So, how about that capital campaign?

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kjA sharp-eyed tipster wrote in to let us know that the Columbia home page just gained a button, right below the events calendar: “Giving to Columbia.” It’s a snazzy site–Provost Brinkley, whose homepage doesn’t seem to have been updated much in 11 years, would be jealous.

It may even be better than those of Brown and Dartmouth, which are the only other Ivies to have found it necessary to, er, wear their need on their sleeves. They’re also the at the bottom of the Ivy League endowment barrel, with $2.3 and $3.5 billion each. Strangely, Dartmouth boasts the second highest alumni giving rate of the great eight, coming in behind Princeton at 50%. According to US News and World Report, Columbia and Cornell come in dead last on that one (35%). 

So…Barack must have learned it somewhere else?


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  1. DJ Quark

    lydia is so smart :)

  2. wow  

    i didn't believe the 11 years thing until i looked at the page source under the meta tag:
    CONTENT="Adobe PageMill 3.0 Win"

    pagemill 3.0 was released in 1999 and discontinued in 2000...

  3. Grammar Police

    "An sharp-eyed tipster"

    Get some editing, bwog.

  4. Princeton

    I thought, had a 67% alumni giving rate?

  5. oh ya

    that "giving to columbia" site has been there most of summer. I just assumed that it'd always been there and I didn't notice, since i don't care to give to columbia it was possible.

  6. CML Imposter

    Why do we have such a lousy donation rate? Are our alumni really that jaded after leaving here? And what makes Princeton so great that their donation rate is so high?

    • ttan imposter

      They have nothing local to unfavorably compare their Princeton experience to. Unlike us.

    • its not

      that lousy- its like 17th in the country. its just lousy compared to other ivy league schools.

      though not shockingly, the schools with the highest undergrad:total student population ratios have the bes rates. Princeton is roughly 2:3, Dartmouth is roughly 4:5. Even Harvard is only 1:3 and Yale is 1:2. Columbia by contrast is 1:3.5, 1:5 if you don't count GS.

    • And...  

      You've also got to figure in a couple generations of Columbia students who were here between 1968 and the late 1990s. Columbia's fortunes (in both senses of the word) are tied to those of New York City. When New York was a hellhole (as it was during that time), Columbia did not produce a particularly loyal set of alumni (ex. Barack Obama).

      As the city improved, so did the university. Yet because the very devoted pre-1968 generation is getting smaller and the more detached post-1968 generation is in their giving prime (so to speak), Columbia suffers financially.

      • Alum

        The real turning point was probably somewhere in the mod '80s, when the College went co-ed, Columbia was finally able to house all the undergrads who wanted to live on campus and the administration began making undergraduate life a high priority. All-male, commuter (even partially) schools just don't inspire the same kind of loyalty.

        • Harold

          Next thing you're gonna tell me is that All-male, commuter (even partially) schools just don't inspire the same kind of cat.

        • and yet

          some of Columbia College's most doggedly loyal alumni went to school when it was an all male largely commuter school.

          a lot of Columbia's "undergrad focus" is, like a lot of columbia things, a checklist rather than a palpable attitude. everything is neatly bureaucratized.

          • Alum

            Trust me, there's more to it than that. Undergrads today have it a lot better than we did twenty-plus years ago.

            At one point Nicholas Murray Butler wanted to close the College entirely and devote Columbia to graduate studies. That obviosuly didn't happen, but for a long time Columbia wasn't very user-friendly to undergrads, even by the standards of the time.

          • I'm not

            contesting that we "have it better." But the ways we "have it better" tend to be very check-list based, things Columbia can put on a power point and show alums ("New student center!" "renovated dorms!" "state of the art classroom!" etc.)

            while this is all great, at the same time they've increased the school in size by over 33% in the last decade and a half, and haven't really added full time faculty in the A&S to compensate. The administration (Student Affairs) is so focused on administrating that being an undergrad at Columbia feels like being a number.

          • Alum

            When Columbia increased the enrollment of CC it simultaneously reduced the enrollment of GSAS. Since the same professors teach in both schools and since grad students take up much more faculty time on a per-capita basis, this move substantially offset the increased number of undergrads. It therefore was not necessary to add 33% more professors when CC grew by that much. And while the faculty has not grown by 33%, it has grown substantially.

          • fair point

            nevertheless, 3 of my core classes were taught by grad students, and the fourth by a non-tenure track faculty member teaching it for the first time.

          • Alum

            Almost everyone has grad students for Art Hum and Music Hum. The faculty who could teach those classes are essentially all in the departments of art history and music, which are relatively small and can't staff very many of the 30-plus sections of each class per term with faculty members.

