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Columbia College Launches Core to Commencement Campaign

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Columbia College has launched Core to Commencement, a $400 million fundraising and engagement campaign to enhance its liberal arts education and support students and faculty. It is the first-ever fundraising and engagement campaign to be dedicated exclusively to Columbia College.

The campaign paints a comprehensive vision for the College’s future, centered in the Core Curriculum, a set of liberal arts courses in which students encounter great works of literature, art, music, political theory and science, and consider the most difficult questions about the human experience in small seminars. The campaign seeks to endow the Core, which has been required of all College students for nearly 100 years, and to bring the Core into its next century using innovative technologies and interdisciplinary programming.

The campaign was publicly launched in Low Rotunda on November 20. Jonathan S. Lavine CC’88, a University trustee and co-chair of the campaign, gave opening remarks, welcoming guests to the “momentous occasion” and remarking that Columbia is an “extraordinary institution” that is experiencing momentum on many fronts.

James J. Valentini, dean of Columbia College and VP for undergraduate education, spoke next, stating: “Core to Commencement is a campaign that strengthens every aspect of the College and prepares our students for their lives after graduation, and it is a campaign that celebrates the faculty that make this the greatest undergraduate education possible.”

President Lee C. Bollinger also spoke, noting: “The Core to Commencement campaign is tied to very significant events and changes in the world and tied intimately to what it is we need most, which is the sense of how to make the right choices and to choose what kind of societies we are going to have.”

Meredith Kirk CC’12 then took the stage to convey her experience as a student and explain how the Core influenced her personal and professional life. Julie Crawford, the Mark Van Doren Professor of Humanities and chair of Literature Humanities followed, commenting on her experiences of teaching the Core and how it prepared her and her students to approach any work “meaningfully, with confidence and with pleasure.”

The launch ended with a candid conversation between Tony Kushner CC’78, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright of Angels in America, and Lisa L. Carnoy CC’89, a University trustee and a co-chair of the campaign. Kushner discussed how he came to apply to Columbia, his love for the Iliad and his involvement in the arts at Columbia, and how Columbia and the Core provided "extraordinary training" for his career and his life. He ended his thoughts by remarking that "the single institution to which I am most indebted is Columbia College."

Learn more about the campaign.