Message from the Dean

Finding Your Groove

This semester, we welcomed the Class of 2022 to Columbia College. New Student Orientation Program leaders, a group of dedicated and enthusiastic student volunteers, greeted families on College Walk and walked the students to their new homes. It was a busy day, filled with introductions, activities and, eventually, some bittersweet goodbyes.


This year, student leaders selected “Find Your Groove” as their orientation theme. They wanted to convey to incoming students that the College offers many opportunities for finding your identity and settling into your new community. When I became dean of the College seven years ago, I found an unanticipated groove. Though I had been a member of the chemistry faculty for more than 20 years, being dean offered a much broader engagement with Columbia students and faculty than I had previously experienced. As I transitioned into my new role, my eyes and mind opened up to many possibilities. And what I found was exceptional.

You’ve heard me say that Columbia is the greatest college in the greatest university in the greatest city in the world. I believe that to be true because the greatness of an educational institution is really measured by the opportunities it affords, and by that measure Columbia College is remarkable.

One such measure can be seen in our Core to Commencement campaign, the first campaign exclusively devoted to Columbia College’s students and faculty. When we launched this effort two and a half years ago, we set out to enhance every part of the undergraduate experience to ensure it was the best possible. We have had tremendous success. Alumni, parents and friends have rallied in support of a shared belief that the College is an institution that will help shape the future of society. The campaign has secured new endowed professorships, created almost 1,000 funded summer experiences and established initiatives that increase the offerings to undergraduates in both business and the field of civil and political rights.


Recently we decided to expand Core to Commencement to a goal of $750 million, from our original goal of $400 million. The campaign will continue to raise support for faculty and students while enhancing wellness and community, increasing the real-world experiences students will have beyond the classroom and developing greater access and support for all students. It will also propel the Core Curriculum — as we approach its centennial in 2019 — in order to extend the experience and its imprint into the next 100 years.

We hope we can continue to count on your commitment to support the growth of this great institution. Visit college.columbia.edu/campaign to learn more about our campaign, about our vision and about why this is the moment to support our future. An education at Columbia College can prepare thousands of young people each year to help build a better world not just for themselves, but also for us all.





James J. Valentini
Dean