draws closer.


The excellence of Columbia’s faculty is the University’s definitive strength. In recent months, eight of our colleagues were elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in recognition of their extraordinary contributions to scholarship and research:

  • Laurence F. Abbott, professor of physiology and cellular biophysics in the Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics;
  • Floyd Abrams, the William J. Brennan Visiting Professor at the Graduate School of Journalism and a partner at Cahill Gordon & Reindel L.L.P.;
  • Michael Ellis Goldberg, the David Mahoney Professor of Brain and Behavior at the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior;
  • E. Tory Higgins, the Stanley Schachter Professor of Psychology at the Business School;
  • Kenneth T. Jackson, the Jacques Barzun Professor of History and the Social Sciences and director of the Herbert H. Lehman Center for the Study of American History;
  • Arthur Elliott Levine, president of Teachers College;
  • James L. Manley, the Judith Clarence Levi Professor of Life Sciences in the Department of Biological Sciences; and
  • Victor Navasky, the Delacorte Professor of Magazine Journalism at the Graduate School of Journalism and publisher emeritus of The Nation.

Two Columbia professors have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of their achievements in original research: Ann McDermott, professor of chemistry (as if helping build an impressive new science building weren’t enough, Ann seems to be doing just fine in her day-job teaching students and leading her own research group) and Stephen Goff, professor of biochemistry and molecular biophysics and investigator for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. These accomplished faculty members joined with members of our Board of Trustees and alumni leaders last week at a celebratory dinner on campus. Our congratulations to all of our academy fellows, new and old.


Earlier this spring, I announced the hiring of new Executive Vice President for Health and Biomedical Sciences and Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine Lee Goldman, M.D., MPH. Lee will begin his leadership duties at the University on July 3. Also, Michael J. Duncan joins Columbia as executive director for the Columbia Faculty Practice Organization at Columbia University Medical Center as of June 1. He will work with Dr. Goldman and Dr. Richard U. Levine, president of the Columbia Faculty Practice Organization, in further supporting the efficient delivery of the highest quality medical care.

Taken together, the upcoming Columbia campaign, the expansion and increased diversity of an acclaimed faculty, new leadership in key areas of the University, and material progress in solving the University’s long-term needs for academic space all point to Columbia’s building momentum. I hope that everyone feels, as I do, that for all the greatness in our history, we now have plenty of great reasons to look ahead to an extraordinary future.

My best wishes for a safe and enjoyable summer.


Lee C. Bollinger