Trinity Church school house (on the right) on Rector Street, where the first class of King's College was held with 8 students on July 17, 1754. Image: Drawing by E. P. Chrystie, courtesy of Columbia University Archives
1754

First class held at King’s College

On July 17, 1754, King’s College holds its first class — eight students taught by colonial scholar and Anglican minister Samuel Johnson — at Trinity Church school house on Rector Street.

Trinity Church school house (on the right) on Rector Street, where the first class of King's College was held with 8 students on July 17, 1754. Image: Drawing by E. P. Chrystie, courtesy of Columbia University Archives
The first page of the King's College Charter, Oct. 31, 1754. Photo: Dwight Primiano, Courtesy Columbia University Archives
1754

King’s College is chartered in New York by King George II

King’s College is chartered in New York by King George II to “promote liberal education.” It is designated “The College of the Province of New York, in the City of New York … known by the name of King’s College.” The Rev. Samuel Johnson, a Colonial scholar and Anglican minister, is appointed its first president. There are eight students. Johnson teaches all summer classes until he is assisted in the fall by his second son, William Samuel Johnson.

The first page of the King's College Charter, Oct. 31, 1754. Photo: Dwight Primiano, Courtesy Columbia University Archives
Photo: Courtesy Columbia Public Affairs

Samuel Johnson

University President, 17541763
Photo: Courtesy Columbia Public Affairs
A drawing depicting the cornerstone laying at King's College. Image: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
1755

Trinity Church presents King’s College with land

Trinity Church presents King’s College with a parcel of land bordered by Church Street, Barclay Street, Murray Street and the Hudson River, and intersected by Park Place. Leonard Cutting is hired to replace the temporary William Johnson as the College’s first regular faculty member.

A drawing depicting the cornerstone laying at King's College. Image: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
The graduates of 1758 from The Matricula or Register of Admissions & Graduations & of Officers Employed in King's College at New York. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
1758

First Commencement

The first Commencement is held at St. George’s Chapel; there are five bachelor degree graduates.

The graduates of 1758 from The Matricula or Register of Admissions & Graduations & of Officers Employed in King's College at New York. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
An artist's rendering of the Park Place campus. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
1760

King’s College moves to Park Place

King’s College moves to a three-acre site at Park Place, overlooking the Hudson River. The campus comprises a three-story stone building, a private park and 24 rooms total for living quarters, a chapel, classrooms and dining.

An artist's rendering of the Park Place campus. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives

Myles Cooper

University President, 17631775
“No public Commencement this year. The Turbulence & Confusion which prevail in every part of the Country effectually suppress every literary Pursuit,” as written in a page from The Matricula or Register of Admissions & Graduations & of Officers Employed in King's College at New York. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
1775

The American Revolution begins

The American Revolution begins. The British ship Asia bombards the Battery. Pursued by angry patriots, Cooper flees King’s College for the British frigate HMS Kingfisher. Commencement is cancelled. Benjamin Moore, King’s College Class of 1768, a recently ordained Anglican minister and a tutor at the College, becomes acting president.

“No public Commencement this year. The Turbulence & Confusion which prevail in every part of the Country effectually suppress every literary Pursuit,” as written in a page from The Matricula or Register of Admissions & Graduations & of Officers Employed in King's College at New York. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
Revolutionary War battle between civilians and British soldiers by Felix Octavius Carr Darley. Photo: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, CAI - Darley, no. 14 (A size) [P&P]
1776

Classes are suspended

Classes are suspended due to the Revolutionary War.

Revolutionary War battle between civilians and British soldiers by Felix Octavius Carr Darley. Photo: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, CAI - Darley, no. 14 (A size) [P&P]
Page from The Matricula or Register of Admissions & Graduations & of Officers Employed in King's College at New York. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
1776

King’s College building is seized

The Revolutionary Committee on Safety seizes the King’s College building for use as a military hospital. When the British occupy Manhattan later in the year, they continue to use the College as a hospital.

Page from The Matricula or Register of Admissions & Graduations & of Officers Employed in King's College at New York. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
1784

King’s College is renamed Columbia College

King’s College reopens and is renamed Columbia College by the New York State Legislature. The word “Columbia” recently had been coined by patriotic poets and was first put to historical use here. John Jay, King’s College Class of 1764, and Alexander Hamilton, King’s College Class of 1778, are instrumental in the reopening. The new charter declares Columbia the “mother college” of the University of the State of New York.

Matricula, which records the senior class of 1786, as well as an article about Columbia College's commencement from the April 13, 1786 issue of the New York Journal and Weekly Register. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University ArchivesMatricula, which records the senior class of 1786, as well as an article about Columbia College’s commencement from the April 13, 1786 issue of the New York Journal and Weekly Register. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
1786

Columbia College graduates its first class

Columbia College graduates its first class of eight students, among whom is future governor and statesman DeWitt Clinton.

