Columbia University

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Columbia University in the City of New York
Columbia University Coat of Arms
Motto In lumine tuo videbimus lumen
(In thy light we shall see light)
Established 1754
School type Private
President Lee Bollinger
Location New York City, New York, USA
Campus Urban, 36 acres (0.15 km²) Morningside Heights Campus, 26 acres (0.1 km²) Baker Field athletic complex, 20 acres (0.09 km²) Medical Center, 157 acres (0.64 km²) Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory
Enrollment 5,530 undergraduate,
14,692 graduate, professional, and medical
Faculty 3,224
Mascot Royal Lion
Endowment $4.5 billion
Official website

Columbia University is a private university in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. It was established in 1754 as King's College and is one of the oldest institutions of higher education in the United States. It is widely regarded as one of the world's most prestigious institutions of higher learning.

The university is a member of the Ivy League. It is legally known as Columbia University in the City of New York, and is incorporated as Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York. Its undergraduate schools are Columbia College and the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS). A third school, the School of General Studies is for students whose undergraduate education was interrupted, and now wish to resume their studies, and students in the Joint Program and Double Degree Program with the Jewish Theological Seminary and Columbia or JTS and Barnard College. The university is affiliated with Barnard College, Union Theological Seminary, Jewish Theological Seminary, and Teachers College.

Shanghai Jiao Tong University's 2005 Academic Ranking of World Universities placed Columbia seventh in the world, making it the second-highest ranked Ivy League university.


Student life

Morningside Campus of Columbia University in the City of New York
Morningside Campus of Columbia University in the City of New York

Columbia has formal educational ties to the Juilliard School of Music, the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, and to Oxford and Cambridge universities in England. It operates Nevis Laboratories in Irvington, New York, the Arden House Conference Center in Harriman, New York, the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, and Reid Hall, an academic facility in Paris. The university's library system is among the world's largest, including more than 12 million volumes.

In addition to its academic ties, the school also maintains relationships with The Metropolitan Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum, The Museum of Natural History and other major museums throughout New York City, allowing students free or discounted access.

As Morningside Heights is bordered by Harlem and the Upper West Side, students have access to a variety of historic institutions in the immediate area, including Grant's Tomb, The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, and several famous jazz clubs and soul food restaurants in the area.


Butler Library (June 2003)
Butler Library (June 2003)

Due to former university president Seth Low's late-19th century vision of a university campus where all disciplines could be taught in one location, most of Columbia's graduate and undergraduate studies are conducted in Morningside Heights. This campus was designed by acclaimed architects McKim, Mead, and White and is considered one of their greater successes.

Curl, by Clement Meadmore

Columbia's main campus occupies six blocks, 32 acres (132,000 m²), in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. Health-related schools are located at the Columbia University Medical Center, about fifty blocks uptown. Columbia also owns the 26 acre Baker Field, which has the facilities for field sports, outdoor track, tennis, and rowing. This makes Columbia, by some accounts, the city's third-largest landowner after the Catholic Church and the City itself, with holdings that include the fifty-story former General Electric Building at 570 Lexington Avenue (not to be confused with the current GE Building in Rockefeller Center). There is a third campus on the west bank of the Hudson River, the 157 acre Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York.

Organizations and athletics

Major publications include the Columbia Daily Spectator, the nation's second oldest student newspaper; CTV, the nation's second oldest student television station; The Fed, an alternative humor paper; the Jester, a now-dormant campus humor magazine established in 1899 and edited at one point by Allen Ginsberg; the Columbia Review, the nation's oldest college literary magazine; the Blue & White, a literary magazine established in 1892; the Collection, an undergraduate literary magazine; and the Journal of Politics & Society, the nation's leading journal of advanced undergraduate research in the social sciences, published by the Helvidius Group. The annual Varsity Show, once led by Rodgers and Hammerstein, is a student produced musical that lampoons Columbia traditions and students, as well as rival colleges. Most recently, Columbia students established an online arts and literary magazine entitled The Mobius Strip.

