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It was a Columbia graduate who first proposed that New York’s street grid be divided into 155 streets and twelve avenues; a Columbia alumnus who engineered New York’s subway system; and a Columbia dean who designed the city’s sewer system. Scores of Columbia graduates have served as mayor, City Council members, appointed officials, and civic leaders for more than two and a half centuries. In recent years, the University has continued to expand a wide array of academic, cultural, health care, and other partnerships with organizations in Upper Manhattan, as well as contribute its expertise to local public policy.
Public Schools and Public Education
New York City’s public schools are a special area of focus for Columbia. University affiliate Teachers College is significantly expanding its engagement in Upper Manhattan schools. The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science runs more than twenty math, science, and engineering programs in local schools, in partnership with the Morningside Alliance. Read more about Columbia’s public school programs.>
In 2005, Mayor Bloomberg and President Bollinger announced the University’s collaboration with the city in creating a new public school in Harlem. The Columbia-assisted secondary school for math, science, and engineering opened in September 2007 in a transitional space in Harlem. It will ultimately serve 650 students, grades 6–12, and Columbia will provide land for a permanent home for the school as part of its Manhattanville campus plan. The middle school is exclusively for students from northern Manhattan neighborhoods. Approximately half the total enrollment of the high school grades will be composed of students from Harlem and elsewhere in Upper Manhattan.
Teachers College has a long tradition of working with New York public schools—including supplying a large number of outstanding teachers and administrators over the years. More recently, in October 2007, Teachers College began a collaboration, called Research Partnership for New York City Schools, with City University, New York University, and the New York City Department of Education to intensively study the effects of various policies and practices in the city’s public schools. In December 2007, Teachers College announced that as part of the University’s Manhattanville campus plan agreement with the West Harlem Local Development Corporation, it would partner with the local community and the New York City Department of Education on a K–8 public school.
Faculty Service in City Government
Columbia’s distinguished faculty members have also worked to put ideas into action, serving on numerous governmental committees and advisory groups throughout its history. Recent examples include William B. Eimicke, director of the Picker Center for Executive Education at the School of International and Public Affairs, who is currently on public service leave to serve as deputy commissioner for strategic planning and policy at the New York City Fire Department; and scientists at Columbia’s Earth Institute who are serving as advisors to New York City’s Office of Long-term Planning and Sustainability, providing New York City with scientific research and advice on environmental and climate change issues as part of Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC initiative.