Columbia University

Coordinates: 40°48′27″N 73°57′43″W / 40.80750°N 73.96194°W / 40.80750; -73.96194
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Columbia University
NCAA Division I FCS – Ivy League
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    Columbia University, officially titled as Columbia University in the City of New York, is a private Ivy League research university in New York City. Established in 1754 as King's College on the grounds of Trinity Church in Manhattan, it is the oldest institution of higher education in New York, the fifth-oldest in the United States, and one of nine colonial colleges founded prior to the Declaration of Independence.

    Columbia was established by

    Morningside Heights
    and renamed Columbia University.

    Columbia scientists and scholars have played a pivotal role in scientific breakthroughs including

    brain-computer interface; the laser and maser;[9][10] nuclear magnetic resonance;[11] the first nuclear pile; the first nuclear fission reaction in the Americas; the first evidence for plate tectonics and continental drift;[12][13][14] and much of the initial research and planning for the Manhattan Project during World War II

    Columbia is organized into twenty schools, including four undergraduate schools and 16 graduate schools. The university's research efforts include the Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory, the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and accelerator laboratories with Big Tech firms such as Amazon and IBM.[15][16] Columbia is a founding member of the Association of American Universities and was the first school in the United States to grant the MD degree.[17] The university also annually administers the Pulitzer Prize. With over 15 million volumes, Columbia University Library is the third-largest private research library in the United States.[18]

    The university's endowment stands at $13.3 billion in 2022,

    22 Olympic medalists;[61] 33 Academy Award winners
    ; and 125 Pulitzer Prize recipients.


    Colonial period

    president of Columbia

    Discussions regarding the founding of a college in the

    state lottery towards the foundation of a college.[63]

    Classes were initially held in July 1754 and were presided over by the college's first president,

    State of New York and the fifth oldest in the United States.[17]

    In 1763, Johnson was succeeded in the presidency by Myles Cooper, a graduate of The Queen's College, Oxford, and an ardent Tory. In the charged political climate of the American Revolution, his chief opponent in discussions at the college was an undergraduate of the class of 1777, Alexander Hamilton.[65]: 3  The Irish anatomist, Samuel Clossy, was appointed professor of natural philosophy in October 1765 and later the college's first professor of anatomy in 1767.[68] The American Revolutionary War broke out in 1776, and was catastrophic for the operation of King's College, which suspended instruction for eight years beginning in 1776 with the arrival of the Continental Army. The suspension continued through the military occupation of New York City by British troops until their departure in 1783. The college's library was looted and its sole building requisitioned for use as a military hospital first by American and then British forces.[69][70]

    18th century

    After the Revolution, the college turned to the

    Columbia College",[64] a reference to Columbia, an alternative name for America which in turn comes from the name of Christopher Columbus. The Regents finally became aware of the college's defective constitution in February 1787 and appointed a revision committee, which was headed by John Jay and Alexander Hamilton. In April of that same year, a new charter was adopted for the college granted the power to a separate board of 24 trustees.[71]
    : 65–70 

    The 1797 Taylor Map of New York City, showing "The College" at its Park Place (then Robinson Street) location. Note earlier location, Trinity Church
    , lower left.

    On May 21, 1787,

    Federalist governments, a revived Columbia thrived under the auspices of Federalists such as Hamilton and Jay. President George Washington and Vice President John Adams, in addition to both houses of Congress attended the college's commencement on May 6, 1789, as a tribute of honor to the many alumni of the school who had been involved in the American Revolution.[64]
    : 74 

    19th century to present

    In November 1813, the college agreed to incorporate its medical school with The College of Physicians and Surgeons, a new school created by the Regents of New York, forming

    Teachers College, as a school to prepare home economists and manual art teachers for the children of the poor, with philanthropist Grace Hoadley Dodge.[62] Teachers College is currently affiliated as the university's Graduate School of Education.[75]