Matricula, which records the senior class of 1786, as well as an article about Columbia College’s commencement from the April 13, 1786 issue of the New York Journal and Weekly Register. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives

William Samuel Johnson

University President, 17871800
List of Columbia College Trustees appointed on April 13, 1787. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
1787

A new charter vests Columbia’s governance

A new charter vests Columbia’s governance in a self-perpetuating 24-member board, which is redesignated “the Trustees of Columbia College in the City of New York.” The New York State Legislature approves a new charter for “Columbia College in the City of New York,” by which the College reverts to its earlier status as a privately governed college serving New York City.

List of Columbia College Trustees appointed on April 13, 1787. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
Alexander Hamilton, King’s College Class of 1778. Image: N.Y.: The Knapp Co., c1896, Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-DIG-ppmsca-17523 (digital file from original print), PGA - Knapp--Alexander Hamilton (B size) [P&P]
1788

Alexander Hamilton, King’s College Class of 1778, signs Constitution

On July 26, 1788, New York became the 11th state to ratify the Constitution. Alexander Hamilton, King’s College Class of 1778, was the only representative from the state to the sign the document.

Alexander Hamilton, King’s College Class of 1778. Image: N.Y.: The Knapp Co., c1896, Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-DIG-ppmsca-17523 (digital file from original print), PGA - Knapp--Alexander Hamilton (B size) [P&P]
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives

Charles H. Wharton

University President, 18011801
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives

Benjamin Moore

University President, 18011811
Two Philolexian pendents. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
1802

The Philolexian Society is founded

The Philolexian Society, Columbia’s first student-run literary society and its oldest student organization, is founded.

Learn more about the history of the Philolexian Society.

Two Philolexian pendents. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
The first page of the charter of 1810. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
1810

A new curriculum

The 1787 College charter is amended and reenacted and a new curriculum is introduced.

The first page of the charter of 1810. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives

William Harris

University President, 18111829
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
Annual dinner of the Association of the Alumni of Columbia College at the Hotel Brunswick on February 3, 1890. Photo: University Magazine, Courtesy Columbia University Archives
1825

The Alumni Association of Columbia College is founded

Annual dinner of the Association of the Alumni of Columbia College at the Hotel Brunswick on February 3, 1890. Photo: University Magazine, Courtesy Columbia University Archives

William A. Duer

University President, 18291842
1830

The College’s curriculum is revised

The trustees issue new statutes in anticipation of the establishment of the “University of the City of New York” (later NYU), which aimed at attracting sons of the city’s commercial middle class. The College’s curriculum is revised to include a “Literary and Scientific Course” to appeal to the same constituency.

Alpha Delta Phi fraternity brothers in 1923. Photo: Pach Brothers, courtesy Columbia University Archives
1836

Alpha Delta Phi is College’s first national fraternity

A chapter of Alpha Delta Phi, the College’s first national fraternity, is organized.

Alpha Delta Phi fraternity brothers in 1923. Photo: Pach Brothers, courtesy Columbia University Archives
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives

Nathaniel Fish Moore

University President, 18421849
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives

Charles King

University President, 18491864
New York Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb. Photo: Engraved for the New York Mirror, 1835. Image: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
1856

Trustees buy the Deaf and Dumb Asylum

Trustees buy the Deaf and Dumb Asylum property on Madison Avenue, between 49th and 50th Streets; a bargain at $63,000. It is seen as a temporary site for the College.

New York Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb. Photo: Engraved for the New York Mirror, 1835. Image: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
Columbia College at Madison and 50th Street. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
1857

Columbia sells Park Place campus

Columbia sells its Park Place campus for $600,000 and moves to 49th Street and Madison Avenue, near what is now Rockefeller Center. The Main Hall of the College at Park Place is demolished.

Columbia College at Madison and 50th Street. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
An early photo of Columbia Baseball, pictured here in 1886. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
1860

Intercollegiate sports begin

Intercollegiate sports begin at Columbia with a baseball game against NYU.

An early photo of Columbia Baseball, pictured here in 1886. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives

Frederick A.P. Barnard

University President, 18641889
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
School of Mines at 49th Street campus. Photo: Gift of Edgar Grant Barratt, C.E. '84; Courtesy Columbia University Archives
1864

The School of Mines is founded

The School of Mines, now the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, is founded.

Learn more about the history of the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science.

School of Mines at 49th Street campus. Photo: Gift of Edgar Grant Barratt, C.E. '84; Courtesy Columbia University Archives
An early photo of Columbia Football, the 1887 freshman football team. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
1870

Fourth intercollegiate football game played

Columbia loses to Rutgers 6–3 in the fourth intercollegiate football game played.

An early photo of Columbia Football, the 1887 freshman football team. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
Columbia Spectator, Vol. 1, No. 1, July 1, 1877. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
1877

The Columbia Spectator is founded

The Columbia Spectator is founded as a small, bimonthly publication.

