Welcome Back,   Students!


Sons and Daughters

Ernie Holsendolph '58
Robert M. Rosencrans   '49
James P. Rubin '82
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WELCOME, ’04: The first College class to number over 1,000 has arrived on campus, and if there were concerns that increasing the class size (albeit only by about 50 students) might result in a diluted talent pool, those have been laid to rest. Admissions officers had more students than ever to choose from, and the resulting group of matriculants has the highest mean SAT scores in school history.

A record 13,464 applications were received for the Class of ’04, up 3.5 percent from a year ago and 55 percent since 1995. Of these, 12.99 percent were admitted — down from 13.6 percent last year and the first time Columbia’s admit rate has inched below 13 percent.

Of those 1,749 accepted students, 1,015 promised to register — a yield rate of 58 percent, up from 55 percent a year ago and an indication that the College is increasingly a school of choice. Those 1,015 matriculants (the exact number of class members was not available when this issue went to press in August) had a mean SAT verbal score of 701.3 and a mean SAT math score of 696.6. The mean combined SAT score of 1,398 was up a tick from last year’s 1,394, and up significantly from 1,303 five years ago.

Columbia received 1,331 applications for early decision, up 15 percent from a year ago and up 74 percent from 1996 — an indication that the College is not just a school of choice, but a school of first choice.

And if you were wondering whether applying for early decision (and making the commitment to attend if accepted) increases a student’s chances for admission, consider that the College admitted 474 early decision candidates, 35.6 percent of all early decision applicants — nearly triple the total admit rate, and more than triple the admit rate of “regular” applicants.

SUMMER OF STARS: Warm summer evenings under dark, starry skies were available to College students in a five-week, five-credit summer astronomy program offered at the University’s Biosphere 2 Center near Tucson, Ariz. Summer of Stars was an intensive immersion course in astronomy designed for the adventurous liberal arts major looking for a serious introduction to the field.

Last fall, astronomy enthusiasts like Madeline Reed ’00, Kate Grossman ’01 and Chelsea Ward ’00 headed to southern Arizona for the “night life” at Biosphere 2 Center for the Universe Semester. The very dark, very clear night skies are even harder to resist during the summer months. “You can’t even see the Milky Way in New York,” one student said.

The centerpiece of the astronomy program is the new Biosphere 2 Observatory, with its 24-inch reflecting telescope. Dedicated last fall, the observatory provides students with research quality equipment to study astronomy. “Putting your hands on a telescope, learning it, using it on a nightly basis — that’s what makes astronomy real to a student,” said astronomy professor David Helfand.

The Summer of Stars program took advantage of southern Arizona’s status as a premier center for astronomical observation. Guest lectures featured world class astronomers, while field trips took students to the nearby Kitt Peak National Observatory and the famed Mirror Lab at the University of Arizona, where some of the most technologically advanced telescope mirrors in the world are produced.

Since 1996, approximately 650 undergraduate students have participated in the interdisciplinary, hands-on learning experiences offered at Biosphere 2.

Kendra Crook ’95

FUND RISES: For the third year in a row, the Columbia College Fund posted record contributions. Thanks to the generosity of alumni, parents, students and friends of the College, more than $7.5 million in unrestricted gifts was received, an increase of more than 7 percent over last year’s $7 million. An additional $20 million in gifts were received for capital purposes at the College, chiefly scholarship endowments and gifts for new and renovated facilities, bringing total contributions to about $28 million.

The College Fund Committee, working in conjunction with the development staff in the alumni office, was led for the second year by chairman Robert Berne ’60, with six vice chairs supporting his efforts: Abby Black-Elbaum ’92, Steve Jacobs ’75, Conrad Lung ’72, Evan Ratner ’85, Larry Rubinstein ’60 and Steve Schwartz ’70.

One highlight was the record participation by the Class of 2000, with more than 20 percent of graduating seniors choosing to support the College Fund. Young alumni giving also was stimulated by last year’s launch of the Hamilton Associates honor society for young alumni/senior class donors.

Gifts to the Fund allow Dean Austin Quigley and his staff to pursue initiatives to improve the services and resources offered to students of the College. Unrestricted gifts are those which give the dean the most flexibility to use where he sees the need, providing current and immediately usable funds for the College’s many programs, including financial aid and student services.

WE’RE NO. 1: A recent article in The New York Times looked at the way universities are trying to turn more of their intellectual capital into financial capital and reported that Columbia leads the nation in income from patents and royalties — nearly $100 million last year, more than $144 million this year. Columbia Provost Jonathan Cole ‘64 was quoted as saying it was possible to pursue such revenues while safeguarding the underlying values of the university: “I think the dominant values are predominantly the same as they used to be. The income is only a means to continue to pursue our mission.”

CASTING A STONE: University Professor Edward Said aroused controversy in July when, during a visit to Lebanon, he was portrayed in a photograph hurling a stone toward the Israeli border. The photograph was distributed by the French news agency Agence France-Presse and published in the New York Daily News and the Columbia Summer Spectator, among other media outlets. Said claimed he did not aim the stone at Israeli soldiers, and according to an account in the Lebanese newspaper As-Safir, it did not hit anyone, but rather struck a barbed wire fence in front of a watchtower from which Israeli flags were flying. The action received significant media coverage in the Middle East: critics labeled it inflammatory, while Said described it in a written statement as “a symbolic gesture of joy that the occupation had ended.”

BROWN PUNISHED: Brown’s football team was ruled ineligible for this year’s Ivy League championship because some coaches, alumni and staff were found to have violated financial aid rules. It is the first time the Council of Ivy Group Presidents has ruled a school ineligible for the title in the league’s 56-year history. “The council is determined to make clear that the remedies for violations of this rule will be severe,” said Columbia President George Rupp, the council’s chairman. The council also reduced by five the number of players the Brown football program is able to recruit in each of the next two years. The infractions reportedly ranged from offers of financial aid in violation of the Ivy League ban on athletic scholarships to improper contact with prospects at an annual football banquet.

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