For those who weren’t at Homecoming this year, let me paint a scene: I drove to Robert K. Kraft Field from Boston that morning. It promised to be a great day — cool, crisp weather and, just as important, no traffic (or tickets) during the three-hour trip. The Big Tent hummed with the comings and goings of hundreds of people — alumni, students and their families, many wearing an impressively diverse array of Columbia gear. Hellos were called out, lunch plates were heaped full with barbecue sandwiches, pasta salad and corn on the cob. Outside the tent, the youngest attendees tested their skill at a variety of games at the Homecoming Carnival. It wasn’t long before I found my brother Eric Wolf ’86, his son, Adam, and my former roommate Rob Daniel ’88. Our gathering quickly turned into a mini-Carman 9 reunion including Houston’s Sean Wright ’88 and Long Island’s Rich Ritter ’88.
Around the inside perimeter of the tent, shared interest groups manned tables to spread the word about their activities. Among these was our Columbia College Alumni Association table, laden with stuffed lions, our proud mascot. The lions sported spirited shirts — navy with our new CCAA logo — and they were as popular as ever. Kids clamored for them. Students pocketed them, literally, turning them into accessories that stuck out of back pockets and shirt pockets and even shirt collars. And then there were the alumni: Some took a lion without hesitation; others felt compelled to offer an explanation for why they wanted the little guy. There were even a few embarrassed-seeming outliers who circled the tent, coming closer to our table with each pass, until finally they asked for one (or two).
But there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. That’s CC Pride. And it’s not limited to Homecoming. It’s here to stay.
Columbia College is having a great moment and it is hard not to notice. Admissions applications are at an all-time high, and Columbia occupies a lofty perch in those ubiquitous college and university rankings. Beyond those numbers, however, I feel the buzz and see the signs of Columbia Pride in many places, from my Class of ’88 Facebook group with its streams of Columbia celebration postings, to being asked in response to my garb, “Did you also go to Columbia?” Reunions have had record attendance in recent years, gatherings of College alumni both formal and informal are springing up all over the world with increasing frequency and the online social scene is growing by leaps and bounds.
Dean James J. Valentini likes to say we are the greatest college in the greatest university in the greatest city in the world, and the Columbia College nation is embracing that. The CCAA numbers tell the story, with 150 meetings, programs and events expected during the 2015–16 academic year. More than 8,000 alumni participated in an event or program last year, with 3,500 involved as active volunteers. We have a bit more than 7,200 Facebook likes, which does not include the many Columbia-based affiliate groups online. We have also almost doubled the number of unique visitors to our website (college.columbia.edu/alumni) in the past year.
Columbia Pride has grown not only within the alumni base but also among students. A visit to campus finds students awash in College colors. I hear from parents that their students rave about the Columbia experience. Recently, a friend’s son questioned whether to apply but after connecting with a current student for an overnight stay, he immediately submitted an early decision application.
We should all take great pride in the accomplishments and contributions of our current and former students. There was a great turnout at Valentini’s College session during Alumni Leaders Weekend in October, where Mike Cook ’65 was presented the President’s Cup for his tireless work on his class’ hugely successful 50th reunion. Session attendees also heard from Yvonne Hsiao ’16, who spoke about her summer experience in California working with the International Medical Corps — an opportunity offered by the Columbia College Alumni-Sponsored Student Internship Program — provided by Margaret Traub ’88, head of IMC’s Global Initiatives. And there were opportunities to interact with more than a dozen current students from a range of majors and backgrounds, each one already extremely accomplished, and it was clear that the alumni who attended were impressed.
As part of the CCAA Pride campaign, we are hoping to build on this excitement (and have some fun) with our CCAA lion. If you picked up a lion at Homecoming, please take it with you on your adventures and send us photos. Feel free to include yourself or your family in the photos. Please send them to us via Facebook’s Messenger feature (facebook.com/alumnicc), post them on your own page or group pages and use the hashtag #CCPride or email them to the Alumni Office: email@example.com. If you don’t yet have a lion, never fear; they will be available at upcoming CCAA events.
ROAR, LION, ROAR!
Published quarterly by the Columbia College Office of Alumni Affairs and Development for alumni, students, faculty, parents and friends of Columbia College.