Columbia College Launches Core to Commencement Campaign

The $400 million Core to Commencement campaign - the first-ever fundraising and engagement campaign dedicated exclusively to Columbia College - will enhance undergraduate liberal arts education and support students and faculty. Read the Q&A from campaign co-chair Jonathan Lavine '88CC on the new campaign website.

Columbia College has launched a $400 million fundraising and engagement campaign to enhance its undergraduate liberal arts education and support students and faculty. The campaign, “Core to Commencement,” is the first-ever fundraising and engagement campaign to be dedicated exclusively to Columbia College.

The campaign paints a comprehensive vision for the future of Columbia College, which is centered in its Core Curriculum, a set of liberal arts courses in which students encounter great works of literature, art, music, political theory and science, and consider the most difficult questions about the human experience in small seminars. The campaign seeks to endow the Core, which has been required of all undergraduates for nearly 100 years, and to bring the Core into its next century using innovative technologies and interdisciplinary programming.

“For generations of students, the Core Curriculum has been a cherished part of the Columbia experience because it fulfills the fundamental promise made to those who come here to learn, explore and grow,” said Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger. “This campaign, with its focus on the Core and the faculty who teach it, will strengthen our ability to pursue the mission of the College and, indeed, the entire University.”

The campaign also seeks to provide teaching fellowships, to increase the number of endowed professorships as a means of attracting and honoring the best faculty, and to support the departments that make the Core possible. Another goal is to offer all students at least one funded summer internship, research fellowship or global experience to apply lessons learned in the classroom and further ensure success after graduation.

In addition, the campaign will reinforce the Columbia College Fund, the College’s essential ongoing source for assuring its institutional excellence, and will strengthen connections among students, parents, faculty and alumni.

“I often say that Columbia College is the greatest college in the greatest university in the greatest city in the world,” said James J. Valentini, dean of Columbia College and vice president for undergraduate education. “The Core to Commencement campaign is a commitment to sustaining this greatness for our students and the faculty who teach them. I am excited about this endeavor, which will ensure the future vitality of the Core Curriculum, the formative experience shared by all students and alumni of the College, while also expanding our students’ experience and strengthening the academic departments that make it all possible.”

The campaign was publicly launched with a special event in Low Library on Friday, November 20, featuring Tony Kushner CC’78, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of “Angels in America,” in conversation with Lisa Carnoy CC’89, a University Trustee and a co-chair of the campaign.

In 2013, Columbia University completed a $6.1 billion capital campaign, the largest campaign in Ivy League history, which raised more than $980 million to support undergraduates in Columbia College and the School of General Studies and the faculty who teach them, with a focus on enhancing the endowments for financial aid, student life and faculty.

“This is Columbia College’s moment,” said Alexander Navab CC’87, the chair of the Columbia College Board of Visitors and a co-chair of the campaign. “Columbia College continues to attract top students and faculty, to rank with the best institutions in the world. The College is part of a great University, renewed by the Columbia Campaign, a network of global centers and our new campus in Manhattanville. Our global profile is rising, with faculty and students winning international awards and propelling scholarship around the world. And our alumni engagement and support is accelerating.”

“Columbia is an extraordinary institution that is experiencing momentum on so many fronts,” added Jonathan Schiller CC’69, LAW’74, chair of the University Board of Trustees. “Our potential is unmatched, and we cannot pause in our collective effort to realize our potential and prepare this great College for the future.”

Core to Commencement is led by campaign co-chairs Navab, Carnoy and Jonathan Lavine CC’88 and is scheduled to run through the centennial of the Core in 2019. To date, the campaign has raised more than $170 million.

“This is an extraordinary time for Columbia College,” said Lavine, who is also a University Trustee. “I knew Columbia was different from the moment I stepped foot on campus, and I am honored to be a part of this campaign, which will have such an important impact on the College for the next one hundred years.”

 “This campaign represents a tremendous opportunity for the future,” Carnoy added. “Core to Commencement will be a driving force to help us continue to offer the amazing education for which we are all so grateful.”

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Edward Schaefer

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