University President Lee C. Bollinger Announces the Columbia Commitment

President Lee C. Bollinger
May 11, 2017

The following is a portion of a letter that was originally published on the Columbia Commitment website.

For the more than 260 years since its foundation, Columbia has been in a state of perpetual evolution, yet always ensuring that each successive generation of students and professors have the tools they need to contribute to the body of knowledge and help solve some of the world’s greatest problems and dilemmas.

While each generation has faced its own set of issues, arguably none has confronted problems of the complexity and scale that we face today. For at the same time as globalization has connected markets and provided instant access to massive amounts of information, it has also given rise to challenges that spread swiftly across borders—from our warming planet, to dangerous and disruptive inequality, to deadly pandemics, to the largest wave of displaced people since the Second World War. Meanwhile, the institutions and norms established in the 20th century to address such problems have proven sadly inadequate.

If we at Columbia are to live up to our mission of engaging in the world and embracing the responsibility that comes with our tremendous capacity, we must continue to invest in the research that has made the University into the extraordinary institution it is today, and the students and faculty who are its engines. But given the unique challenges facing our society, that in itself will not be sufficient. We also must accelerate our efforts to work across disciplines and all knowledge, and to collaborate with partners beyond academia, to solve the unprecedented problems our generation faces. This will be the focus of the new Columbia World Projects—an initiative that we will be launching this fall.

In sum, the Columbia Commitment is more than a commitment to the University. It is a renewal of our bonds with the world and our shared future. And it is a commitment that we cannot meet without your help. To prepare Columbia to take on unprecedented challenges, we will need your support. Our website will tell you more about this effort and how you can be a part of it. I hope you will join us.


Lee C. Bollinger