Read The Columbia Spectator's first issue, Vol. 1, No.1.

Columbia Spectator, Vol. 1, No. 1, July 1, 1877. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
Page from President Frederick A.P. Barnard’s Annual Report to trustees introduces the topic of “The Expediency of Receiving Young Women as Students.” Photo: Elena Hecht, courtesy Columbia University Archives
1879

“The Expediency of Receiving Young Women as Students” is introduced

President Frederick A.P. Barnard’s Annual Report to trustees introduces the topic of “The Expediency of Receiving Young Women as Students.”

Page from President Frederick A.P. Barnard’s Annual Report to trustees introduces the topic of “The Expediency of Receiving Young Women as Students.” Photo: Elena Hecht, courtesy Columbia University Archives
Page from Trustees Minutes, March 5, 1883:
1883

The trustees approve a system for “Collegiate Education of Women”

The trustees approve a system for “Collegiate Education of Women,” whereby qualified women could take Columbia examinations and receive Columbia degrees but could not attend Columbia courses.

Page from Trustees Minutes, March 5, 1883: "Resolved that this Board deem it expedient to institute measures for raising the standard of femal education by proposing courses of study to be pursued outside the College but under the observation of its authorities, and offering suitable academic honors and distinctions to any who, on examination, shall be found to have pursued such courses of study with success." Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
Barnard College's original home at 383 Madison Avenue. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
1889

Barnard College is founded

The trustees approve the creation of Barnard College as a separate women’s college; it is to “rent” faculty from Columbia.

Learn more about the history of Barnard College.

Barnard College's original home at 383 Madison Avenue. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives

Seth Low

University President, 18901901
Proposed site map of Columbia’s Morningside campus. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
1892

18 acres on Morningside Heights acquired

The University acquires 18 acres on Morningside Heights for a new campus.

Proposed site map of Columbia’s Morningside campus. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
Resolution of December 4, 1893, in response to April 10, 1893 letter from McKim, Mead & White to President Seth Low regarding proposal for Columbia’s Morningside campus. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
1893

Mornigside site architects chosen

The trustees select the architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White to develop the Morningside site.

Resolution of December 4, 1893, in response to April 10, 1893 letter from McKim, Mead & White to President Seth Low regarding proposal for Columbia’s Morningside campus. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
The first production of The Varsity Show,
1894

The Varsity Show begins

The Varsity Show is founded as a fundraiser for Columbia Athletics. It will continue on to become one of Columbias most beloved traditions, producing some of the College's most famous alumni: Oscar Hammerstein II, CC Class of 1916; Lorenz Hart, CC Class of 1918; Richard Rodgers, CC23; I.A.L. Diamond CC41; Brian Yorkey CC’93; and Tom Kitt CC’96, among others.

Learn more about the history of The Varsity Show, and see Columbia College Today’s 2014 feature, “The Varsity Show Through the Years: A look back at Columbia’s longest running theatrical tradition in pictures, programs and posters.”

The first production of The Varsity Show, "Joan of Arc." Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives

John Howard Van Amringe CC 1860

Dean of the College, 18961910
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
Invitation to the dedication of the new site at Morningside Heights, held on May 2, 1896. Photo: Columbia University in the City of New York, courtesy Columbia University Archives
1896

Morningside Heights campus is dedicated

President Seth Low, CC Class of 1870, leads the dedication of the Morningside Heights campus. He speaks of the University’s responsibilities to the City of New York, and the trustees adopt the institutional designation of “Columbia University in the City of New York.” The undergraduate school now is to be known as Columbia College.

Read the Columbia Spectator's article about the importance of the new campus.

Invitation to the dedication of the new site at Morningside Heights, held on May 2, 1896. Photo: Columbia University in the City of New York, courtesy Columbia University Archives
This view of Columbia University was taken in 1897, the year Columbia moved to Morningside Heights from its home on Madison Avenue and 49th Street. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
1897

College moves to Morningside Heights

The College moves to Morningside Heights, selling its 49th Street campus and demolishing its buildings.

This view of Columbia University was taken in 1897, the year Columbia moved to Morningside Heights from its home on Madison Avenue and 49th Street. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives

Nicholas Murray Butler

University President, 19021945
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
A clipping from the October 8, 1903 “Leslie's Weekly” with the caption,
1903

Alma Mater is installed in front of Low Library

Alma Mater, a bronze sculpture by Daniel Chester French — famous for his statue of Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. — is installed in front of Low Library. Alma Mater is also the subject of many Columbia legends, including that the first student in every new class to find the hidden owl on the statue will be the class valedictorian.  

Read more about the unveiling of the statue in The Columbia Spectator from September 24, 1903.

