Author Archives: Kathleen O'Donnell

Bill Campbell 1940-2016


We were deeply saddened by the news this week about Bill Campbell ’62CC, ’64TC, ’15HON. Beloved alumnus, University trustee, former Chair of the Trustees, football coach, and a devoted fan and supporter of our students and athletics, Bill helped shape the University with his vision and energy. As President Lee C. Bollinger said last year when announcing Bill as the recipient of the CAA Alumni Medal, “If a great university like Columbia could have a single, beating heart, it would be you.” Read the President’s statement. 

Big. Bigger. Biggest.

Do you know what the two largest gifts made during The Columbia Campaign—and in the 262-year history of the University—have in common? Planned giving.

The transformative gifts from John Kluge ‘37CC ($400M) and Dawn Greene and the Jerome L. Greene Foundation (more than $200M) are two extraordinary examples of planned giving at Columbia.

As we count down to a new campaign, Amelia Alverson has noted that “our goal is to unlock unrealized gift potential across the spectrum of prospects at Columbia.”  Gift planning options may allow fundraisers to incorporate the smartest, most effective strategies in their everyday dealings with potential and current donors.

Susan Feagin’s associates from John Brown Limited (JBL)—Craig Smith and Dan Shephard—will be conducting intensive sessions for all front-line fundraisers to maximize the effectiveness of gift conversations.

  •       Principal Gift Prospect Managers – May 2-3
  •       School and Unit Chief Development Officers – May 4-5
  •       Major Gift Prospect Managers – May 9-10 and July 28-29
  •       Annual Giving Prospect Managers – January 10-11, 2017

The focus will be on learning by doing, using tried and true methods for introducing conversations and inspiring generosity, and case studies to explore what planned giving options (deferred and outright) work—for whom, why, and when. The tool-building and skills-honing will continue throughout the year, with Craig and Dan from JBL returning nearly monthly to facilitate 90-minute follow-up sessions to the original seminars.

According to Ryan Hart, executive director of gift planning, “Together, we—front-line fundraisers and the Office of Gift Planning team—will explore elegant solutions to suit every donor’s particular philanthropic and financial needs.”

The end game: creating gift opportunities for donors to embrace, feeling energized and excited that they are doing more for Columbia and for the world than they (or we) ever thought possible.




Goal-Setting: An Insiders’ Perspective

2016_Campaign-Countdown_Email-Tile_300x197Two associate deans in development share insights on campaign goal-setting at the school level:  Janine Jaquet (Graduate School of Journalism) and Reva Feinstein (School of Nursing).




j school

Janine Jaquet
Associate Dean of Alumni and Development, Strategy, and
 Professional Programs, School of Journalism

Our dean, Steve Coll, knew from the start of his tenure that he wanted to launch a campaign, so from the very beginning he was thinking thematically. As he got to know the school better, some of those ideas shifted, some priorities became more pronounced, almost everything became more nuanced. Some ideas didn’t evolve, so those went on the back burner. But as the campaign planning started heating up, we looked again at less well-defined needs.

One area that we hadn’t figured out how to talk about was broadcast. We teach students how to produce for TV—and now, also for the web, social media, and how to make a documentary. How to describe this collectively? Our colleague Ethan Phillips had an idea—why don’t we combine these—and throw in photojournalism, too—and call it visual journalism? Why not talk about the power of the image, rather than market segments? The dean assembled faculty from all those areas and we hammered out the basic elements of our case, without getting bogged down in the details. To me, that’s a good example of creative thinking about underlying points of connection and a search for a larger narrative, something we can do across our units, as well as across the University.


Reva Feinstein
Associate Dean for Development and Alumni Relations, School of Nursing

For Nursing, the biggest challenge for goal-setting was the projected timing of the new University-wide campaign, as we are currently engaged in a capital campaign ending in 2017. 

We needed to think strategically about a fresh message and how to align our (relatively small) school/unit goals and needs within the context of an ambitious multi-billion dollar University goal.

