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Columbia and Kenneth Cole Partner on Groundbreaking Community Engagement Program for Undergraduates

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fashion designer Kenneth Cole is joining with Columbia College and The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science to announce a groundbreaking initiative to encourage students to become agents of social change. The program, featuring undergraduate fellowships in community-based initiatives as well as classroom study, will help prepare students to make meaningful, sustainable change by developing practical approaches to challenges and opportunities faced by participating communities.

“I am enthusiastic about working with Columbia, one of the nation’s most esteemed universities, on a project intended to inspire its talented student body and empower them with the necessary tools to make meaningful and sustainable differences in their respective communities," said Kenneth Cole.
The Kenneth Cole Community Engagement Program launches this fall semester. During the year-long program, Kenneth Cole Fellows will take part in community-building projects and practical learning experiences designed to make them problem solvers and instruments of social innovation. The two schools will collaborate with Columbia’s Center for Career Education and Division of Student Affairs to develop the curriculum.
“We wish to express our deepest gratitude to Kenneth Cole for recognizing the importance of instruction that extends beyond the classroom and impacts our greater community,” said Michele Moody-Adams, dean of Columbia College. “We are confident that Kenneth Cole Fellows will have the unique opportunity to enrich their own learning experiences while discovering the important role each of us plays in making a difference in the local and global communities to which we are all responsible.”
The new program and fellowships enhance Columbia’s long history of community and public service. Hands-on engagement in the local, national and global communities is an essential part of academic and professional life at the university. Students, faculty and staff work to address environmental and social challenges, as well as the needs of underserved communities in health care, education and social entrepreneurship. Generations of alumni have served in government and public service, matching their professional accomplishments with civic commitment. And thousands of staff members contribute time and resources to their community, through university-organized programs as well as through their own initiatives.
Columbia College’s unique Core Curriculum emphasizes a well-rounded undergraduate education that not only helps students develop their critical thinking skills, but also nurtures in them the responsibilities of citizenship in a democratic society. At the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, incoming freshmen are immediately involved in community-based learning programs.
“Kenneth Cole’s commitment to community engagement complements our school’s mission to educate socially responsible engineering and applied science leaders,” said Feniosky Peña-Mora, dean of Columbia Engineering. “We are grateful that he is providing this meaningful and valuable opportunity for both Columbia students and our community.”
In addition to taking two required courses, Kenneth Cole Fellows will participate in co-curricular programming including workshops, colloquia, and an annual civic-engagement forum. Over the summer, fellows will complete internships with community-based organizations, local businesses, or not-for-profit entities in high-need communities with the goals of building community, addressing local problems and encouraging social activism. To complement their summer projects, students will participate in a unique living-learning arrangement in Columbia’s residence halls.
Kenneth Cole is the founder, chairman and chief creative officer of Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc. He and his company are known for employing messages of social responsibility in the design and marketing of their products and for supporting organizations addressing social issues. He has long been committed to social activism and to inspiring others to make a difference. In 2002, Cole launched a similar program for students at his alma mater, Emory University. Collaboration between programs at both institutions is envisioned.
Fellows will be selected from among Columbia College and Columbia Engineering undergraduate students on an annual basis. Questions regarding application to or participation in the program should be directed to Todd Smith, associate dean of student affairs, at
About Columbia University
A leading academic and research university, Columbia University continually seeks to advance the frontiers of knowledge and to foster a campus community deeply engaged in understanding and addressing the complex global issues of our time. Columbia’s extensive public service initiatives, cultural collaborations, and community partnerships help define the University’s underlying values and mission to educate students to be both leading scholars and informed, engaged citizens. Founded in 1754 as King’s College, Columbia University in the City of New York is the fifth oldest institution of higher learning in the United States.
About Kenneth Cole

Kenneth Cole is chairman and chief creative officer of Kenneth Cole Productions, Inc., which designs, sources and markets a broad range of footwear, handbags, apparel and accessories. Cole is also the chairman of amfAR, the largest not-for-profit AIDS research foundation; a founding board member of HELP USA, the leading national provider of housing and jobs for the homeless; and a longstanding board member of the Sundance Institute.