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News Briefs

Josef Sorett Appointed College Dean


Diane Bondareff

President Lee C. Bollinger announced on May 24 that Professor Josef Sorett will be the next dean of Columbia College and vice president of undergraduate education, effective July 1. Sorett, who has been teaching at the College since 2009, is a professor of religion and African American and African diaspora studies, chair of the Department of Religion and director of the Center on African-American Religion, Sexual Politics and Social Justice. He earned a B.S. in health and exercise science from Oral Roberts University, an M.Div. in religion and literature from Boston University and a Ph.D. in African American studies from Harvard.

Sorett’s scholarship explores the vital and complex role that religion has played in shaping the cultures of Black communities and movements in the United States. His 2016 book, Spirit in the Dark: A Religious History of Racial Aesthetics, examines the influence of religion on debates about Black art and culture in the 20th century. His latest work is The Sexual Politics of Black Churches.

Sorett was presented the Presidential Award for Outstanding Teaching at this year’s Commencement, held on May 18.

Trilling and Van Doren Awards

Farah Jasmine Griffin, the William B. Ransford Professor of English and Comparative Literature and African American Studies, was honored with the 47th annual Lionel Trilling Book Award for her nonfiction book Read Until You Understand: The Profound Wisdom of Black Life and Literature (2021). Griffin was the inaugural chair of the African American and African Diaspora Studies Department. She is a 2021 Guggenheim Fellow and an Andrew Mellon Foundation Scholar in Residence.

David Lurie GSAS’01, the Wm. Theodore and Fanny Brett de Bary and Class of 1941 Collegiate Professor of Asian Humanities and an associate professor of Japanese history and literature, was presented the 61st annual Mark Van Doren Award for Teaching. Lurie was recognized for his dedication and his nuanced approaches to the Core Curriculum; students regard Lurie as a “captivating lecturer with a deep passion for [his] work on East Asian Languages and Culture.”

Enhancements to Undergraduate Financial Aid

In April, the College announced several enhancements to financial aid for students and families. Beginning in the 2022–23 academic year, families with typical assets and incomes below $66,000 will not be expected to contribute to the cost of their student’s education. In addition, students from families with typical assets and incomes up to $150,000 will attend Columbia tuition-free.

“These enhancements will expand access for a new generation of Columbians, increasing opportunity for students who show the promise to thrive in our environment and the curiosity and commitment to take full advantage of all the possibilities we offer,” said Jessica Marinaccio, dean of undergraduate admissions and financial aid. In addition, beginning in summer 2022, the College will offer new $2,000 start-up grants for low-income first-year students. These funds, made possible through a generous donor gift, are designed to help incoming students cover a portion of the cost associated with starting their undergraduate journey.

Guridy Named Next Executive Director of the Holder Initiative


Frank Guridy, associate professor of history and of African American and African diaspora studies, will become the next executive director and senior scholar of The Eric H. Holder Jr. Initiative for Civil and Political Rights on July 1. Named for its co-founder, former U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. ’73, LAW’76, the Holder Initiative sponsors courses, public events, internships and fellowships that extend the themes and questions of the Core Curriculum into a contemporary context. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be the next director of the Holder Initiative,” Guridy says. “I am especially excited to continue fulfilling the program’s mission to combine humanistic thinking with outward-facing social justice work here in New York City. I look forward to working with Columbia students and our surrounding communities to create visions for racial and environmental justice, voting and labor rights, equitable housing and public health. I believe that students at Columbia are well positioned to address the challenges faced by the city in which they live and study.”

Class of 2026 Admission Decisions

Following another year of extraordinary application numbers, 2,253 students have been offered admission to the Class of 2026 by Columbia College and Columbia Engineering.

Undergraduate Admissions announced final applicant numbers in March, which reflect a combination of applications received during the early decision and regular decision cycles. The schools received a total of 60,377 applications, virtually unchanged from last year’s historic 51 percent increase to 60,551 applications. This year’s admission rate was 3.73 percent.

The admitted class hails from all 50 states and 86 countries. Reflecting the growing diversity of Columbia’s student body, the number of admitted students who identified as students of color increased by 4 percent over last year and first-generation students increased by 3 percent.