CU Home | President's Site | President's Report Home
Columbia UniversityThe President's Report 2002-2007
Diversity Initiatives
In 2004, the University created the Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity Initiatives, charged with the mission of increasing the diversity of faculty, administrators, and research officers, with special emphasis on identifying, hiring, and retaining members of groups historically under-represented in American higher education. The vice provost also works to create policies and programs that enhance the quality of work life and work-life balance of all members of the campus community.

Funding for the Initiative
In 2005, the University Trustees unanimously approved a commitment of $15 million for a recruitment campaign to attract outstanding minority and female scholars to the Arts and Sciences faculty. The funds are intended to:

  • change the process and culture surrounding faculty searches, retention, and promotion by more successfully identifying and recruiting outstanding scholars from historically under-represented groups

  • address the work-life issues of an increasingly diverse faculty (see box at right) and the dearth of women and minority faculty in natural sciences and engineering

  • encourage further discussion at the University of this critical need

Office of the Vice Provost
Professor Jean E. Howard was appointed the first vice provost for Diversity Initiatives and served through June 2007. Professor Geraldine Downey, chair of the psychology department, succeeded Howard in July 2007. During the past three years, the initiative has supported the hiring of nearly two dozen scholars from historically under-represented groups.

Hiring and Recruitment: In 2007, the Luce Foundation awarded a Luce Professorship to Columbia to support the advancement of women scientists on the faculty.

Faculty Development: The office conducted focus groups that yielded insights on how the University could improve the support it gives faculty before tenure. The office also conducted workshops for untenured faculty in an effort to increase the transparency of the tenure process at Columbia. As a result of the $2 million diversity initiative for the professional schools at Columbia, twenty junior faculty and seven visiting fellows received support in 2006-2007.

Pipeline Development: As part of the effort to expand the pipeline of minority scholars in science and engineering, Vice Provost Downey is developing a Bridge to PhD program, which will bring post-baccalaureate students from historically under-represented groups into the Columbia research community as full-time research assistants.

Presidential Lectures: President Bollinger has increased awareness of diversity as an institutional priority by hosting public lectures with other university leaders, such as Shirley Tilghman, president of Princeton University, and Charles Vest, president emeritus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to discuss their experiences implementing diversity initiatives.


Geraldine Downey,
Vice Provost for Diversity Initiatives
Work/Life Balance
For faculty, an effective dual-career spouse/partner program and affordable child care have a strong impact on career decisions. The vice provost for diversity initiatives has conducted research that shows the lack of such programs often hinders efforts to attract and retain a more diverse group of faculty.

In order to strengthen existing programs in this area, and to develop new initiatives, Carol Hoffman was hired as Columbia’s first associate provost and director of Work-Life in 2007. Initiatives under the new office’s purview include:

  • expanding existing child care facilities, partnering with new child care centers, and instituting child care subsidies

  • implementing the subsidized Back-up Care program, which helps faculty and staff care for the children and adults in their lives

  • starting a dual-career initiative to address the relocation challenges of newly recruited faculty and their spouses or partners

  • developing a Work-Life Web site that will include Columbia’s policies, benefits, services, and programs


CU Home | © 2008 Columbia University | Webmaster