Office of the President, Lee C. Bollinger

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak Named Newest University Professor

March 9, 2007

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

Alan Brinkley and I are very pleased to announce the appointment of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak--Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities and director of the Center for Comparative Literature and Society--as University Professor, the institution's highest faculty rank. This appointment--approved by the Trustees at their March meeting, and effective on July 1--recognizes exceptional scholarly merit and distinguished service to Columbia.

It is fitting that Professor Spivak will now serve the University as a whole rather than a specific faculty or department. Not only does her world-renowned scholarship--grounded in deconstructivist literary theory--range widely from critiques of post-colonial discourse to feminism, Marxism, and globalization; her lifelong search for fresh insights and understanding has transcended the traditional boundaries of discipline while retaining the fire for new knowledge that is the hallmark of a great intellect. Ever mindful of language's importance to breaking down divisive cultural barriers, she has even enrolled in undergraduate Arabic, Cantonese, and Mandarin courses while teaching her regular courses here.

Professor Spivak's commitment to interdisciplinary scholarship, at the most creative levels, and a life of civic engagement--including in her native India--embodies Columbia's mission of teaching, scholarship, and service to the broader world community. Through her new role as University Professor, I hope and expect more students will be able to experience her imaginative mind and spirit.

It is especially appropriate, therefore, that Professor Spivak will deliver the University Lecture, "Thinking about the Humanities," on Wednesday evening, March 21, in Low Memorial Library Rotunda. We hope you will join us in congratulating Professor Spivak on her appointment to this signal honor at Columbia.


Lee C. Bollinger