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Columbia UniversityThe President's Report 2002-2007
Civic Life
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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.

Civic Engagement Starts with CU Students
  • Each year, Columbia Business School students work with elementary and middle school principals on management consulting projects through the Business School’s Education Leadership Consulting Lab. The elective course is offered in partnership with the New York City Leadership Academy, a nonprofit that recruits and trains principals for the city’s approximately 1,300 schools.

  • Each year, students at the School of Social Work do more than 245,000 hours of fieldwork at some 300 sites around the city.

  • Students at the College of Dental Medicine treat patients in Washington Heights through seven area public school programs, three community clinics, and a mobile care unit.

  • Nursing students train at more than fifty sites that care for underserved and vulnerable populations.

  • Law students fulfill their pro bono service requirements through community law partnerships like the Homeless Advocacy Project and the Pediatric Clinic Family Advocacy Project.

  • Nearly 1,000 students volunteer through Community Impact each year, participating in twenty-five different programs reaching more than 8,000 people in the community. Find out more about student community outreach. >

  • Columbia has more than 100 community partnerships in local neighborhoods alone. Read more about these partnerships. >

Governing Diverse Cities
In January 2007, Columbia joined the New York Immigrant Coalition and New York City Global Partners to host mayors and managers from cities around the world to discuss “Governing a Diverse City in a Democratic Society.” Delegates represented twenty-six cities, and panels explored leadership in health, education, and other key services. Mayor Bloomberg gave the keynote address and former Mayor David Dinkins, a professor of public policy at Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs, welcomed participants.

“What’s good for New York’s immigrants is good for New York,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “I believe all cities can prosper by developing strong policies that welcome new immigrants and then integrate them into their urban life.”

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