 

A clipping from the October 8, 1903 "Leslie's Weekly" with the caption, "Striking Statue of 'Alma Mater' unveiled at Columbia University. Opening of the institution's 150th academic year celebrated by the dedication of [Daniel Chester] French's Masterpiece of Sculpture -- T.C. Muller." Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
1905

Columbia abolishes intercollegiate football

Columbia abolishes intercollegiate football to protest the sport’s violence. The ban lasts until 1916.

Read more about this event in The Columbia Spectator from December 5, 1905.

"President Issues Letter, Gives Reasons for Abolishing the Game at Columbia," from the newspaper's December 4, 1905 front page. Image: Columbia Spectator, courtesy Columbia University Archives
The Hamilton Hall cornerstone being laid. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
1907

Hamilton Hall opens

The opening of Hamilton Hall is celebrated with a meeting of students and alumni, including a number of the trustees and officers of the University.

Read more in The Columbia Spectator from January 30, 1907.

The Hamilton Hall cornerstone being laid. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives

Frederick Paul Keppel

Dean of the College, 19101917
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
Photo: Courtesy of Columbia University Archives
1910

Class of 1885 Sundial is presented

The Class of 1885 Sundial, designed by Rutherford Professor of Astronomy Harold Jacoby, CC Class of 1885, is presented. The granite sphere was removed in 1946 when it developed two cracks.

Read more about the sundials dedication in the Columbia Spectator from June 1, 1910.

Photo: Courtesy of Columbia University Archives
1912

The University is formed

On July 17, 1912, the College becomes the University with an order by the Supreme Court of the State of New York to change the school's name from The Trustees of Columbia College in the City of New York to the Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York.

Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives

Herbert E. Hawkes

Dean of the College, 19181943
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
Syllabus from Introduction To Contemporary Civilization, 1919. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
1919

First course in Core Curriculum introduced

The College introduces “Introduction to Contemporary Civilization,” the first course in the Core Curriculum. Founded as a course on War and Peace Issues, the central purpose of Contemporary Civilization is to introduce students to a range of issues concerning the kinds of communities – political, social, moral, and religious – that human beings construct for themselves and the values that inform and define such communities; the course is intended to prepare students to become active and informed citizens.

Learn more about Contemporary Civilization, and explore the literature on today's Contemporary Civilization syllabus.

Syllabus from Introduction To Contemporary Civilization, 1919. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
A page from the 1920-21 Columbia University Bulletin of Information, the first listing of the General Honors course. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
1920

First General Honors course is taught

John Erskine, CC Class of 1900, teaches the first General Honors course, a precursor to the Humanities sequence in the Core Curriculum.

A page from the 1920-21 Columbia University Bulletin of Information, the first listing of the General Honors course. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
Photo: Courtesy Columbia College Today
1925

Lionel Trilling CC ’25 graduates

Lionel Trilling CC ’25, GSAS ’38, who will go on to become a renowned Columbia professor of English literature and one of the greatest critics of his generation, graduates. He and his wife, Diana, an author, will be at the center of New York’s liberal intelligentsia for decades to follow.

Photo: Courtesy Columbia College Today
Baker Field upon its completion in 1925. Photo: Courtesy Columbia Athletics
1925

Baker Field is completed

Baker Field’s football stadium, on the northernmost tip of Manhattan, is completed.

Baker Field upon its completion in 1925. Photo: Courtesy Columbia Athletics
Books are moved across Low Plaza to the new library. Photo: Columbia Alumni News, Nov. 23, 1934; Courtesy Columbia University Archives
1934

Butler Library opens as South Hall

Butler Library opens as South Hall, replacing the grand but obsolete Low Memorial Library. It cost $4 million (depression-era), donated by Standard Oil executive Edward S. Harkness, and was designed by James Gamble Rogers, who also was responsible for the Sterling Memorial Library at Yale. The books housed in Low Library are famously moved via conveyor belt to the new library. In 1946, South Hall was renamed Butler Library, in honor of Nicholas Murray Butler, CC Class of 1882, the president of Columbia from 1902 to 1945. He had already put his stamp on the library, as he had selected the names carved along the porticos and on the panels, and had selected the quotations gracing the main rooms.

Books are moved across Low Plaza to the new library. Photo: Columbia Alumni News, Nov. 23, 1934; Courtesy Columbia University Archives
Columbia Football wins the Rose Bowl, beating Stanford 7–0. Photo: Courtesy Columbia Athletics
1934

Columbia wins Rose Bowl

Columbia’s football team beats Stanford 7–0 in the Rose Bowl.

Read about the Rose Bowl win in the Columbia Daily Spectator from January 3, 1934.

Columbia Football wins the Rose Bowl, beating Stanford 7–0. Photo: Courtesy Columbia Athletics
Schedule of 1st semester of Humanities A. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
1937

Literature Humanities requirement begins

The Humanities A (later Literature Humanities) requirement begins. Humanities B (music and fine arts) begins as an optional sequence.

Learn more about Literature Humanities, and explore the literature on today's syllabus.

