Columbia is the fifth-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States, founded 22 years before the founding fathers (including Columbia alum Alexander Hamilton) signed the Constitution. The Columbia Alumni Association, in contrast, is the youngest among the Ivies, having celebrated its first decade in 2015.
This duality brings together something that is uniquely and utterly Columbian in nature—a sense of tradition, gravitas, and history paired with an innovative and contemporary spirit.
Take a look at today's Columbia alumni community by the numbers:
You may have pulled all-nighters or stolen a kiss or two in the stacks of Butler, but here are 8 things you may not know about Columbia's preeminent library.
1. Butler Library houses more than two million books. (That's six times the number of Columbia alumni we have on record.)
2. Butler Library was funded by Columbia Law alumnus, Edward Harkness, who also supported original portions of the Columbia University Medical Center. In 1918, he was ranked the 6th-richest person in the United States by Forbes magazine's first "Rich List."
Photo of Edward Harkness (You can tell he enjoyed a good book.)
3. The library's facade features inscriptions of the names of 18 writers, philosophers, and thinkers, including: Homer, Herodotus, Sophocles, Plato, Aristotle, Demosthenes, Cicero, Vergil, Horace, Tacitus, St. Augustine, Dante, Cervantes, Shakespeare, Milton, Voltaire, and Goethe. Of the 18, only Demosthenes has never been required reading in the history of the undergraduate Core Curriculum.
4. Dan Futterman '89CC wrote parts of the screenplay Capote in Butler Library. He told Columbia College Today: “As anyone knows, normal people in NYC can’t afford apartments with office space. Having a free office (actually, a daily choice of a few of them) up the road from our place on 105th Street was an enormous blessing. If I wanted solitude, I’d go hide at a desk in the Butler stacks. If I wanted to people-watch while I wrote (which I often do), I’d go to Avery or the East Asian Library — each attracts a different crowd."
5. Areas of Butler remain open 24/7 during the academic year. Remember this scene?
6. The range of collections in Columbia's Rare Book & Manuscript Library, located on the 6th Floor of Butler, spans more than 4,000 years, 500,000 books, and 14 miles of letters, records, and manuscripts, including three “noble fragments” of Gutenberg’s 42-line Bible.
7. In 1934, Columbia had to move 22 miles of books from Low Library to the new Butler Library. The solution? A giant slide.
8. Columbia's libraries, including Butler, provide greater access to alumni than any other Ivy League institution. All Columbia University alumni who have earned an undergraduate or graduate degree are eligible for lifelong reading privileges at Butler. Take advantage!
In our humble opinion, this is the most magnificent library in town.
In the spirit of the new year, deepen your involvement with the Columbia alumni network.
You can also become an alumni leader by giving back to the University with your expertise, time, or thoughts as a volunteer.
- Volunteer to review resumes online for 1 hour (Jan 19)
- Connect your social networks and be a ColumbiaSOCIAL ambassador
Many of our talented Columbia alumni leaders already have put these into practice. Read on for advice from CAA Board members on how to make the most of your relationship with the University.
Happy New Year!Read more
The Columbia Alumni Association (CAA) includes over 100 communities around the world connecting thousands each year -- a web of professional development and exclusive access to local culture -- creating Columbia in your backyard. Here are some of this year's highlights:Read more
[November 16, 2015] -- Today, Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger formally dedicated the Susan K. Feagin Welcome Center at the Columbia Alumni Center “in recognition of her extraordinary accomplishments and exemplary service to the University,” according to a special Trustee resolution.
“The defining characteristic of Susan’s extraordinary accomplishments lies in her deep capacity to draw people in and to work together to achieve seemingly unattainable goals. Columbia, and higher education generally, have been the grateful beneficiaries of this remarkable ability,” said President Lee C. Bollinger. “It is most appropriate that we celebrate her achievements here, in the house that Susan built.”
Susan Feagin ’74GS has had a distinguished career at Columbia, most recently as special advisor to President Bollinger. From 2003 to 2010, she served as the executive vice president for University development and alumni relations, during which time she brought together alumni, donors, and friends to achieve the largest fundraising effort in Ivy League history, the $6.1 billion Columbia Campaign.Read more