Columbia Commitment Campaign Closes with Incredible Support from Engineering Donors and Partners

Aiding the University-wide effort, Columbia Engineering for Humanity Campaign raised more than $350 million in gifts and pledges and $113 million in new scholarships and fellowships

Mar 31 2022 | By Allison Elliott

On Monday, March 28, President Bollinger announced an update to donors and alumni on the end of the five-year Columbia Commitment Campaign. Despite the obstacles presented by a global pandemic, Bollinger praised how “our entire community has demonstrated enormous and admirable resilience and resolve. University donors have done their part and more, as demonstrated vividly by their response to calls for support and partnership across our schools.”

Citing support from more than 200,000 alumni, Bollinger noted successes across the schools of the University and lauded the donors whose support provided student assistance in the form of scholarships, fellowships, and other gifts. The recently launched Student Support Initiative, announced in 2021, as an arc from the Campaign to the future, is on track to reach its goal to raise $1.4 billion by 2025.

Along with its sister schools, Columbia Engineering has made great strides in raising funds for professorships, new spaces, innovative research, and most importantly, student support that makes it possible for Columbia to guarantee full-need financial aid and need-blind admissions, and attract the most talented graduate students. Former dean of the engineering school, now Columbia Provost Mary C. Boyce, launched and led the Engineering for Humanity campaign effort, working closely with Interim Dean Shih-Fu Chang. Dean Chang has continued these efforts during the final six months of the campaign, raising nearly $40 million dollars.

At the close of the campaign on December 31, 2021, the Columbia Engineering for Humanity Campaign raised more than $350 million in gifts and pledges (more than 40% above the original goal) and grew the School endowment by nearly 70% since 2013. Columbia Engineering has also created 23 new professorships, as well as fundraising opportunities to facilitate community building, such as the Class Year funds and region- or cohort-based funds. The School has also raised more than $55 million in new scholarships and $58 million in fellowships, including the Avanessians Doctoral Fellowships for Engineering Thought Leaders and Innovators in Data Science with the Data Science Institute. More than $2.5 million dollars have also been raised for new internships.

The dedicated campaign has been a key component in the continued expansion of Engineering. Over the past decade, the School has realized several strategic objectives, including:

  • A new vision to guide interdisciplinary research and education efforts, Columbia Engineering for Humanity. This vision aims to inspire the community to meet the challenges of the day, particularly in the areas of health, sustainability, security, connectivity, and creativity.
  • A faculty of global experts that has expanded by more than 100 members, including female faculty who have doubled in number over the past 10 years. 
  • The number of underrepresented minorities and first-generation student population has also risen and special scholarships have been established to support these students: the James R. Priest Scholarship in honor of Columbia’s first Black graduate and the Alumbra Scholarship for Latino/a students. 
  • An innovation ecosystem in Upper Manhattan that is advancing education and research for the 21st century. As part of this culture of innovation, entrepreneurship, and research translation, Engineering has launched new programs such as the Columbia Design Challenge, venture and pitch competitions, new avenues for start-up funding and early-stage research, as well as industry partnerships and incubator programs.
  • Physically, Columbia Engineering has expanded its footprint and done extensive renovation of labs and student spaces, including an expanded Makerspace for all students and shared facilities and resources on the Morningside Campus and at the Irving Medical Center. 
  • In addition to increasing faculty size and the graduate student population by 72% over the past 10 years, the School has developed new programming to meet the needs of students and leverage cross-disciplinary expertise. With Columbia Business School, Columbia Engineering offers joint MS programs and dual executive MS and MBA programs. With Physics in Arts and Sciences, Columbia Engineering has developed a joint MS program in Quantum Science and Technology pending final approval. The School also offers a dual MS in Computer Science and Journalism with the Journalism school.
  • A re-envisioning of traditional engineering education models with new initiatives like the Professional Development and Leadership Program to help students gain skills needed for impact in their careers. Students are also benefiting from a much expanded Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program that strives to create a more inclusive culture, while promoting STEM careers and meaningful research experience for students at Columbia, as well as at Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority Serving Institutions.

In a letter to donors, Interim Dean of Engineering Shih-Fu Chang expressed gratitude to Columbia Engineering supporters for their commitment to the School. 

“This support is invaluable and makes it possible to continue our Columbia Engineering for Humanity vision and enables our remarkable students, regardless of their circumstances, to complete their studies,” he said. “We thank you so much for your ongoing engagement and commitment. It encourages and inspires us to keep to our mission and vision as we tackle the challenges and opportunities ahead and invent a better future for all.”