The Columbia College Annual Report 2016–2017 celebrates Columbia College — our remarkable academic community; our outstanding education, including our renowned Core Curriculum; the many ways we offer students the skills they'll need today and in the future; and our commitment to helping students develop knowledge, understanding, insight and empathy so they can become active citizens of the world. These pages highlight the College's priorities, including Core to Commencement — the campaign we launched in November 2015 to build what we believe to be the world's greatest undergraduate experience and to provide excellence in all that we do — and they celebrate you: our exceptional students, alumni and faculty, and the generous donors and volunteers who make Columbia College the greatest college in the greatest university in the greatest city in the world.

Roar, Lion(s), Roar,

Dean's signature
James J. Valentini
Dean of Columbia College and
Vice President for Undergraduate Education

Our Community

Our students, faculty and alumni, and their innovative endeavors and accomplishments are at the heart of Columbia College.

Learning to Let Her Voice Be Heard

“I think being a campus leader definitely helped because it's made me more outspoken.” —Amari Tankard ’17

Exploring the Core Curriculum through Theater

“I've had the most amazing experience in the Core. I feel like it made us grow, not just intellectually and philosophically, but even spiritually.” —Marina Chan ’17

Discovering a Passion for Research

“I learned a lot more about myself because I was forced to be with people who are very different from me.” —Jordan Brewington ’17

From College Walk to South Sudan and Back

“It was a great fortune that I was able to find students with the relatively specific passion that I had for natural resources and conflict.” —Yonghak Roh ’17

Combining Theory and Practice

“I'm really thankful for Columbia – I've been able to meet so many wonderful students, learn from so many wonderful professors, and get mentored by some of the greatest people on earth.” —Mark Jamias ’17

Science and Art in Archaeological Illustration

“We learned conventions from drawing different materials, and now we're thinking creatively about how we draw them.” —Alaina Wibberly ’18

Connecting with Cosmonauts

“While I have continued to work on this project for my Russian senior thesis ... it is the unexpected similarities between these letters and my own that have stuck with me.” —Kate Seidel ’17

Civic Engagement from Page to Place

“I believe that I have become better equipped not simply for the working world ... but to go back into the classroom and the so-called ‘real’ world and make both my experiences there more meaningful.” — Matthew Buck ’17

Opening New Doors through the Special Concentration in Business Management

“I am so grateful for the Special Concentration in Business Management, but not just because it made me an effective public speaker. The courses I took made me think about questions that I'd never considered before.” —Madeleine Matthews ’17

Reflections from the Desert

“Never in my life have I been as ecstatically calm as when I ate breakfast in a Bedouin camp in Wadi Rum after watching the sunrise at the top of a sandstone mountain.” —Katherine Hacthoun ’19

Students honored at 2017 Leadership and Excellence Awards Ceremony

On April 17, students were honored for their leadership and involvement on campus at the 2017 Leadership and Excellence Awards Ceremony in Alfred Lerner Hall's Roone Arledge Auditorium.

Nine Columbia College alumni awarded 2016-2017 Fulbright U.S. Student grants

Congratulations to the Columbia College recipients of the 2016–2017 Fulbright U.S. Student Program Grants.

Professor Kellie Jones named MacArthur Fellow

Kellie Jones, associate professor and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Art History and Archaeology, was named as a 2016 fellow of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. She joins a distinguished group of 23 talented people in a variety of fields who received fellowships this year for creative work that demonstrates notable originality, dedication and self-direction.

Three faculty members presented the 2016 Alexander Hamilton Medal

University Professor Ronald Breslow*, the DeWitt Clinton Professor of History Eric Foner ’63, GSAS’69 and the Jacques Barzun Professor of History Kenneth T. Jackson were presented the 2016 Alexander Hamilton Medal on Thursday, November 17.

* Columbia College mourns the loss of University Professor Ronald C. D. Breslow, who passed away on October 25, 2017.

Twenty-three seniors initiatied into Junior Phi Beta Kappa

Columbia College has announced the names of 23 seniors initiated into Phi Beta Kappa, the national honor society, on Friday, January 20.

Santiago Tobar Potes ’20 joins inaugural Better Make Room Student Advisory Board

Santiago Tobar Potes ’20, a John W. Kluge Scholar from Miami, Fla., has been selected as one of five college students on the inaugural 17-member Better Make Room Student Advisory Board.