    Research into the atom by faculty members John R. Dunning, I. I. Rabi, Enrico Fermi and Polykarp Kusch placed Columbia's physics department in the international spotlight in the 1940s after the first nuclear pile was built to start what became the Manhattan Project.[76] In 1928, Seth Low Junior College was established by Columbia University in order to mitigate the number of Jewish applicants to Columbia College.[62][77] The college was closed in 1936 due to the adverse effects of the Great Depression and its students were subsequently taught at Morningside Heights, although they did not belong to any college but to the university at large.[78][79]

    There was an evening school called University Extension, which taught night classes, for a fee, to anyone willing to attend. In 1947, the program was reorganized as an undergraduate college and designated the

    non-traditional students (those who have had an academic break of one year or more, or are pursuing dual-degrees) and was fully integrated into Columbia's traditional undergraduate curriculum.[81] Within the same year, the Division of Special Programs—later the School of Continuing Education, and now the School of Professional Studies—was established to reprise the former role of University Extension.[82] While the School of Professional Studies only offered non-degree programs for lifelong learners and high school students in its earliest stages, it now offers degree programs in a diverse range of professional and inter-disciplinary fields.[83]

    In the aftermath of World War II, the discipline of international relations became a major scholarly focus of the university, and in response, the

    School of International and Public Affairs was founded in 1946, drawing upon the resources of the faculties of political science, economics, and history.[84] The Columbia University Bicentennial was celebrated in 1954.[85]

    During the 1960s

    Grayson Kirk, and the establishment of the University Senate.[86][87]

    Though several schools within the university had admitted women for years, Columbia College first admitted women in the fall of 1983,[88] after a decade of failed negotiations with Barnard College, the all-female institution affiliated with the university, to merge the two schools.[89] Barnard College still remains affiliated with Columbia, and all Barnard graduates are issued diplomas signed by the presidents of Columbia University and Barnard College.[90]

    During the late 20th century, the university underwent significant academic, structural, and administrative changes as it developed into a major research university. For much of the 19th century, the university consisted of decentralized and separate faculties specializing in Political Science, Philosophy, and Pure Science. In 1979, these faculties were merged into the

    School of International and Public Affairs, which was previously a part of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, became an independent faculty.[92]


    Morningside Heights

    The majority of Columbia's graduate and undergraduate studies are conducted in

    Morningside Heights on Seth Low's late-19th century vision of a university campus where all disciplines could be taught at one location. The campus was designed along Beaux-Arts planning principles by the architects McKim, Mead & White. Columbia's main campus occupies more than six city blocks, or 32 acres (13 ha), in Morningside Heights, New York City, a neighborhood that contains a number of academic institutions. The university owns over 7,800 apartments in Morningside Heights, housing faculty, graduate students, and staff. Almost two dozen undergraduate dormitories (purpose-built or converted) are located on campus or in Morningside Heights. Columbia University has an extensive tunnel system, more than a century old, with the oldest portions predating the present campus. Some of these remain accessible to the public, while others have been cordoned off.[93]


    Columbia's library system includes over 15.0 million volumes, making it the eighth largest library system and fifth largest collegiate library system in the United States.[18]

    Several buildings on the Morningside Heights campus are listed on the

    Union Theological Seminary

    A statue by sculptor

    Columbia University protests of 1968 a bomb damaged the sculpture, but it has since been repaired.[102] The small hidden owl on the sculpture is also the subject of many Columbia legends, the main legend being that the first student in the freshmen class to find the hidden owl on the statue will be valedictorian, and that any subsequent Columbia male who finds it will marry a Barnard student, given that Barnard is a women's college.[103][104]

    "The Steps", alternatively known as "Low Steps" or the "Urban Beach", are a popular meeting area for Columbia students. The term refers to the long series of granite steps leading from the lower part of campus (South Field) to its upper terrace. With a design inspired by the

    Panoramic view of the Morningside Heights campus as seen from Butler Library and facing Low Memorial Library