Schedule of 1st semester of Humanities A. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
1941

University physicists research the atom

Research into the atom by faculty members I.I. Rabi GSAS ’27, Enrico Fermi and Polykarp Kusch brings the physics department into the international spotlight.

Learn more about Columbias role during World War II, including The Manhattan Project, which had its beginnings in the Pupin Physics Laboratories of Columbia University.

Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
CURC broadcast over campus radio station in 1942. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
1941

WKCR gets its broadcasting license

WKCR, then called Columbia University Radio Club (CURC), gets its broadcasting license from the FCC.

Read more about WKCR's history.

CURC broadcast over campus radio station in 1942. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives

Harry James Carman

Dean of the College, 19431950
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives

Frank D. Fackenthal

Acting University President, 19451948
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
The Alumni House, now called Buell Hall, where the School of General Studies was first housed. Photo: Courtesy the School of General Studies
1947

School of General Studies is founded

The School of General Studies is founded. The school is first housed in the “Alumni House,” now called Buell Hall.

Learn more about the history of the School of General Studies.

The Alumni House, now called Buell Hall, where the School of General Studies was first housed. Photo: Courtesy the School of General Studies
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives

Dwight D. Eisenhower

University President, 19481953
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives

Lawrence Henry Chamberlain

Dean of the College, 19501958
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
General Eisenhower's last picture at Columbia, on January 16, 1953, four days before being inaugurated as President of the United States. Photo: Manny Warman, courtesy Columbia University Archives
1953

Columbia President Dwight D. Eisenhower elected President of the United States

Columbia President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a former commanding general of the American forces in Europe and supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force during World War II, is elected the 34th President of the United States. He resigns as Columbia University president, effective January 19, 1953.

General Eisenhower's last picture at Columbia, on January 16, 1953, four days before being inaugurated as President of the United States. Photo: Manny Warman, courtesy Columbia University Archives

Grayson Kirk

University President, 19531968
Bicentennial exhibit panel. Photo: Columbia University, Courtesy Columbia University Archives
1954

Columbia celebrates its bicentennial

Columbia has a year-long celebration of its bicentennial with the theme “Man’s Right to Knowledge and the Free Use Thereof.” A major campus building program is activated and, by the end of the following decade, five of the University’s schools are housed in new buildings.

Bicentennial exhibit panel. Photo: Columbia University, Courtesy Columbia University Archives
The 1956 Columbia Football team. Photo: Courtesy Columbia Athletics
1956

Ivy League football is inaugurated

Ivy League football is inaugurated; Columbia is one of eight teams in the league.

The 1956 Columbia Football team. Photo: Courtesy Columbia Athletics
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives

John Gorham Palfrey

Dean of the College, 19581962
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
Photo: Courtesy Columbia College Today
1959

Mark Van Doren retires

Legendary English professor Mark Van Doren GSAS ’21 retires after nearly 40 years at Columbia.

Photo: Courtesy Columbia College Today
Ferris Booth Hall. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Facilities
1960

Ferris Booth Hall opens

Ferris Booth Hall opens as the first Columbia student center. The building was named in memory of Ferris Booth CC ’24, son of Willis Booth, a New York financier, who donated $1.9 million towards the creation of the student center. The building would remain the Columbia student center until 1995, when it was demolished.

Read more about Ferris Booth Hall in the Columbia Daily Spectator from April 19, 1960.

Ferris Booth Hall. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Facilities
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives

David B. Truman

Dean of the College, 19631967
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
Members of the Afro-American Society as pictured in the 1967 Columbian. Photo: Columbian, courtesy Columbia University Archives
1964

Students’ Afro-American Society founded

Columbia College and Barnard College begin the active recruiting of black applicants. The Students’ Afro-American Society chapter at Columbia becomes the first African-American advocacy group on a multi-racial campus in the United States.

Columbians participate in voter-registration drives throughout the South. Many return to campus determined to participate in civil-rights protest activities and neighborhood organizing in New York.

Members of the Afro-American Society as pictured in the 1967 Columbian. Photo: Columbian, courtesy Columbia University Archives
Students from Project Double Discovery studying in August, 1966. Photo Manuel Hernandez, One Production Only; courtesy Columbia University Archives
1965

Double Discovery Center is founded

Students found the Project Double Discovery, which will later become the Double Discovery Center. The program was the creation of Columbia undergraduates moved by the disparities between their Ivy League institution and the community surrounding the University.

Learn more about the Double Discovery Center today.

Students from Project Double Discovery studying in August, 1966. Photo Manuel Hernandez, One Production Only; courtesy Columbia University Archives
An article from The New York Times on May 3, 1967, about the founding of the Student Homophile League. Image: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
1967

University issues charter to country’s oldest student gay-rights advocacy group

The University issues a charter to the Student Homophile League, the country’s oldest student gay-rights advocacy group.

Read more about the Student Homophile League in the Columbia Daily Spectator from April 27, 1967.

