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Greg Wyatt '71

By Shira J. Boss, '93

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he University has come a long way from the Columbia Encyclopedia. That venerable desk reference, first published in 1935, was emblematic of how Columbia wove its name through the outside world - and, not incidentally, made some money from its brain trust. With new technology, namely the Internet, the University is venturing into a whole new frontier for outreach, and possibilities for profit.

As reported in the last issue of CCT, technology is transforming teaching and learning on campus, from high-tech classrooms to a center to teach faculty how to utilize the newfangled digital media. Columbia is also a front-runner in terms of outreach and profit, with cutting-edge projects and thoughtful marketing.

The University is taking academic publishing online, creating unique electronic journals complete with breaking news and video archives. The Electronic Publishing Initiative at Columbia "is an alternative to books and goes beyond books," says Provost Jonathan Cole '64. In addition the school has put millions into starting a for-profit Web site, Fathom, which seeks to put the intellectual environment of a University on the Web, complete with e-commerce.

To sell technology developed here, a second division of the patents and licensing office has been opened to deal exclusively with new media projects. The office is already overseeing the development of e-courses available over the Internet from the Business School and General Studies, and the University expects to expand "Columbia Online."

The horizons revealed by new media have also led the University to adopt an intellectual property policy that seeks to clarify when faculty own their ideas and when the University does, and how each is to profit from them if they are sold.

"Our new media objective is to project our core values on our terms," says Executive Vice Provost Michael Crow. "The idea is getting our content out to the broadest audience possible, and if there's profit."

About the Author: Shira J. Boss '93 is a freelance writer in New York and a frequent contributor to Columbia College Today.

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