Introduction Organization and Governance of the University Officers of Instruction Officers of Research Benefits and Family Services
Obligations and Responsibilities of Officers of Instruction and Research Student Officers of Instruction and Research Visiting Scholars/Scientists and Seminar Associates
University Libraries and Information Services University Resources and Services Appendices


Equal Opportunity and Nondiscrimination Policies

Columbia University seeks to have a faculty and staff that are not only talented but also diverse. It is committed to making employment decisions solely on the basis of individual merit and to removing any barriers that may limit the opportunities for employment and advancement of qualified members of underrepresented groups. The University does not discriminate against or permit harassment of employees or applicants for employment on the basis of race, color, sex, gender (including gender expression and identity), pregnancy, religion, creed, national origin, age, alienage and citizenship, status as a perceived or actual victim of domestic violence, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, military status, partnership status, genetic predisposition or carrier status, arrest record, or any other legally protected status. The University’s statement on Employment Policies and Procedures on Discrimination and Harassment is reprinted as Appendix A of this Handbook, and is available at:

Columbia implemented its first Affirmative Action Plan in 1972. Since then, the University has annually updated its Plan on the basis of assessments it conducts of its performance as an equal opportunity employer. While the University’s Affirmative Action Plan has been established to comply with the University’s obligations under federal, state, and local laws, it also reflects an institutional commitment to equality of opportunity and a recognition that the University’s dual mission of education and research is enhanced by policies promoting diversity, fairness, and respect for all. Copies of the Plan are distributed to all departments; additional copies may be obtained from the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action.

Last Revised February 2012


Brief History of Columbia University

Columbia University is the oldest institution of higher education in the State of New York and the fifth oldest in the United States. It was established under a royal charter from George II in 1754 as King’s College for the purpose of providing “for the Instruction and Education of Youth in the Learned Languages and the Liberal Arts and Sciences.” In 1767 the College also opened the first medical school in the country to grant the M.D. degree.

The College started with a class of eight students in a schoolhouse next to Trinity Church in lower Manhattan. From these modest beginnings, it established an influential presence in colonial New York society as the educator of the children of many of the City’s leading families. Among the early students were several men destined to play prominent roles in the founding of the United States, including Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, Robert Livingston, and Gouverneur Morris.

The American Revolution temporarily interrupted the work of the College. Instruction was suspended in 1776, with the Continental and British armies using its buildings in turn. In 1784 the College was reopened under an act of the New York State Legislature that changed its name to Columbia College and designated it a part of a state university. Three years later the legislature repealed the 1784 act and restored the original charter with amendments that created the system of a self-perpetuating board of trustees that has continued to the present. Over the next two decades, the charter underwent a series of further revisions, the last of which occurred in 1810. The University operates today under that amended charter.

During its first century, Columbia remained a small undergraduate college with limited enrollments drawn almost entirely from New York City’s more prosperous Episcopalian families and a fixed curriculum that emphasized Greek and Latin. Other than the early attempt at creating a medical school, which ended unsuccessfully in 1813, it did not diversify the education it offered or expand its enrollments until the 1850s.

Columbia’s character began to change with the opening of a Law School in 1858 and a School of Mines in 1864, both of which quickly surpassed the College in enrollments. Over the next half century, Columbia evolved into a research university. A pioneer in doctoral education, the University first offered instruction leading to the Doctor of Philosophy degree in the 1870s and, with the subsequent establishment of the Faculties of Political Science, Philosophy, and Natural Science, became one of the leading centers of Ph.D. education in the country. The College of Physicians and Surgeons, an independent entity that had absorbed the medical faculty of the College early in the century, was integrated into Columbia as its medical school, and other professional schools were opened as well. The University’s total enrollments grew from less than 100 in 1850 to more than 12,000 by the start of World War I, and the faculty expanded from 15 to over 900. In 1896 the Trustees formally designated Columbia a university, and in 1912 the name was legally changed to “The Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York” by order of the Supreme Court of New York State.

Columbia was located in downtown Manhattan, near the present site of City Hall, until 1857, when it was moved to Forty-ninth Street and Madison Avenue. The new quarters were supposed to be temporary, until the College could build a permanent campus on land deeded to it by the state in 1816 and now occupied by Rockefeller Center. Instead, it remained on Madison Avenue for the next forty years, during which time it grew in size and complexity while the city developed around it. In need of more space, Columbia, with the exception of its medical school, moved in 1897 to Morningside Heights, where it took up residence on a campus designed by the architectural firm of McKim, Mead, and White.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons similarly migrated north to accommodate the needs of its expanding programs and services. Originally located in lower Manhattan, it moved to facilities near Union Square in the 1850s and then to two different locations in mid-Manhattan over the next 30 years. In 1928, it settled in its current location in Washington Heights, creating the country’s first academic medical center in alliance with the Presbyterian Hospital (now the New York-Presbyterian Hospital).