            Lit Hum and CC each draw their instructors from several departments, so it is easier to get tenured or tenure-track professors in those classes. Lit Hum and CC try to get an equal combination of grad students, junior faculty and senior faculty. They seldom get enough senior professors, and they tend to make up for this with grad students. If you had a prof for one of these classes and a grad student for the other then your experience was pretty typical.

            More importantly, it also would have been pretty typical twenty-plus years ago when I was an undergrad and when the College had about 3,000 students. I don't think the enlargement of the College has had much of an impact here.

  7. and...  

    we really shouldn't count GS--not because we're bigots, just in this particular case.

    • GSer

      In this particular case, I'm inclined to agree. GSers aren't fantastic about giving back to the school after we graduate, because our financial aid blows. Most of us have to take out massive loans to finance our time here, we generally get very little in grants and scholarships. So most of us emerge staring down six-digit student loans in need of repayment. And, let's face it, most of us are older than traditional college grads, so we have more societal pressure to get settled down in a good job/apartment/house asap, more of us probably have spouses and kids soon after graduation (or even during school). So hell yeah, we're going to be reluctant to throw away some more money in gifts to CU. If they would get us better financial aid packages and reduce the amount of loans we'll have to face after graduating, I'm sure the GS alums would donate more.

  8. duh

    dartmouth is fine, their school is small, so per-capita i'm sure they're right on par with the other ivies.

  9. CC '07  

    The other alum makes some good points, and I think the college is a much, much better place than it was 20 years ago, even 10. But the university still doesn't come near making the kind of commitment to its undergrads that the other ivies make, Cornell excepted. The uniform lousiness of our sports teams is an example of this.

    If you glance at a history of the university it's hard to deny that all this is the legacy of poor and misguided leadership. The best American universities--the richest, the most prestigious, the ones most people want to go to--are all built around their undergraduates, even Harvard and Stanford.

    Making Columbia more like them would take decades of strong and inspired leadership, about which I don't think anyone is particularly hopeful.

  10. 22 cont.

    One example of something that would change the tenor of the student experience at CC- Dean involvement. Quigley plays little to no role in the lives of students at Columbia. Compare that to say, Zvi, who through email and other forms maintains a strong presence and inculcates fierce school loyalty. CC by comparison is listless in its efforts, which mostly originate in student government or student affairs, which, as mentioned before, feel more like administrative efforts than something school related.

    • Alum

      I'm surprised you feel that way. Among alumni, Dean Quigley is widely viewed as being almost as good at his job as anyone could possibly be. Do most other students feel the way you do?

      • cc '07

        yea. the sentiment that quigley is uninvolved is pretty widely held. on the surface, quigley seems like a great dean. a great speaker, a whole bunch of clever banter for convocation and class, but between those two events he's basically useless. in my fours years, i received exactly one e-mail from him (and it was some trite and useless matter). quigley is a hell of a guy, but is hardly a real visible presence. i think bollinger does a much much better job of at least seeming to be visible and involved in students' lives.

      • still 22/23

        Quigley is a phenomenal Dean from a fundraising aspect. Alums adore him. Even students 'like' him, though there definitely isn't that sense of fierce personal loyalty that a lot of engineers have for Zvi for the reasons I mentioned above- he just doesn't play a role beyond the surface. Part of it is the structure of the school, which puts Colombo actually in charge of everything administrative- Quigley doesn't actually have any say in anything. But that shouldn't have limited him as it has done.

        In my experience dealing with higher ups, they seem very concerned about doing things they can tell the Alums about, what I keep calling "checklists" that they can put on neat PowerPoint slides. It's almost absurd. I've heard that when they re-designed the Columbia homepage, an overriding concern was how it would look on projector screens when shown at presentations for alumni.

        • Alum

          That Quigley lets Colombo do his own job seems appropriate, don't you think? Being Dean of the College is not the same thing as being Dean of Students. Much of Quigley's time is spent working with faculty on curricular matters, alumni on fundraising and other administrators on, well, administration. He should spend a lot of time with students, of course, but if you think falling short in this area means "he just doesn't play a role beyond the surface" you're wrong.

          • well

            Part of the problem is that Colombo acts more like the dean of "Student Affairs" (as is his title) than dean of "Students."

            While Quigley is certainly involved behind the scenes, in terms of student interaction, like the other poster I've recieved one email from him in 4 years. And that was some joint statement on illegal downloading. I saw him speak at Convocation, Commencement, Class Day, Senior Dinner, and a cameo in the Varsity Show. And he did a wonderful reading of A child's christmas in wales when I attended the Yule Log ceremony.