An article from The New York Times on May 3, 1967, about the founding of the Student Homophile League. Image: Courtesy Columbia University Archives

Carl F. Hovde CC’50

Dean of the College, 19681972
Photo: Office of Public Information, courtesy Columbia University Archives
1968

Students occupy campus buildings in protest

Students occupy five campus buildings, protesting the University's work on Morningside Gymnasium, involvement with military agencies, and alleged racism. After eight days, city police clear the buildings and make 712 arrests, 524 of them Columbia students.

At a meeting of the Joint Faculties the afternoon following the police bust, the Executive Committee of the Faculty is created to try to restore the torn fabric of the University. Law professor Michael I. Sovern is made co-chairman, along with political scientist Allan Westin. At the committee's urging, the gym project is abandoned, University links to military defense agencies and NROTC are terminated, and criminal charges against arrested students are dropped. An outside fact-finding commission, chaired by Harvard law professor Archibald Cox, is invited on campus to investigate the causes of the disturbances.

Four months later, President Kirk announces his retirement. Andrew W. Cordier, then dean of the School of International Affairs and a seasoned U.N. diplomat, is named acting president.

Read more in the Columbia Daily Spectator's “Crisis at Columbia: An Inside Report on the Rebellion at Columbia.”

Photo: Office of Public Information, courtesy Columbia University Archives
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives

Andrew W. Cordier

Acting University President, 19681969
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
Page from the Columbia Daily Spectator on February 17, 1969. Image: Columbia Spectator, courtesy Columbia University Archives
1969

University Senate is founded

The University Senate, a representative assembly of faculty, students and administrators, is voted into existence by a University-wide referendum. It assumes the responsibilities of the Executive Committee of the Faculty, which ends its work.

Learn more about the University Senate today.

Page from the Columbia Daily Spectator on February 17, 1969. Image: Columbia Spectator, courtesy Columbia University Archives
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives

Andrew W. Cordier

University President, 19691970
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives

William J. McGill

University President, 19701980
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
Photo: Columbia Spectator photo, courtesy Columbia University Archives

Peter R. Pouncey

Dean of the College, 19721976
Photo: Columbia Spectator photo, courtesy Columbia University Archives
Robert L. Belknap

Robert L. Belknap

Acting Dean of the College, 19761977
Robert L. Belknap
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives

Arnold Collery

Dean of the College, 19771982
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives

Michael I. Sovern

University President, 19801993
Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
Baker Field reconstruction in 1983. Photo: Joe Pineiro, Columbia University; courtesy Columbia University Archives
1982

Baker Field to be renovated

Lawrence A. Wien CC ’25 donates $3 million for the renovation of Baker Field.

Baker Field reconstruction in 1983. Photo: Joe Pineiro, Columbia University; courtesy Columbia University Archives
Photo: Columbia Spectator photo, courtesy Columbia University Archives

Robert E. Pollack CC’61

Dean of the College, 19821989
Photo: Columbia Spectator photo, courtesy Columbia University Archives
A male and female student, wearing beanies, read an issue of The Columbia Daily Spectator with the heading
1983

The College admits its first fully coeducational class

The College admits its first fully coeducational class, although some women already were attending as transfer students.

Read more about when Columbia College became coed in the Columbia Daily Spectator from August 29, 1983.

A male and female student, wearing beanies, read an issue of The Columbia Daily Spectator with the heading "Coed At Last." Photo: Joe Pineiro, courtesy Columbia University Archives
Photo: Courtesy Columbia Athletics
1984

Lawrence A. Wien Stadium at Baker Field opens

The Lawrence A. Wien [CC ’25] Stadium at Baker Field opens with a Columbia Football game against Harvard.

Photo: Courtesy Columbia Athletics
Article in the Columbia Daily Spectator on May 13, 1987. Image: Columbia Spectator, courtesy Columbia University Archives
1987

John Kluge CC ’37 establishes Kluge Presidential Scholars Program

John Kluge CC ’37 establishes the Kluge Presidential Scholars Program, a scholarship program for students from underrepresented communities at Columbia. The Kluge Presidential Scholars Program is part of what was then the largest gift ever received by the University. The program is enhanced by subsequent donations from Kluge.

Article in the Columbia Daily Spectator on May 13, 1987. Image: Columbia Spectator, courtesy Columbia University Archives
The front page of the Columbia Daily Spectator on October 10, 1988, after the Lions’ first football victory in nearly five years. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
1988

Columbia Football ends 44-game losing streak

The football team’s 44-game losing streak ends with a 16–13 Homecoming win over Princeton.

Read more about the Columbia Football Team's win in The Columbia Daily Spectator from October 10, 1988.