1899 Columbia Hockey Team
1899 Columbia Hockey Team

While Columbia is no longer an athletics powerhouse, sports at Columbia have a long tradition. Crew was Columbia's first sport. The Columbia football team is one of the nation's oldest and won the Rose Bowl in 1934. Its wrestling team is the nation's oldest. Due to space constraints, most of Columbia's outdoor athletic teams practice and compete uptown at Baker Field in Inwood, Manhattan. Some of the rowing teams use the Orchard Beach Lagoon as their home course. Home meets for cross country running are held at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.

Columbia has been home to some famous athletes - Lou Gehrig played baseball while he was a student at Columbia and Sid Luckman played football. Columbia's fencing team in the late 20th century was one of the nation's most successful, with NCAA team championships in 1987, 1988, 1989, 1992 and 1993. In recent years, the women's cross country team has held the Heptagonal Championship title. In 2004, both the men's and women's teams won the race.

The university's recent notoriety in sports, however, lies with its football team which set an NCAA record of most consecutive football games without a win. After a losing 44 games, it broke the streak by beating Princeton at Columbia's homecoming game in 1988.

Yet, Columbia is among the top 20 universities in terms of its number of NCAA Division I varsity sports offerings.

For a listing of organizations, see the article Clubs and Organizations of Columbia University.


Founded as King's College in 1754 under a royal charter granted by England's King George II, Columbia is the oldest institution of higher education in the state of New York and the sixth-oldest in the United States. Columbia has grown over time to comprise twenty schools and affiliated institutions.

Controversy surrounded the founding of the new college in New York, as it was a thoroughly Anglican institution dominated by the influence of Crown officials in its governing body such as the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Crown Secretary for Plantations and Colonies. The fears of an Anglican episcopacy and Crown influence in America through King's College were confirmed by its vast wealth, far surpassing all other colonial colleges of the period. Until the American Revolution, King's College would remain a bastion of Loyalists. On the other hand, the College would produce the leading men of the Revolutionary generation.

Park Place and Rockefeller Center

In July 1754, Samuel Johnson (1696-1772; not to be confused with his near-contemporary Dr. Johnson, the British lexicographer, 1709-1784) held the first classes in a new school house adjoining Trinity Church, Wall Street, located on what is now lower Broadway in Manhattan. There were eight students in the class. In 1767 King's College established the first American medical school to grant the MD degree.

The American Revolutionary War brought the growth of the College to a halt, forcing a suspension of instruction in 1776 that lasted for eight years. Among the earliest students and trustees of King's College were John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the United States; Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury; Gouverneur Morris, the author of the final draft of the United States Constitution; and Robert R. Livingston, a member of the five-man committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence. In 1784, the college reopened as Columbia College, reflecting the patriotic fervor which had inspired the nation's quest for independence.

King's College Hall, 1770
King's College Hall, 1770

In 1849, the College moved from Park Place, near the present site of City Hall, to 49th Street and Madison Avenue, where it remained for the next fifty years. During the last half of the nineteenth century, Columbia rapidly assumed the shape of a modern university. Columbia Law School was founded in 1858, and the country's first mining school, a precursor of today's Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, was established in 1864. Barnard College for women became affiliated with Columbia in 1889; the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons came under the aegis of the University in 1891, followed by Teachers College in 1893.

The development of the Graduate Faculties in Political Science, Philosophy, and Pure Science established Columbia as one of the nation's earliest centers for graduate education. By the close of the nineteenth century, Columbia was the world's leading producer of academic doctorates and was universally recognized as America's top research university.

Morningside Heights

In 1896, the trustees officially authorized the use of yet another new name, Columbia University, and today the institution is officially known as "Columbia University in the City of New York." At the same time the campus was moved again from 49th Street to a more spacious campus in the Morningside Heights area of Manhattan.

View of Columbia University's Low Library Plaza, c1900
View of Columbia University's Low Library Plaza, c1900

University president Seth Low moved Columbia out of the area that was to become Rockefeller Center to its present location in Morningside Heights.