            I'm not trying to indict Quigley so much as illuminate what I feel is an institutional flaw- Columbia College as an institution doesn't figure prominently in students lives. Division of Student Affairs does. The Core Office/Registrar does. Student Services does. But CC itself, is not very tangible IMO. This shouldn't be the case.

            By the way I'm glad we're discussing this.

          • Alum

            That is indeed a problem. Robert Pollack was the dean when I was an undergrad and I saw him a lot more often than you describe. I can't say how well he did the other parts of his job (though I have little reason to doubt he did them well), but on this one he was evidently better than Dean Quigley is today.

  11. i should

    clarify the first part- with Student Affairs it often feels like they're consumed with developing the perfect bureaucratic machinery. New problems or challeges are dealt with by formulating a new office to handle it, rather than with forward thinking leadership. The impetus for taking that approach is that it becomes idiot proof from the administrative side. Whats one more incompetent understaffed office so long as the office exists right?

    • Alum

      In fairness to the administration, it used to be heavily -- and deservedly -- criticized for its excessive beurocracy. I'm referring more to the university as a whole than the College in particular, but red tape was a general Columbia problem for many years.

      Putting a good administrative system in place is a big step forward from how things used to be.

      What matters, of course, is how well the system actually works. If the College is satisfied that a system is in place and doesn't care whether it is doing what it was meant to do then something needs to change. Such change can take time, and it's possible that the results you hope to see just haven't been attained yet. Or do you think the College isn't trying to make these improvements at all?

      • personally

        I think there needs to be a breath of fresh air at the top, at least on the administrative side. Colombo's a vet and was probably instrumental in Columbia's rise in popularity and rankings over the last 20 years. But as is the nature of all bureaucracies and organizations, from the inside everything can be rationalized, when from the outside they just seem inane and stupid. A passing of the torch is whats needed. more thoughts to follow.

        • Alum

          Colombo hasn't been around as long as you seem to think. If I remember correctly he's been on the job about 10 years, maybe 12. More importantly, though, I don't think he has been a major part of the reason Columbia has been doing better in popularity and rankings. When you were deciding where to go, did it even occur to you to compare the way his job was being done at the various schools? If he's helped make the school more user-friendly then he deserves some of the credit, but only some. NYC's resurgence has mattered far more, as has the improvement in Columbia's faculty and facilities, two major capital campaigns, 8 Nobel Prizes since '96, etc. Colombo's work matters, but it's not what has made Columbia resurgent in recent years.

  12. more recent alum

    i hear you, but if bob was so good, where is he now and why is he not still the dean. in other words; quigley would kick bob's a** in arm wrestling any day.

    • interesting

      tidbit. http://wikicu.com/Schapiro_Hall#Funding

      Yes New York's resurgence was a key factor to Columbia's resurgencem, along with Michael Sovern's management of the school through the 80's.

      Colombo and Quigley have been around for a while (in fact I find old mentions of Colombo as the head of SEAS Student Affairs- was there some sort of administrative Anschluss?) The school has improved in ways that they are responsible for, and ways in which theyre not responsible for. Based on my observations in the last 4 years though, they've benefited the school about as much as they can. The bureaucracy at Columbia works- but dealing with it is still an incredibly frustrating experience that leaves you with a very bad taste that lingers. Maybe it's the same way at all schools. Personally I think someone who hasn't been in and of the system for over decade might be able to see things differently (I've talked to new administrators from other schools who're appalled at the way things run at Columbia, but can't seem to do anything about it.)

      • Alum

        You're right. I'd forgotten that Colombo was at SEAS when there were separate student services offices. He has probably been around close to 20 years in total.

        I'm sure many aspects of Columbia's administration can be improved. But replacing people who do their jobs well just because they've been in office for a long time isn't likely to do this and can be a major disruption.

        To take but one dramatic illustration: Dean Quigley spent years quietly working with John Kluge to get that recent $400 million pledge. Kluge likely would have given a lot anyway, but it likely would have been much less had Quigley been replaced else after ten years in office. The impact of Quigley's decision to see that negotiation through to the end will literally be felt for as long as Columbia is around. Even if that were Quigley's only accomplishment (it isn't), his unusually long tenure would be justified.

        Quigley will probably step down within the next two or three years, if only because he has a family and an academic career that need more of his time. The fact that he didn't step down this year (after 12 years in office and after securing the Kluge gift) tells me he has a few other big projects to see through. I, for one, want him to finish those jobs, whatever they may be.

