Within the Family

Happy Anniversary, Core Curriculum!

photograph of Alexis Boncy

Jörg Meyer

Roll out the sheet cake and start counting candles — we’ve got 100 to light for the Core Curriculum, which is celebrating its centennial this year with all due ceremony. The guest of honor needs no introduction. Generations of alumni have gotten up close and personal with the Core, gained knowledge and insight from its teachings, and had their hearts and minds opened to new ways of looking at the world.

Here at CCT, in this and each of the next three issues, we’ll mark the milestone with features and other special content. It felt only right to begin with a conversation with President Lee C. Bollinger, who speaks powerfully to the Core’s value in raising fundamental questions about life and society, and instilling habits of mind that last a lifetime. The Core may be the signature program of the College, but as he observes, its mission resonates across all the schools of the University, and has a tremendous role to play in the nation and in the world.

Other Core touches in this issue are a playful visual take on The Odyssey, one of the signature texts of Literature Humanities, and the launch of our Core Cartoon caption contest. This installment comes courtesy of the incomparable New Yorker illustrator Edward Koren ’57. The winning caption will be announced in our Winter 2019–20 issue, with the winner receiving a print of the cartoon, signed by Koren.

We also invite you to tap into your inner muse and send us Core haiku. Your 5-7-5 stylings could be inspired by a text, a professor or any other aspect of your Core experience. A sampling from our early submissions is scattered throughout Class Notes, and more will be featured in the next three issues.

Caption contest entries and haiku both may be emailed to cct_centennial@columbia.edu.

Outside of the Core, our cover story considers the evolving eye of photojournalist Damon Winter ’97. It’s been a decade since Winter won a Pulitzer Prize for his images of Barack Obama ’83 on his historic presidential first campaign trail; today, as The New York Times’s first Op-Ed photographer, Winter is finding ways to say more with his cam- era than he ever thought possible. (Winter’s partner, Béatrice de Géa, who specializes in editorial, documentary and portrait photography, is the talent behind our cover shoot.)

We also catch up with bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz ’93, who’s built an avid fan following — as we saw at this past summer’s BookCon — among the young adult set. The prolific de la Cruz talks to us about her career in vampires, Disney villains and dystopian themes (to name just a few of her subjects!), and speaks to why she’s become such an ardent ambassador for the YA genre.

Speaking of books, for a double dose of juiciness, check out the “Columbia Forum” excerpt from Julie Satow ’96, SIPA’01’s new release, The Plaza: The Secret Life of America’s Most Famous Hotel, and our “Bookshelf ” feature about Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman ’03, SOA’09. The latter played for four years in a professional classical musical ensemble that gave faked concerts. It’s a jaw dropper of a tale.

Welcome, to all our new parents reading CCT for the first time. And to everyone else, welcome back — that fall feeling never changes; a new semester is under way!

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Alexis Boncy SOA’11
Editor-in-Chief