Leonidas (Sovern and Cole)
[ Edit | View ]
Date Posted: 00:46:17 02/07/17 Tue
Sovern was president from 1980 to 1993. He took the College co-ed when Barnard wouldn't merge, and with the opening of Shapiro Hall in 1987 he made Columbia College fully residential for all four years for the first time in history, a huge achievement given NY real estate constraints and permitting Columbia to compete for the best students nationally and internationally. Until then Columbia denied housing to 15% or more of the first year class and to most transfer students, which was a huge competitive disadvantage.
Cole was provost from 1989 to 2003 and lead the Enlargement and Enhancement initiative that grew the College and Engineering to their present size. He recognized that Columbia could not be a first rank university without a first rank undergraduate college, and he put together and led the plan that achieved that goal. Thanks to this initiative, Lerner Hall was opened in 1999 and Broadway Hall in 2000, among other successes.
Selling off the land at Baker Field was a mistake as was selling off the Columbia Club in midtown, but only in retrospect. And as mistakes they pale in comparison to what Sovern and Cole accomplished for Columbia College, which was a complete reversal in its fortunes that would not have been possible for small single-sex school with insufficient housing.
In the 47 years since 1970, the nadir for Columbia, we have benefited from the best and most consistent leadership in the Ivy League. The presidents have been extremely long serving and have been very successful expanding Columbia's footprint and improving the campus and neighborhood environment. While Cole always struck me as a bit remote for a leader, his Columbia College legacy is exceptional. And Austin Quigley and James Valentini, who have led the College for 19 of the last 22 years, have also been outstanding institution builders. Let's count our blessings.
[ Post a Reply to This Message ]