A Community Comes Together Again

Jenna Bascom Photography

As I write this letter, Columbia College is preparing to welcome many of its students back to campus for a long-anticipated return. The Columbia College Alumni Association (CCAA) applauds the work done by the College and the University in navigating a course that has valued the safety of its faculty and students above all other considerations. While we suspect Covid-19 and its variants will be with us for years to come, we hope never to return to such a severe lockdown and remote life.

With the start of the new academic year, we remind ourselves of the CCAA’s mission to further the vibrancy of the College and forge meaningful connections among alumni. Thousands of alumni volunteer time and give generously to support the dean’s priorities. This steady commitment fuels the University and is part of what enables it to provide the very best to all students, who then go forth and change the world.

The CCAA is particularly proud of the strong alumni support of the Columbia College Fund during the past year. Thanks to these groups for the fundraising success: (1) our donors, (2) our alumni volunteers and (3) the unstoppable staff at the Dean’s Office and the Alumni Office. The financial support provided by the College Fund is essential to students, the majority of whom benefit from financial aid.

Relatedly, a few months ago Dean James J. Valentini announced the College is joining the University-wide effort made public by President Lee C. Bollinger to launch the largest financial aid initiative in our history. As a community, we are committed to raising $500 million in financial assistance by 2025, which will significantly expand the scholarships that ensure that any student can attend and thrive at the College, regardless of family income. As the dean stated, the commitment to financial aid is inspired by its triple impact: It can change the student, the College and the world. As president of the CCAA, I am enthusiastic about this initiative and excited for our community to learn more in the months ahead.

During the pandemic’s worst, and even now, the College community stayed in touch and came together through virtual programming, most of which was created in response to Covid. Multiple outlets flourished, including speaker series and literary fora. I was fortunate to participate in many of these virtual assemblies and admired the quality of the offerings. It has been said that “necessity is the mother of invention.” But there were other aspects at play aside from rallying at a time of need. Indeed, we were reminded of the phrase “cometh the hour, cometh the man [and woman!].” It was humbling for us to see the outpouring of energy and enthusiasm from our alumni community during the last year and a half. Volunteers gave that much more in whatever capacity they could.

As we look ahead to a new year, we’ll retain some virtual programming. Planning is also underway for our annual events and traditions, including Homecoming and Columbia Reunion. Look for more information as these milestones approach.

On another note, we are thrilled to welcome nine new CCAA Board of Directors members to their initial two-year term, which began on July 1. These alumni have been stalwart in their support of the College, and we are pleased to have such an interesting and dedicated group. They live as close as the Upper West Side and as far as São Paulo.

• Uchenna Acholonu Jr. ’96
• Armond Adams ’06
• Nihara Choudhri ’96, LAW’99
• Michael Lee ’96
• Diana Nasser ’87
• Heather Ruddock ’88
• Khadijah Sharif-Drinkard ’93
• Matthew Sodl ’88
• Zahrah Taufique ’09, BUS’15, PS’15

There are myriad ways to get involved with Columbia, and I encourage you to seek them out (college.columbia.edu/alumni). We are particularly excited about Homecoming, scheduled for Saturday, October 16. We hope to see you in the weeks and months ahead!