Office of the President, Lee C. Bollinger

Announcement Regarding Gregory Mosher of the Arts Initiative

September 30, 2010

Dear members of the Columbia community:

After more than six years leading the Arts Initiative at Columbia University as its founding director, Gregory Mosher will turn his creative energies to his celebrated work in the theater and his continuing role as a Professor of Professional Practice at our School of the Arts this fall.  This transition marks a moment to recognize the success he has had in translating an ambitious vision for the Arts Initiative into a multi-layered program serving thousands in the Columbia community and many others beyond our campus.

At the time I announced the Arts Initiative in 2004, it was a novel venture to integrate the arts into the intellectual and social life of the University and to contribute to the artistic creativity in the broader world.  Today, for many Columbians, the Arts Initiative has become an indispensable part of university life, one we could scarcely imagine making do without, and one that has been emulated by several of our peer institutions.

For many in the Columbia community, the Arts Initiative is best known as the bridge between the University and New York City’s vast world of arts and culture.  From the Passport Program which makes it possible for students to visit over 30 different New York City museums free of charge, to the Arts Initiative’s Ticket and Information Center offering discounted tickets, to the Columbia Alumni Arts League, the Arts Initiative enhances and sustains our creative community, both artistically and intellectually.

The Arts Initiative’s boldest achievement may well be the integration of the arts into campus life as part of Columbia’s interdisciplinary approach to making sense of complex global problems.  The value of this approach was confirmed in striking fashion in 2005, when 24 performances of Peter Brook’s Tierno Bokar staged in the gymnasium of Barnard College were combined with 43 events on issues of religious tolerance.  The following year, the Arts Initiative was instrumental in establishing the Columbia residency for former president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel, which resulted in dozens of symposia and performances on the themes of art, freedom, and democratic citizenship.

Gregory’s extraordinary efforts to imagine and establish the Arts Initiative at Columbia leave us well positioned to ensure that the entire spectrum of university life continues to be enriched by the arts.   We are delighted that Columbia students and faculty will continue to benefit from Gregory teaching at the School of the Arts.  I will be working with Carol Becker, Dean of the School of the Arts, to find the new head of the Initiative that will ensure our commitment to maintaining the university-wide role of the Initiative.  For now, join me in thanking Gregory for his service to Columbia.


Lee C. Bollinger