After moving to Morningside Heights, the University rapidly grew in size and emerged as a national leader in education and research. It also entered into affiliation agreements with various educational institutions and hospitals, the earliest of which was signed with Teachers College in 1898. Under these agreements, the affiliates and the University conduct joint programs and share certain facilities, but the affiliates continue to be governed by their own trustees and retain responsibility for their own finances, endowments, and buildings. Some agreements also provide that the faculty of the affiliates have University titles and that their graduates receive Columbia degrees.

The relationship with Barnard College, which dates back to 1900, is particularly close. The current affiliation agreement, signed in 1973 and last amended in 2007, provides for close cooperation to enhance the quality of undergraduate education through common access to course offerings and faculty and the joint use of the facilities of the two institutions. These arrangements are designed to promote their integration without assimilation and ensure comparable academic standards for students and faculty.

Last Revised November 2008


Chronology of the University and Its Divisions

1754 King’s College founded; 1784, name changed to Columbia College
School of Medicine established; 1813, merged with College of Physicians and Surgeons; 1814, disaffiliated; 1860, informal reaffiliation; 1891, College of Physicians and Surgeons became the medical department
1857 Columbia College moved to Forty-ninth Street and Madison Avenue
1858 School of Law established
1864 School of Mines established; 1896, became School of Mines, Engineering, and Chemistry; 1926, renamed School of Engineering; 1961, became School of Engineering and Applied Science; since 1997, The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science
1880 Faculty of Political Science established, followed by Faculty of Philosophy in 1890, and Faculty of Pure Science in 1892; 1979, merged as the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
1887 School of Library Economy founded; 1889, disaffiliated and transferred to State Library in Albany as New York State Library School; 1926, merged with Library School of New York Public Library and reintegrated into the University as School of Library Service; 1993, closed
1896 School of Architecture established; 1973, renamed Graduate School of Architecture and Planning; since 1986, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
1896 Trustees changed the name of the College to Columbia University
1897 University moved to Morningside Heights
1898 Affiliation agreement with Teachers College incorporated it into the University
1900 Affiliation agreement with Barnard College incorporated it into the University
1900 Affiliation agreement with Roosevelt Hospital; 1947, affiliation agreement with St. Luke’s Hospital; 1979, merged to form St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center
1904 Extension Teaching established; 1921, renamed University Extension; since 1947, School of General Studies
1906 School of Fine Arts established; 1914, dissolved; 1948, Schools of Dramatic Arts and of Painting and Sculpture established; 1958, became Program in the Arts; since 1965, School of the Arts
1912 University title ratified by the State of New York
1912 School of Journalism established; 1935, became Graduate School of Journalism
1916 School of Business established; 1949, became Graduate School of Business
1917 School of Dental and Oral Surgery established; 1923, New York College of Dental and Oral Surgery merged with the School; 2006, renamed College of Dental Medicine
1921 Institute of Public Health established; 1926, renamed DeLamar Institute of Public Health of the College of Physicians and Surgeons; 1945, became School of Public Health and Administrative Medicine; 1972, renamed School of Public Health; 1998, renamed the Mailman School of Public Health
1921 Permanent affiliation agreement with Presbyterian Hospital; with merger with the New York Hospital in 1998, became the New York-Presbyterian Hospital
1924 Affiliation agreement with the New York State Psychiatric Institute
1928 College of Physicians and Surgeons moved from Tenth Avenue between Fifty-ninth and Sixtieth Streets to Washington Heights with the opening of the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center
1928 Affiliation agreement with Union Theological Seminary
1937 School of Nursing of Presbyterian Hospital incorporated into the University as Department of Nursing of the Faculty of Medicine; 1974, became School of Nursing
1940 Affiliation agreement with New York School of Social Work (founded in 1898 as the Summer School in Philanthropic Work); 1959, incorporated into the University; 1963, renamed Columbia University School of Social Work
1946 School of International Affairs established; 1981, renamed School of International and Public Affairs
1947 Affiliation agreement with Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital (Cooperstown, New York)
1966 Affiliation agreement with New York State Rehabilitation Hospital (West Haverstraw, New York); 1974, renamed Helen Hayes Hospital
1967 Affiliation agreement with Harlem Hospital Center
1992 Faculty of Arts and Sciences established
1998 Affiliation agreement with Stamford Hospital (Stamford, Connecticut)
2000 Faculty of Health Sciences established
2002 School of Continuing Education established


Last Revised November 2008


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