Under the leadership of Low's successor, Nicholas Murray Butler, Columbia rapidly became the nation's major institution for research, setting the "multiversity" model that later universities would adopt. On the Morningside Heights campus, Columbia centralized on a single campus the College, the School of Law, the Graduate Faculties, the School of Mines (predecessor of the Engineering School), and the College of Physicians & Surgeons. Butler went on to serve as president of Columbia for over four decades and became a giant in American public life (as one-time vice presidential candidate and a Nobel Laureate). His introduction of "downtown" business practices in university administration led to innovations in internal reforms such as the centralization of academic affairs, the direct appointment of registrars, deans, provosts, and secretaries, as well as the formation of a professionalzed university bureaucracy, unprecedented among American universities at the time.

In 1902, New York newspaper magnate Joseph Pulitzer donated a substantial sum to the University for the founding of a school to teach journalism. The result was the 1912 opening of the Graduate School of Journalism-- the only journalism school in the Ivy League. The school is the administrator of the Pulitzer Prize and the duPont-Columbia Award in broadcast journalism.

Interior of St. Paul's Chapel, designed by I.N. Phelps-Stokes at Columbia University
Interior of St. Paul's Chapel, designed by I.N. Phelps-Stokes at Columbia University

Columbia Business School was added in the early 20th century. During the first half of the 20th Century Columbia and Harvard had the largest endowments in the country.

By the late 1930s, a Columbia student could study with the likes of Jacques Barzun, Paul Lazarsfeld, Mark Van Doren, Lionel Trilling, and I. I. Rabi. The University's graduates during this time were equally accomplished - for example, two alumni of Columbia's Law School, Charles Evans Hughes and Harlan Fiske Stone (who also held the position of Law School dean), served successively as Chief Justices of the United States. In the '50s, Dwight Eisenhower served as Columbia's president before becoming the President of the United States.

Research into the atom by faculty members I. I. Rabi, Enrico Fermi and Polykarp Kusch placed Columbia's Physics Department in the international spotlight in the 1940s after the first nuclear pile was built to start what would become the Manhattan Project.

In 1893 the Columbia University Press was founded in order to "promote the study of economic, historical, literary, scientific and other subjects; and to promote and encourage the publication of literary works embodying original research in such subjects." Among its publications are The Columbia Encyclopedia, first published in 1935, and The Columbia Lippincott Gazetteer of the World, first published in 1952.

Student demonstrations

Students protested in 1968 over the issue of whether Columbia would build its gymnasium in neighboring Morningside Park; this was seen by the protestors to be an act of aggression aimed at the Black residents of neighboring Harlem. For several days, students took over administration buildings, occupied classrooms, and demonstrated against the Columbia ROTC detachment. The protests came to a conclusion when the NYPD violently quashed the demonstrations. The episode is generally seen as marking the point where the student body's and administration's values appeared to diverge most sharply. Columbia ended up scrapping the plans for the controversial gym and built a subterranean physical fitness center under the north end of campus instead; this facility is in use today.

Graduate Employee Unionization

In the Fall of 2000, a group of graduate teaching assistants, upset over conditions, decided to form a union, Graduate Student Employees United. They affiliated with UAW Local 2110. These workers expressed outrage over low wages, inadequate health care, inconsistent duties, and lack of voice in their workplace. By March 2001 a majority of teaching assistants at Columbia had signed cards calling for union recognition. Following months of opposition by Columbia administrators, the National Labor Relations Board granted teaching and research assistants a federally supervised election on the question of unionization. Immediately following this election, the university administration appealed, causing the ballots to be impounded. In July 2004, the NLRB reversed earlier precedent and ruled that graduate employees do not have a right to form unions under federal labor law. Consequently, the uncounted ballots have been destroyed.

Pro-union graduate employees have sought to pressure Columbia's administration to recognize their union in other ways. They have struck their work three times. In April 2002, they held a one-day strike calling for the NLRB-supervised election ballots to be counted. In April 2004, an indefinite strike lasted four weeks and disrupted numerous classes and finals at Columbia. In April 2005, a one week strike led to a small number of class cancellations and disruptions, with students and faculty largely divided on the validity of the union's accusations of unfair treatment.