Our solution? We identified realistic goals—with some stretching—to be part of a “One Columbia/Big Ideas” campaign.

We took a collaborative approach, every step of the way. Dean Berkowitz, her Dean’s Counsel group, senior leadership at the school, and key faculty all came together to start the conversations. Our five-person alumni relations and development team was also a critical part of the goal-setting process. Janice Rafferty Grady, director of development at Nursing and I were co-leads on setting the goals. We participated in conversations, did related exercises, and received guidance from Brian Chapman, executive director for analytics and business strategy. 

One important insight: we realized ALMA metrics are going to be an essential tool to measure alumni engagement for the future campaign. We began to think more strategically about how to use ALMA’s metrics, where before we had just thought of it in the abstract. Our next step is further refining gift opportunities, as Nursing continues to enhance engagement with alumni, donors, and friends in new and novel ways.





Five Things to Know About Data and Society at Columbia

data brains editedData. It’s everywhere. We are living in a time of unprecedented data generation: from the photos we take on our smartphones to the temperatures registered on the office thermostats— it’s all data. This trend is universal and unstoppable, as data are revolutionizing the very way in which we live, work, and think.

Read on to find out more about how data analytics is changing the research paradigm, and how Columbia researchers are harnessing the power of data.

1. How is “Data and Society” a Big Idea at Columbia?
It is Columbia’s response to the “data deluge” of our time, involving University-wide research, scholarship, and teaching of data science and analytics to address today’s issues.

2. How are Columbia researchers harnessing the power of data?
Faculty across Columbia are using data analytics as the starting point for their research. By discovering patterns that could not be seen using traditional research approaches, data analytics allows faculty across all schools and units to ask completely novel questions in their fields of research, whether unlocking autism trends, understanding freshwater scarcity, or managing patient information to improve clinical decision-making.

3. How do data analytics change the way research is conducted?
Traditional scientific method requires the researcher to pose a hypothesis (the “research question”) and then construct a series of experiments to test that hypothesis. Data analytics methods start with the data, apply one or more algorithms to the data, and then examine whether patterns emerge that might lead to interesting research paths. “Listening to the data” leads to complex questions that can then be advanced by the researcher in ways that accelerate the whole knowledge-creation process.

4. What is the Data Science Institute?
With more than 150 faculty working in a wide range of disciplines, the Institute seeks to foster collaboration in advancing techniques to gather and interpret data, and to address the urgent problems facing society. Watch the video.

5. What are some examples of how “listening to the data” has led Columbia researchers to new frontiers of knowledge and discovery?

bearman_150pxPeter Bearman on autism
Peter Bearman, the Jonathan R. Cole Professor of the Social 
Sciences, studied the population level drivers of increased autism prevalence. Learn more



FB2403_Bowman_1DuBois Bowman on the progression of disease
DuBois Bowman, chair and professor of biostatistics, Mailman School of Public Health, is analyzing health records and brain scans using novel automated tools to try to understand how neurological disorders like Parkinson’s progress over time. Learn more about Professor Bowman.


Augustin Chaintreau on geotagging and identifying users of social media 
Augustin Chaintreau, associate professor in the computer science department, was part of a joint study with Google revealing that geotagged posts on just two social media apps are enough to link various accounts held by the same person. Read the BuzzFeed article.


Patricia Culligan on trees and stormwater management in New York City
Patricia Culligan, professor of civil engineering and mechanics, the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, partnered with the Mayor’s Office to analyze New York City’s massive data set on plantings around the city to understand the role that the city’s
trees play in street-level water management. What’s the difference between
a tree that drinks up rainwater and one that doesn’t? List
en to this interview with Professor Culligan and find out. 


