Those Special Campus Spaces

Jörg Meyer

As a graduate student in the School of the Arts, my life revolved around Dodge Hall — through the Broadway Gates, I would go just a short distance on College Walk before hooking left and left again, up two flights to reach Dodge’s tree-shaded corner. Nearly all of my classes were there, but I lived and did my writing in Brooklyn, so my routines gave me little reason to venture out and explore campus. It was only when I began working for this magazine, going on photo shoots and hearing others’ affinity for certain spaces, that I began to discover them for myself. My introduction was further helped along by the exigencies of reunion, which calls for staff to lead activities in just about every campus nook and cranny. I remember being impressed by the stained-glass majesty of the windows in the C.V. Starr East Asian Library the first time I welcomed attendees at a dinner there.

Stunning stained glass windows make C.V. Starr East Asian Library a campus favorite.

Scott Rudd

Starr Library appeared on CCT’s 2021 list of favorite campus places, culled from alumni recollections and social media polls. This fall we’ve done another roundup, with a focus on less-traveled locales. But what makes something a favorite space? Often it’s tied to community, the places we gather to spend time together both purposefully and serendipitously. The Steps of course are an ideal instance of that, as is Butler despite its more hushed character (and no surprise, they earned the top two spots the last time around).

This newer list, though, feels defined by a different quality. It’s a bit like being let in on delicious inside intel, the way you send a friend to a favorite city with the advice, “Here’s where you really need to go.” Yes, some are places to find community, but they also offer opportunities for creativity and beauty and contemplation, if only you know where to look. We suggest starting with the Amsterdam Avenue bridge, shown in our Big Picture. (The complete list can be found here.)

Our cover story focuses on the formidable Blondel Pinnock ’90, CEO of the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corp. Restoration, for those who might not be familiar, was the first community development organization in the United States and is widely recognized as a national model. Pinnock, who is charged with leading Restoration at a critical moment in its evolution, was thoughtful about how the College inspires students to do “the good work.” We’re proud to introduce her to readers.

Elsewhere in the issue, we see more of the good work Columbians are involved in, including that of Emily Drabinski ’97, current president of the American Library Association. Drabinski is an important and ardent voice for library workers on the front lines in the increasingly urgent battle for the right to read, and we welcome her leadership. Then we take a field trip to Central Park with Professor Steven L. Goldstein ’76, GSAS’86, who showcases the geological history that can be found right in New Yorkers’ backyard.

I’d also encourage you not to miss our “Roar, Lion, Roar” feature about Al Kachadurian BUS’48, likely the last surviving member of the celebrated Lions football team that beat Army in 1947. Kachadurian, who caught an interception in that game, recalls what it was like being part of one of the great upsets in College football history. It’s a fun account, and we thank the excellent Charles Butler ’85, JRN’99 for bringing it to our pages.

And speaking of campus and community, we welcome our newest Lions, the Class of 2027, to Morningside. We know this fantastic group of first-years will be finding their own favorite places soon.

Enjoy the issue!

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Alexis Boncy SOA’11