The front page of the Columbia Daily Spectator on October 10, 1988, after the Lions’ first football victory in nearly five years. Photo: Courtesy Columbia University Archives
Photo: A. Vladeck, courtesy Columbia University Archives

Jack Greenberg CC’45

Dean of the College, 19891993
Photo: A. Vladeck, courtesy Columbia University Archives
Page from the February 20, 1990, issue of the Columbia Daily Spectator. Image: Columbia Spectator, courtesy Columbia University Archives
1990

The Extended Core (later Major Cultures) requirement is established

The Extended Core (later Major Cultures) requirement is established.

Page from the February 20, 1990, issue of the Columbia Daily Spectator. Image: Columbia Spectator, courtesy Columbia University Archives

George Rupp

University President, 19932002
Photo: Nicholas Kurish, courtesy Columbia University Archives

Steven Marcus

Dean of the College, 19931995
Photo: Nicholas Kurish, courtesy Columbia University Archives
Photo: Philippe Cheng, courtesy Columbia University Archives

Austin E. Quigley

Dean of the College, 19952009
Photo: Philippe Cheng, courtesy Columbia University Archives
Alfred Lerner Hall, an undergraduate student center, opens. Photo: Eileen Barroso
1999

Alfred Lerner Hall opens

Alfred Lerner Hall, an undergraduate student center, opens after the 1995 demolition of Ferris Booth Hall. The building was financed in part through a $25 million gift from Alfred Lerner CC ’55, as well as supplementary donations that included $6 million from Roone Arledge CC ’52.

Read more about Alfred Lerner Hall from the Columbia Daily Spectator.

Alfred Lerner Hall, an undergraduate student center, opens. Photo: Eileen Barroso
Photo: Courtesy Columbia Athletics
2000

Cristina Teuscher CC ’00 chosen as nation’s female collegiate athlete of the year

Cristina Teuscher CC ’00 becomes the first Ivy Leaguer to be chosen as the nation’s female collegiate athlete of the year. Teuscher won an individual swimming bronze medal at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney after having won a relay gold medal in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

Photo: Courtesy Columbia Athletics
Article in the Columbia Daily Spectator on April 26, 2000. Image: Columbia Spectator, courtesy Columbia University Archives
2000

The Roone Arledge Auditorium and Cinema in Alfred Lerner Hall is dedicated

The Roone Arledge [CC ’52] Auditorium and Cinema in Alfred Lerner Hall is dedicated. Arledge, a television news and sports pioneer, won 36 Emmy Awards before his death in 2002.

Article in the Columbia Daily Spectator on April 26, 2000. Image: Columbia Spectator, courtesy Columbia University Archives
Photo: Colin Sullivan CC ’11
2002

Renovations to historic Hamilton Hall begin

Renovations to historic Hamilton Hall begin.

Photo: Colin Sullivan CC ’11
Photo: Courtesy Columbia Public Affairs

Lee C. Bollinger

University President, 2002–Present
Photo: Courtesy Columbia Public Affairs
Captains for the Fencing Ivy League Championship squad. Photo: Gene Boyars, Courtesy Columbia Athletics
2003

Columbia Fencing wins Ivy League

The men’s and women’s fencing teams win Ivy League titles, continuing Columbia’s tradition of fielding outstanding teams in this sport.

Captains for the Fencing Ivy League Championship squad. Photo: Gene Boyars, Courtesy Columbia Athletics
Columbia celebrates its 250th anniversary. Photo: Eileen Barroso
2004

Columbia celebrates its 250th anniversary

Columbia celebrates its 250th anniversary with events, symposia, publications and insights into its history.

Learn more about the University's history at c250.columbia.edu.

Columbia celebrates its 250th anniversary. Photo: Eileen Barroso
The 1967-68 Ivy League Championship Men's Basketball Team at their induction into the Columbia University Athletics Hall of Fame during the inaugural event. Photo: Gene Boyars, courtesy Columbia Athletics
2006

Inaugural class inducted into Columbia University Athletics Hall of Fame

The inaugural class was inducted into the Columbia University Athletics Hall of Fame, founded to honor, pay tribute and perpetuate the memory of those individuals who, either through participation, support or interest, have made outstanding contributions in the field of intercollegiate athletics and who have helped bring recognition, honor, distinction and excellence to Columbia University.

Learn more about the Columbia University Athletics Hall of Fame.

The 1967-68 Ivy League Championship Men's Basketball Team at their induction into the Columbia University Athletics Hall of Fame during the inaugural event. Photo: Gene Boyars, courtesy Columbia Athletics
The dedication of the Robert K. Kraft Field. Photo: Gene Boyars, courtesy Columbia Athletics
2007

Football field dedicated in honor of Robert K. Kraft CC ’63

Robert K. Kraft CC ’63, chairman and CEO of The Kraft Group and owner of the New England Patriots, pledges $5 million to the University in support of Columbia’s intercollegiate athletics program. In recognition of Kraft’s gift, one of the largest ever to Columbia Athletics, the playing field at Columbia’s Lawrence A. Wien Stadium at the Baker Field Athletics Complex is named “Robert K. Kraft Field.”