Ppeter-demenocal-300eter deMenocal on climate change
Peter deMenocal, director of the Center for Climate and Life and professor in the department of earth and environmental sciences at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, says “the climate problem, broadly writ, is a data problem.” Learn about the Center for Climate and Life here

Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 4.05.31 PMLucius Ricco on pothole prediction
Lucius Ricco (aka Professor Pothole), senior lecturer in discipline at Columbia Business School, used data analytics to calculate to what degree bad weather and bad management contribute to New York City’s potholes. Read The New Yorker article. 



Event: Global Money—Past, Present, and Future 

Moments of financial crisis force rediscovery of a disconcerting fact: the world’s most important currencies are generated globally, beyond their state boundaries.

Learn more in a Global Think-In sponsored by The Committee on Global Thought (CGT). April 25 3:30 p.m. East Gallery, Buell Hall (Maison Française). For more events, see Jerry’s Picks.



The Wu Family China Center Launched

Throughout his career as a distinguished cardiologist and medical educator, the late Dr. Clyde Wu ’56PS was aware of the great potential of international cooperation. It is no surprise, he played a pivotal role in building Columbia’s relationship with China—and the world.

On March 31, President Lee Bollinger and Lee Goldman, MD, chief executive of Columbia University Medical Center, co-hosted the official launch of the Wu Family China Center. Dr. Wu and his wife Helen (also deceased) established the Center, and committed to providing it with an endowment of at least $10 million through their own philanthropy and that of their large extended family. The Center will feature joint pilot research projects and exchanges of faculty and fellows between Columbia and Zhejiang University School of Medicine. 

wu family 1000Much of Clyde and Helen Wu’s large extended family was on hand at Low Library to celebrate the Wu Family China Center’s launch. Wu family members in attendance included granddaughter Maddie Wu and son Dr. David Wu (shown second and third from left).

“They were a source of joy, a source of constant support, and some of the loveliest people I ever met,” President Bollinger said of Clyde and Helen in his opening remarks.

“The Wu Global Center is the crowning glory of Clyde and Helen’s largesse,” said P. Roy Vagelos ’54PS, chair of the Columbia University Medical Center’s Board of Advisors.

Dr. Wu was born in Hong Kong in 1931. His family moved to China’s heartland during World War II, escaping Japanese occupation. He travelled to America to study medicine. In 1956, Wu was one of two Asian students to graduate from the College of Physicians and Surgeons. 

Wu 1000Lady Ivy Wu, Dr. Wu’s sister-in-law and a member of the Center’s Board of Overseers (shown left), presented Henry Kissinger with the inaugural Dr. Clyde and Mrs. Helen Wu Distinguished Award for International Understanding at the event. As national security advisor under Richard Nixon, Kissinger travelled to China in 1971 and helped open diplomatic relations between the countries for the first time in 23 years.

Anke Nolting, associate dean and executive director of alumni relations at the CUMC, will serve as inaugural director of the Wu Center. “America and China have much to learn from each other,” she said, “and I cannot imagine any better partners to engage in this dialogue than P&S and Zhejiang University School of Medicine.”

For Clyde and Helen Wu, the Center is the legacy of a long and close relationship with Columbia. Dr. Wu served as a member of the University’s Board of Trustees and as vice chair of the Medical Center Board of Advisors. He and Helen established the Clyde and Helen Wu Center for Molecular Cardiology, five Clyde and Helen Wu Professorships, and supported the construction of the new Medical and Graduate Education Building. 

wu music 1000Now, the Wu Family Center they envisioned will further strengthen Columbia’s relationship with China.

“We spread the good word and planted the seeds,” Dr. Wu said of his vision for the Center. “Now the time has come for others to plough the field and reap the fruits.”

Photos by Ricky Owens

What’s New at Columbia? Here’s Your Answer

Drawing from recent University headlines, our latest edition of What’s New at Columbia provides information on Columbia and the CAA that you can share with alumni, donors, and friends—in correspondence, proposals, and remarks. In most cases, we’ve provided links to more comprehensive stories, and there is always a wealth of information available on the University website, updated daily by Public Affairs. Access the documents on Essentials:  Word and PowerPoint.