Monday, March 23, 2015

Columbia University in the City of New York

Columbia University in the City of New York, or simply Columbia University, is an American private Ivy League research university located in Morningside Heights, in Upper Manhattan, New York City. It is the oldest institution of higher learning in the State of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution.[4] Today the university operates Columbia Global Centers overseas in Amman, Beijing, Istanbul, Paris, Mumbai, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago and Nairobi.[5]
The university was founded in 1754 as King's College by royal charter of George II of Great Britain. After the American Revolutionary War, King's College briefly became a state entity, and was renamed Columbia College in 1784. The University now operates under a 1787 charter that places the institution under a private board of trustees, and in 1896 it was further renamed Columbia University.[6] That same year, the university's campus was moved from Madison Avenue to its current location in Morningside Heights, where it occupies more than six city blocks, or 32 acres (13 ha).[7]
The university encompasses twenty schools and is affiliated with numerous institutions, including Teachers College (which is Columbia University's Graduate School of Education), Barnard College, and the Union Theological Seminary, with joint undergraduate programs available through the Jewish Theological Seminary of America as well as the Juilliard School.[8]
Columbia annually administers the Pulitzer Prize.[9] 101 Nobel Prize laureates have been affiliated with the university as students, faculty, or staff. Columbia is one of the fourteen founding members of the Association of American Universities, and was the first school in the United States to grant the M.D. degree.[6][10] Notable alumni and former students of the university and its predecessor, King's College, include five Founding Fathers of the United States; nine Justices of the United States Supreme Court;[11] 43 Nobel Prize laureates;[12] 20 living billionaires;[13] 29 Academy Award winners;[14] and 29 heads of state, including three United States Presidents.[15]

History

King's College (1754–1784)

King's College Hall, 1770
Discussions regarding the founding of a college in the Province of New York began as early as 1704, when Colonel Lewis Morris wrote to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, the missionary arm of the Church of England, persuading the society that New York City was an ideal community in which to establish a college;[16] however, not until the founding of Princeton University across the Hudson River in New Jersey did the City of New York seriously consider founding a college.[16] In 1746 an act was passed by the general assembly of New York to raise funds for the foundation of a new college. In 1751, the assembly appointed a commission of ten New York residents, seven of whom were members of the Church of England, to direct the funds accrued by the state lottery towards the foundation of a college.[17]
Classes were initially held in July 1754 and were presided over by the college's first president, Dr. Samuel Johnson.[18] Dr. Johnson was the only instructor of the college's first class, which consisted of a mere eight students. Instruction was held in a new schoolhouse adjoining Trinity Church, located on what is now lower Broadway in Manhattan.[19] The college was officially founded on October 31, 1754, as King's College by royal charter of King George II, making it the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York and the fifth oldest in the United States.[6]
In 1763, Dr. 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.[20] 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.[21][22] Loyalists were forced to abandon their King's College in New York, which was seized by the rebels and renamed Columbia University. The Loyalists, led by Bishop Charles Inglis fled to Windsor, Nova Scotia, where they founded what is now the University of King's College.

Columbia College (1784–1896)

The Gothic Revival Law School building on the Madison Avenue campus
After the Revolution, the college turned to the State of New York in order to restore its vitality, promising to make whatever changes to the school's charter the state might demand.[23] The Legislature agreed to assist the college, and on May 1, 1784, it passed "an Act for granting certain privileges to the College heretofore called King's College."[24] The Act created a Board of Regents to oversee the resuscitation of King's College, and, in an effort to demonstrate its support for the new Republic, the Legislature stipulated that "the College within the City of New York heretofore called King's College be forever hereafter called and known by the name of Columbia College,"[24] a reference to Columbia, an alternative name for America. 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, still in use today, granting power to a private board of 24 Trustees.[25]
On May 21, 1787, William Samuel Johnson, the son of Dr. Samuel Johnson, was unanimously elected President of Columbia College. Prior to serving at the university, Johnson had participated in the First Continental Congress and been chosen as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention.[26] For a period in the 1790s, with New York City as the federal and state capital and the country under successive Federalist governments, a revived Columbia thrived under the auspices of Federalists such as Hamilton and Jay. Both President George Washington and Vice President John Adams 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.[27]
The Library at Columbia University, ca. 1900
The college's enrollment, structure, and academics stagnated for the majority of the 19th century, with many of the college presidents doing little to change the way that the College functioned. In 1857, the College moved from Park Place to a primarily Gothic Revival campus on 49th Street and Madison Avenue, where it remained for the next fifty years. During the last half of the 19th century, under the leadership of President F.A.P. Barnard, the institution rapidly assumed the shape of a modern university.[28] By this time, the College's investments in New York real estate became a primary source of steady income for the school, mainly owing to the city's rapidly expanding population.[29]

Columbia University (1896–present)

In 1896, the trustees officially authorized the use of yet another new name, Columbia University, and today the institution is officially known as "Columbia University in the City of New York." At the same time, university president Seth Low moved the campus again, from 49th Street to its present location, a more spacious campus in the developing neighborhood of Morningside Heights.[30] Under the leadership of Low's successor, Nicholas Murray Butler, who served for over four decades, Columbia rapidly became the nation's major institution for research, setting the "multiversity" model that later universities would adopt.[6]
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.[31] In 1947, to meet the needs of GIs returning from World War II, University Extension was reorganized as an undergraduate college and designated the Columbia University School of General Studies.[32]
During the 1960s Columbia experienced large-scale student activism, which reached a climax in the spring of 1968 when hundreds of students occupied various buildings on campus. The incident forced the resignation of Columbia's then President, Grayson Kirk and the establishment of the University Senate.[33][34]
Though several schools within the university had admitted women for years, Columbia College first admitted women in the fall of 1983, after a decade of failed negotiations with Barnard College, the all-female institution affiliated with the university, to merge the two schools.[35] Barnard College still remains affiliated with Columbia, and all Barnard graduates are issued diplomas authorized by both Columbia University and Barnard College.[36]




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