The dedication of the Robert K. Kraft Field. Photo: Gene Boyars, courtesy Columbia Athletics
John W. Kluge CC ’37. Photo: Eileen Barroso
2007

$400 million pledge to the University

John W. Kluge CC ’37 makes a $400 million pledge to the University, the largest gift ever devoted to student financial aid. The gift provides $200 million in financial aid endowment for undergraduates at the College and $200 million for GSAS, the School of the Arts, the Journalism School and SIPA, bringing Kluge’s total philanthropy to Columbia to more than $500 million.

John W. Kluge CC ’37. Photo: Eileen Barroso
Barack Obama CC '83 is elected 44th President of the United States. Photo: The White House
2008

Barack Obama CC ’83 elected President

Barack Obama CC ’83 is elected the 44th President of the United States.

Barack Obama CC '83 is elected 44th President of the United States. Photo: The White House
An aerial view of the Manhattanville campus, looking north from the southeast. Photo: Courtesy Columbia Facilities
2009

Manhattanville campus is approved

New York State’s Public Authorities Control Board grants the final public approval for the University’s plan to expand to the 17-acre site consisting primarily of West 129th to West 133rd Streets between Broadway and Twelfth Avenue, including the north side of West 125th Street, and three properties on the east side of Broadway from West 131st to West 134th Streets. The plan, which includes more than 6.8 million square feet of space for teaching, research, underground parking and support services, is estimated to be completed by 2030.

An aerial view of the Manhattanville campus, looking north from the southeast. Photo: Courtesy Columbia Facilities

Michele Moody-Adams

Dean of the College, 20092011
The opening of the Columbia Alumni Center. Photo: Eileen Barroso
2009

Columbia Alumni Center opens

The Columbia Alumni Center opens on West 113th Street, between Broadway and Riverside Drive.

The opening of the Columbia Alumni Center. Photo: Eileen Barroso

James J. Valentini

Dean of the College, 2011–Present
The Campbell Sports Center. Photo: Courtesy Mike McLaughlin
2012

Campbell Sports Center is completed

The Campbell Sports Center is completed. The first new athletics building since the Marcellus Hartley Dodge Physical Fitness Center was built in the mid-1970s, the center becomes the cornerstone of the Baker Athletics Complex at West 218th Street. The center is named in honor of William V. Campbell CC ’62, TC ’64, chair of the University Trustees and the head football coach at Columbia for six years, for his visionary leadership and tremendous support of Columbia.

The Campbell Sports Center. Photo: Courtesy Mike McLaughlin
A cartoon from Columbia College Today in honor of Literature Humanities’ 75th birthday. Illustration: R.J. Matson CC ’85
2013

Literature Humanities celebrates 75 years

In 2013, the College celebrated the 75th anniversary of Literature Humanities with a panel discussion in Low Library, "LitHum@75." The celebration is attended by more than 200 alumni, students, parents and faculty.

Afterward, current and former students gather in rooms around the University for Lit Hum discussions and to discuss the significance of the Core in their lives.

Learn more about Literature Humanities throughout the years.

A cartoon from Columbia College Today in honor of Literature Humanities’ 75th birthday. Illustration: R.J. Matson CC ’85
2014

College celebrates first Charter Day

On October 30, 2014, Columbia College celebrated College history with treats, special gifts and a historical photo display in Hamilton Hall, marking the anniversary of the College's original charter, signed on October 31, 1754.

Columbia College launched Core to Commencement, a $400 million campaign to create the greatest undergraduate education there is. Students, faculty, alumni and parents came together in Low Library on November 20, 2015 to celebrate. The event featured Tony Kushner CC’78, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of “Angels in America,” in conversation with Lisa Carnoy CC’89, University Trustee and campaign co-chair. Photo: Scott Rudd
2015

Core to Commencement campaign launches

Columbia College launched Core to Commencement,  the first-ever fundraising and engagement campaign to be dedicated exclusively to the students and faculty of the College. The campaign seeks to raise $400 million to create the greatest undergraduate education. Students, faculty, alumni and parents came together in Low Library on November 20, 2015 to celebrate. The event featured Tony Kushner CC’78, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of “Angels in America,” in conversation with Lisa Carnoy CC’89, University Trustee and campaign co-chair. 

Photo: Scott Rudd

Founded in 1754 as King’s College and renamed in 1784, Columbia College is the oldest school within Columbia University in the City of New York and the fifth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States. This timeline reflects the College’s rich history, from Colonial America through the present day.

This timeline is based on Columbia College Today’s “250 Years,” compiled by Lisa Palladino in 2004, with additional research and compilation by Elena Hecht. Special thanks to CCIT and Associate University Archivist Jocelyn K. Wilk. Visit Columbia University Archives for other Columbia University Historical Timelines.

© 2014 Columbia University