Employment and Land Ownership

Due to its connections with various state agencies and many affiliated institutions along with Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, it is by some estimates, the largest employer in New York City. Taken by itself, without its affiliated institutions, it is at most the third-largest employer (the University's own estimate) and at a minimum, the twelfth-largest. Its status as a large landowner and employer has been established since the late 1950s. Due to the large numbers of employees, along with its pervasive status as a landowner, the University has been viewed by some, particularly in the community that surrounds it, as a corporate entity rather than a not-for-profit educational institution. This in turn has caused a divide between the University and those in the surrounding area, resulting in continued resistance to the University's expansion.

Columbia Alliance with London School of Economics

Columbia recently formalized a major institutional alliance with the London School of Economics, or the LSE, which has been burgeoning for years. The alliance developed as a result of the good working relationship between the two institutions built up through their partnership in establishing Fathom, a centre for online knowledge and learning from the world's leading universities, libraries, museums and research institutes. Columbia Business School and LSE are also collaborators in, a privately held company dedicated to the development and delivery of business education and training via the Internet.

So far, the alliance has achieved three joint Masters degree programs in public policy and environmental studies, including a Master of Public Administration, a Master of Public Policy, and Master of Science, two joint law degree programs, a joint Master of Laws (LLM) and Bachelor of Laws (LLB), at least five joint research projects, one joint research centre, and an endowment through joint fundraising to provide scholarships for students to enroll or participate in the research performed by the Columbia-LSE affiliation.

Awards and honors

Until 2005, 73 Columbians have been honored with Nobel Prizes for their work in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, peace, and economics. For a complete list, see[1]

Other awards won by current and former faculty include:

Schools and enrollment

As of autumn of 2003, there were 23,650 persons enrolled at Columbia University, not including students at affiliates (e.g. Barnard). This total is broken down as follows.

5,530 students were enrolled in undergraduate programs:

5,964 were enrolled in graduate programs:

  • School of the Arts: 762
  • Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
    • Enrollment includes approximately 142 students studying in order to receive liberal studies M.A. degrees, and another 3,846 studients studying either to receive doctorate or masters degrees.
  • School of International and Public Affairs: 1,214

(See also Union Theological Seminary, Teachers College)

6,324 were in professional programs:

2,565 were enrolled in programs at Health Sciences:

  • College of Physicians and Surgeons
    • Medicine: 634
    • Institute of Human Nutrition: 32
    • Occupational Therapy: 122
    • Psych. Training & Research: 31
    • Physical Therapy: 75
  • School of Nursing: 357
  • Mailman School of Public Health: 738
  • School of Dental and Oral Surgery
    • Dental and Oral Surgery: 330
    • Graduate Dental: 84

1,845 were enrolled in the following special programs:

  • American Language Program: 448
  • Berlin Consortium: 4
  • Biosphere 2: 37
  • Reid Hall: 22
  • School of Continuing Education: 1,334


1754 Royal Charter establishes King's College under King George II of England.

1784 Renamed Columbia College by New York State Legislature.

1810 Final revisions are made to the Charter under which the University operates today.

1849 College moves from Park Place, near present City Hall, to 49th and Madison.

1864 Formal establishment of the Columbia College School of Mines.

1889 Barnard College founded as Columbia's sister school, to provide an education for women.

1896 Trustees formally designate Columbia as a university.

1897 The University moves from 49th and Madison to its present site in Morningside Heights.

1928 Opening of the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, the first such center to combine teaching, research, and patient care.

1947 Nevis Laboratories was founded in Irvington, New York, offering facilities for experimental physics research.

1949 The Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, a research center dedicated to understanding planet Earth, opened in Palisades, New York.

1954 Columbia's Bicentennial Celebration.

1955 Columbia's FBH Hall opens.

1983 The first Columbia College class to include women arrives on campus in September. After extensive negotiations, Barnard College chooses to remain largely independent under an affiliation agreement that remains in effect today.

from [2004 Facts]

In film, television and the arts

Movies featuring scenes shot on Morningside campus include:

Movies or shows with significant portrayals of Columbia alumni or students:

Currently shooting on or around the University's campus:

See also

External links

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