    • Alum

      As I said, I don't know how well Pollack did his job. If he were still dean he would have just finished his 25th year in office. Very few deans stay in office that long anywhere.

  13. El-E

    You fucking Columbia losers... I go to school an hour away from NYC, at a better school, I have Goldman Sachs internship this summer and I'm moving to SOHO baby, next week. And you know what? I'm writing YALE a fucking check right now.

  14. OK then

    Well you've shown that Quigley is a fundraiser par excelence, which hasn't been disputed. The complaint still stands that he hasn't been a presence among the students.

    As for Dean C, he's done a solid job over 20 years. But the dude's got a point- sometimes you need new leadership to continue improving things.

  15. fun drinking game  

    read through a list of grievances against columbia. one shot per mention of the word "bureaucracy" in any of its forms.

    guaranteed to get you HAMMERED

  16. lion  

    people who live in new haven probably shouldn't criticize harlem. not everyone aspires to live in connecticut for four years.

  17. Alexsey  

    Maybe some those penniless Columbia kids could transfer to Yale? Just remember: Impossible is Nothing.

  18. Just Remember

    This Yale guy is spending his precious billable hours for Goldman on a Columbia gossip blog just to say Columbia students suck.

    Perhaps he needs to reevaluate his priorities?

  19. CC '07  

    Obviously this thread is already very old, but there are a couple questions I've always wanted answers to.

    Do any alumni know why Rupp fired Quigley 10+ years ago; I understand the alumni association more or less forced Rupp to hire him back within a week or two. Quigley definitely bears responsibility for the abysmal advising system at Columbia--I remember him saying during my freshman year that there shouldn't be any advising for Columbia undergrads at all. Was that an issue between them?.

    To the whiffenpoof: It is necessary to be gay to graduate from Yale isn't it?

    • sigh  

      must we always revert to homophobia?

      i'm not choosing sides here (although i am a columbian) but come on, man ...

      • CC '07  

        I'm disappointed you read that to be homophobic, since there's no implication of mockery or denigration. Of course I exaggerated, not every Yale student is gay. But it's a serious question about a common Yale stereotype that I would like a well-informed answer to.

        • please  

          how predictable: "i didn't imply any harm." bullshit! you sure as hell didn't mean it in an endearing way. who are you trying to fool? man, i don't mean to interrupt your little tiff with the yalie, but you're a real asshole.

          yalie's comments don't dignify responses.

          • CC '07

            I begin by observing that though your use of the words bullshit and asshole indicate a clear exasperation with my treatment of the yalie, you don't adduce what in my comments you find so objectionable. As such, I can only clarify what I've already said.

            The intent of my question was to frustrate this buffoon who, though he claims to work for Goldman, clearly does not have much of a life to take up his time.

            It's not unreasonable to suppose that a person given to swinging his cock around on anonymous message boards would be embarrassed
            by the (true) observation that a lot of Yale students are gay. The length and vituperation of his last response demonstrates that I was right.

            Nothing that I wrote besmirches Yale, and personally I don't think it says anything against yalies in general that a higher than normal percentage of them are gay. Really I don't.

            Now use your Columbia education, such as it is, to reread my question, and before you allow your emotions tell you what it means decide what the text means on its own.

          • Alum

            I also read your comment as homophobic. What would be the point of asking him whether he's gay if not to suggest that being gay lessens him somehow (and as if his comments in this thread haven't done so already)?

            Additionally, I question your premise that gays represent an unusually high percentage of Yale students. Do you have statistics to back up your claim? If so, where are they from and what do they say? What is the percentage in the general population? Among college students in general? Among Columbia students in particular?

          • CC '07

            "What would be the point of asking him whether he's gay if not to suggest that being gay lessens him somehow?"

            The answer to your question is in these two consecutive sentences in the comment which you replied to:
            "The intent of my question was to frustrate this buffoon who, though he claims to work for Goldman, clearly does not have much of a life to take up his time.
            It's not unreasonable to suppose that a person given to swinging his cock around on anonymous message boards would be embarrassed
            by the (true) observation that a lot of Yale students are gay."

            You are right that I assumed he would take my question as suggesting that being gay would lessen him, but you can't go from there to impute such a suggestion to the question itself, or to me. A homophobic Columbia student who laughed because he thought it was an anti-gay comment would be just as crass as the yalie. Nowhere in my comments do I say anything about gay people, nor do I say anything negative (or for that matter positive) about being gay.

            As to your second question about the basis of my claim: It has no quantitative grounding whatever. It's based on conversations with several friends who went to Yale years apart and never met each other. Are they all wrong? Sure, it's possible, but I doubt it.

