News Briefs

University Names Minouche Shafik 20th President


Nemat “Minouche” Shafik, an economist whose career has been focused on public policy and academia, will become the 20th president of Columbia University — and the first woman to lead the University — on July 1. Her election by the Board of Trustees concluded a wide-ranging and intensive search following President Lee C. Bollinger’s announcement that he would step down at the end of the 2022–23 academic year.

In a letter to the community, Jonathan S. Lavine ’88, chair of the Trustees, called Shafik “the perfect candidate: a brilliant and able global leader, a community builder and a preeminent economist who understands the academy and the world beyond it.”

Most recently, Shafik was president of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), a role she held since 2017. There, she oversaw vast improvements to the student experience, recruited talented academic leaders and managed significant expansion and infrastructure projects. She is a tireless proponent of diversity and inclusion and a creative and thoughtful leader commit- ted to cultivating and promoting service to the public good.

Shafik has edited, co-authored or authored numerous articles and books, including her most recent work, What We Owe Each Other: A New Social Contract. She was also the first female leader of LSE and was the first female permanent secretary of the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development. She began her career at the World Bank, and at 36 became its youngest VP.

Born in Alexandria, Egypt, Shafik earned a B.A. in economics and politics from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, an M.S. in economics from LSE and a Ph.D. in economics from St Antony’s College, Oxford University.

In an interview with Columbia News, Shafik affirmed her commitment to the Core Curriculum, which she described as providing the “foundation for citizenship” and cultivating in people the “capacity to think for themselves.” She added that she looks forward to engaging with students, whom she said are “important partners in thinking about how to improve the student experience, what their education should encompass, as well as participating in the research and the intellectual life of the University.”

New Trustees Co-Chairs




Claire Shipman ’86, SIPA’94 and David Greenwald LAW ’83 will be the next co-chairs of the Board of Trustees, the University announced in May. The two are currently vice-chairs, and will assume their new roles on September 1, when Jonathan S. Lavine ’88 concludes his five- year term as chair. (Lavine was co-chair with Lisa Carnoy ’89 from 2018 to 2022.)

Among their many contributions to Columbia, Shipman and Greenwald recently served on the Presidential Search Committee that oversaw the process of selecting Minouche Shafik as President Lee C. Bollinger’s successor. In addition, Shipman received the 2022 Alexander Hamilton Medal, the highest honor awarded to a member of the Columbia College community, which recognizes distinguished service to the College and accomplishment in any field of endeavor.

“It’s one of the great privileges of my life to serve Columbia in this role,” said Shipman, a journalist, author and public speaker who is an expert on confidence and women’s leadership. “My life was transformed by the University, as is the case for thousands of students each year. Today, Columbia’s dedication to cutting-edge research, to the pursuit of knowledge and to tackling the great problems of humanity makes it one of the world’s most vital institutions.”

Trilling and Van Doren Awards



Hamid Dabashi, the Hagop Kevorkian Professor of Iranian Studies and Comparative Literature, and Achille C. Varzi, the John Dewey Professor of Philosophy, have been honored with the 48th annual Lionel Trilling Book Award and the 62nd annual Mark Van Doren Award for Teaching, respectively. The awards are given annually by the Academic Awards Committee of the Columbia College Student Council.

Dabashi, the director of undergraduate studies for the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies, was selected for his book The End of Two Illusions: Islam after the West (2022). The committee noted that it appreciated “the multidimensional view provided by the remarkable balance between cogent analyses of contemporary phenomena and deep dives into history and culture.”

Varzi, who teaches an array of undergraduate and graduate classes in logic, metaphysics, the philosophy of language and the history of philosophy, was recognized as an “enthralling lecturer.” The committee further noted that he invests “significant amounts of time, thought and resources into creating an optimal learning environment for his students, paving the way for pedagogical exploration and unforgettable experiences during their time at Columbia.”

CCW Celebrates Entrepreneurship

Maya Villasenor SEAS’24 (center) made the winning presentation in the rapid-fire pitch competition; here, she receives her team’s prize from the judges and CCW executive board members.


More than 100 attendees turned out for the annual Columbia College Women’s Signature Event, held this year on March 24 at Faculty House. The gathering, which celebrated entrepreneurship and empowerment, was headlined by an exclusive talk with Kathleen King, founder of Tate’s Bake Shop, and Nancy Pak ’90, BUS’95, CEO of Walden Local Meat and former CEO of Tate’s.

The event also featured a rapid-fire pitch contest, in which entrepreneurs and their teams from across Columbia’s schools competed Shark Tank-style. The entries were judged by King and Pak as well as Sherri Pancer Wolf ’90, president of the Columbia College Alumni Association; Professor R.A. Farrokhnia GS’00, BUS’04; and Roxann Smithers ’99, LAW’02.

The judges’ winner and recipient of a $2,000 prize was Paper Planes, presented by Maya Villasenor SEAS’24. The audience-selected winner and recipient of private coaching sessions by the judges was Argonauts, presented by Elsa Johnson SPS’24.

The event concluded with a chance to network and visit pop-ups staged by Columbia entrepreneurs. Food, law, marketing, and health and beauty were among the industries represented.

West Coast Honors


Honorees, clockwise from top left: Mohan, Stone, Lilly and Zappacosta.

The Columbia College Alumni Association and Dean Josef Sorett kicked off the inaugural West Coast Honors in March, introducing two awards that will annually celebrate members of the College’s West Coast community. The Trailblazer Award honors individuals for their pioneering and distinguished service or volunteerism to the College, and the Spirit of Creativity and Innovation Award is for exceptional professional achievement.

The 2023 Trailblazer Award went to Vijay Mohan ’01, co-founder and partner, Sixth Street; and James Stone ’90, BUS’96, head of West Coast Investment, PennantPark. The Spirit of Creativity and Innovation Award went to Courtney Lilly ’97, executive producer and showrunner of the ABC sitcoms black-ish, grown-ish and mixed-ish; and Marco Zappacosta ’07, co-founder and CEO of Thumbtack. The honorees were celebrated at two events: in San Francisco on March 15 and in Los Angeles on March 16. More than 150 alumni and guests attended.

Class of 2027 Admissions Decisions

A total of 2,246 students were offered admission to the Class of 2027 by Columbia College and Columbia Engineering. Undergraduate Admissions announced final application numbers in March, which reflect a combination of applications received during the early decision and regular decision cycles. The schools received a total of 57,129 applications, the third largest applicant pool in Columbia’s history. This year’s admission rate was 3.9 percent.

The admitted class hails from all 50 states (as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and American Samoa, and the Mariana Islands, Marshall Islands and U.S. Virgin Islands) and 101 countries.