Columbia College honors alumni for professional achievements

The former President of the Republic of Estonia, the creator of Netflix show Orange is the New Black, and the president and CEO of Cantillon Capital Management, among others, were being honored for their professional achievements at the 39th Annual John Jay Awards Dinner on Wednesday, March 1.

Sophie Wilkowske ’17 wins prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship

Sophie Wilkowske ’17, a history major from Duluth, Minn., has received a prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship to pursue an MPhil in political thought and intellectual history at the University of Cambridge.

David M. Friedman ’78 appointed U.S. Ambassador

David M. Friedman ’78 has been appointed U.S. Ambassador to Israel.

Students receive 2017 Presidential Global Fellowships

Nineteen first-year students in Columbia College, The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the School of General Studies have received 2017 Presidential Global Fellowships.

Chair of Contemporary Civilization Patricia Kitcher wins Society of Columbia Graduates’ 2017 Great Teacher Award

Patricia Kitcher, the Roberta and William Campbell Professor of the Humanities and the Carnoy Family Program Chair for Contemporary Civilization, is the Columbia College faculty winner of the Society of Columbia Graduates’ 2017 Great Teacher Award.

Sheena Wright ’90, President and CEO of United Way of New York City, named Class Day Speaker

Sheena Wright ’90, LAW’94, president and CEO of United Way of New York City (UWNYC), which seeks to improve the lives of low-income New Yorkers, delivered the keynote address at the 2017 Columbia College Class Day ceremony.

Neil Gorsuch ’88 confirmed to the Supreme Court of the United States

Neil Gorsuch ’88, a former judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, has been confirmed to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Columbia College announces 2017 valedictorian and salutatorian

Michael Abolafia ’17, an English and comparative literature major from Rochelle Park, N.J., and Hui Yu Wong ’17, an art history major with an anthropology concentration from Singapore, have been named valedictorian and salutatorian respectively, the top academic honors for the Columbia College Class of 2017.

Columbia College and Columbia Engineering student team win undergraduate entrepreneurship challenge

George Liu ’17, an economics major, and Alan Gou SEAS’17, a computer science major, have won first place in the Columbia Venture Competition's Undergraduate Challenge for their startup Palette, a platform used by teams to plan, record and learn from growth and marketing experiments.

Eighty-nine seniors initiated into Phi Beta Kappa

Columbia College has announced the names of 89 seniors who were initiated into Phi Beta Kappa, the national honor society, on Tuesday, May 16.

Viviana Prado-Núñez ’20 wins Burt Award for Caribbean Literature

Viviana Prado-Núñez ’20, a Kluge Scholar born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and raised in Reisterstown, Md., has won the 2017 Burt Award for Caribbean Literature for her book, The Art of White Roses. The award is given by CODE, a Canadian international development agency focused on education and global literacy.

Students awarded 2017 U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarships

Two Columbia College students have been awarded prestigious 2017 U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarships.

Anneliese Mesa-Jonassen ’17 wins Mortimer Hays-Brandeis Traveling Fellowship

Anneliese Mesa-Jonassen ’17, originally from Pleasantville, NY, has been awarded a prestigious Mortimer Hays-Brandeis Traveling Fellowship. The fellowship provides $19,000 to support students in the visual and fine arts, including art history, conservation, studio art and photography, for travel and living expenses outside the United States.

Professors Elizabeth Povinelli and Caterina Luigia Pizzigoni receive student awards for teaching and publishing

Elizabeth Povinelli, the Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology, will be awarded the 42nd annual Lionel Trilling Book Award, for her book Geontologies: A Requiem to Late Liberalism. Caterina Luigia Pizzigoni, associate professor of history and a teacher in the College’s Core Curriculum, will be honored with the 56th annual Mark Van Doren Award for Teaching for her unparalleled dedication to teaching and to her students.

See all stories on Columbia to the Core

Giving Back

Columbia College Fund


11,161 donors

Columbia Giving Day


more than 1,863 donors

Gifts from Parents


1,700 donors

Young Alumni Scholarship

2 new scholarships

made possible by nearly 650 young alumni donors

Thank you to all who gave

Our Year