Columbia University is the seventh largest nongovernmental employer in the City of New York. Like many such major research universities, it is an institution whose diverse schools and centers have historically operated with a high level of independence. This is a source of intellectual strength, but also of managerial challenge in an era that rightly demands fiscal accountability, effective institutional leadership, and an increasing commitment to collaborative, interdisciplinary teaching and research.
Distinguished historian Alan Brinkley was appointed provost in 2003. An eminent scholar of twentieth-century United States history who has also followed Columbia’s long tradition of public intellectuals by frequently writing for non-academic audiences, he served as chair of the Department of History from 2000 to 2003.
Recognizing that the administrative challenges of research funding and management are faced by departments throughout the University, President Bollinger named eminent microbiologist David Hirsh to the position of executive vice president for research in 2003 to oversee many issues involving research, especially in the sciences and social sciences. These include matters of compliance, facilitating external funding opportunities, and helping establish University-level policies with respect to research.
Senior Executive Vice President Robert Kasdin assumed command of University finances in July 2003 and instituted a number of changes in management and technology to maximize the use of Columbia’s growing fiscal resources. The position of University Treasurer was also created.
Columbia long lagged behind peers in building strong, enduring relationships with its vast and diverse alumni. Since the appointment of Susan Feagin to the newly created post of executive vice president for University Development and Alumni Relations in 2003, Columbia has reestablished the organizational structures needed to build loyalty, camaraderie, and support among its alumni.
The Arts and Sciences remain at the core of Columbia’s intellectual mission, including undergraduate education and PhD programs. Nicholas Dirks, chair of the Department of Anthropology, became vice president of Arts & Sciences in September 2004.
The University’s mission is carried out by some 14,000 faculty and full-time staff members, each with unique skills, professional experiences, and personal responsibilities in their lives. In order to attract and retain the most talented people, it is essential to ensure that Columbia provides a productive, supportive, and fulfilling workplace for both academic and administrative endeavors. In recent years, the University’s Human Resources division has met this challenge through a range of new efforts, including the establishment of an Office of Work-Life Balance, improvements in online self-service functions for employment tasks, a new customer service line for benefits information, and the introduction of financial planning services for staff and retirees.