            The main point is that my original question can be read as anti-gay only when the person reading it thinks gay is an insult. Was it wrong or immature of me to post a question that could be interpreted in such a way? Only if you want everyone else's thoughts to match your opinions.

            Also, thanks for the information about Rupp, I didn't know he fired the previous dean. I agree that on the whole he was a very good president.

          • Alum

            To see the flaw in your logic, imagine if you had asked "It is necessary to be tall to graduate from Yale isn't it?" That question would have been rather odd, not just because there is no basis for its presumption but, more importantly, because whether our anonymous correspondent is tall doesn't matter. The reason your question comes across differently is that it presumed being gay does matter -- and that it matters in a negative way.

            And you're quite welcome re: the Rupp info. He was much more interested in consolidating power in Low Library than Sovern or Bollinger. He had good reason to feel this way, since making Columbia more administratively cohesive would improve it in many ways. He just didn't seem to fully appreciate the realities that later presented themselves to him.

          • whatever  

            your logic just doesn't stand. you've continually said that you didn't explicitly say anything homophobic, but it's clear that your intentions were to insult the yalie (you'd have to be pretty dense to not see that). you're not fooling anyone, and trying to intellectualize it in your favor isn't working.

          • Actually

            I was more disturbed by the racism lurking in the New Haven being worse than Harlem comments than the blatant homophobia. I suggest you apologize to everyone, immediately.

          • hey  

            i never said anything about new haven OR harlem

          • #48?

            Comment numbah 48 all but says it. You should get some therapy. Racist.

          • yeah but  

            you replied to #62 (me) as if i was the one who was being racist

          • Racism

            Racism is clearly bubbling under the surface of all your comments.

            Just accept it. Say "nigger faggot" to me, I dare you. Ask about "going on the down-low"... tell me I got my job at Sachs because I'm black... I know you want to... tell me I only got into Yale because I grew up in New Haven and my skin's a certain pigment... Tell me i took your place at YALE.

          • not 62

            The only one who suggested anything about your race having to do with your admission to Yale is YOU.

            It all makes sense now, though. You are clearly very insecure, although you didn't need to get all race-preachy for us to be able to infer that. The fact that you obviously spent so much time not only lurking on a Columbia gossip site, but waiting for just the right thread to spring your belittlement upon us lowly Columbians proves that it takes more than a Yale-education for one to be secure in his manhood.

            Also, I never did understand why you bragged about moving to SoHo of all places when there are clearly nicer places to live on a Goldman-Sachs salary...like, say, Riverside?

          • Oh no

            I'm just trying to see how long Bwog will let the words 'nigger faggot' stay on the site

          • Alum

            Oh, just for the record, Jack Greenberg was not "the previous dean". Steven Marcus of the English dept served for two years before Quigley became dean.

            Marcus's brief tenure is probably best forgotten, though largely for reasons beyond his control. He was foisted upon a faculty that respected him professionally but had not been consulted about his appointment; worse yet, he was simultaneously made both CC Dean and VP of Arts & Sciences -- a combination nobody could have carried off satisfactorily. Marcus resigned for health problems and many of us alumni thought that was just an excuse to conceal the fact he had been fired, but I have learned from reliable sources that it was indeed the reason he stepped down and that Rupp did not push him out.

    • Alum

      No one ever officially even revealed that Quigley had been fired, let alone why. Based upon Rupp's prior dismissals of Deans Jack Greenberg (College) and Randall Balmer (GSAS), though, it seems he was trying to exert more control than an independent-minded Dean was prepared to yield.

      The College's almumni rather liked the idea of an independent dean and were ticked off enough the first time around; they weren't about to let it happen again. For better or for worse, Rupp learned that the authority of Columbia's president only goes so far when other constituencies disagree strongly enough.

      The idea for these dismissals likely came from then-provost Jonathan Cole. I have always been dismayed with him and Rupp for taking these steps (and especially for the Orwellian manner in which Greenberg and Bagnall's dismissals were handled), but they did so many other things so very well that, on balance, I give them high marks.

  20. Goldman billables

    I'm wasting THEIR money, not mine. As for faggotry--hey, models and bottles, baby, models and bottles. And if some of us prefer male models, well what's the harm in that? You see, at a REAL ivy league school (i.e. not a lower ivy) we have more pressing intellectual concerns than whether or not someone is gay. Though, I hasten to add, could an obsession with other people's penises perhaps be a symptom of latent homosexuality? Ponder this, my little lions.

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