Archive for history

A timeline of SIPA’s defining moments

Founded in 1946, the School of International and Public Affairs has evolved greatly over seven decades, adding students, faculty, programs, areas of study, academic centers, and even the tallest building on Columbia University’s Morningside Campus.

After 70 years, what remains unchanged is the School’s mission—to serve the global public interest by educating students to serve and lead and by producing and sharing new knowledge on the critical public policy challenges facing the world, today and in the future.

We hope you enjoy this selection of highlights from SIPA’s rich history.

1948 – SIPA’s first students In 1946 the School of International Affairs (as it was then known) enrolled its first students. The first class graduated in 1948.

1951 – Dwight Eisenhower took special interest in SIPA when he was Columbia’s president In 1951, then University president Dwight D. Eisenhower established the Institute of War and Peace Studies. Many of SIPA’s affiliated centers were established in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.


1960 – SIPA’s growth led to construction of the IAB in the late 1960s The School’s growth created need for more space to accommodate faculty and students. Designed by the same architect as the UN Building, the International Affairs Building was completed in 1970 and formally dedicated in 1971.

1966- Over the years, the International Fellows program has connected students to prominent leaders. Established in 1960, the IF program brings students together from Columbia’s multiple graduate schools. Senator Robert F. Kennedy (center right) was an early visitor.

1979 – The School updated its name to reflect creation of the MPA program After starting the MPA program in 1977, the School changed its name in 1979 to reflect its expanded mission.

1985 – Welcoming World Leaders to SIPA SIPA has long welcomed to campus world leaders like PM Rajiv Gandhi of India (right), who gave the annual Silver lecture in 1985.

1989 – Henry Kissinger discusses the War Powers Act SIPA often convenes conferences and forums on important global and national policy issues. The former secretary of state was joined in 1989 by Joe Biden, then a U.S. senator from Delaware.

1995 – Al Gore and David Dinkins flank Dean John Ruggie at the inaugural Dinkins Forum More than 20 years later, the annual gathering still serves as a vehicle for discussing major urban policy issues. Vice President Al Gore (left) was among the keynote speakers in the forum’s first year.

1997 – SIPA students learn from the global classroom New York City hosts important events like the Korean Four-Way Talks. SIPA students benefit from proximity to the events and institutions they study.

2000 – Adding New Programs In the 2000s, SIPA welcomed its first EMPA students and also initiated the PhD program in sustainable development, which would observe its 10-year anniversary in 2014. (The PhD anniversary gathering is pictured.)

2012 – A Rare Visit SIPA students continue to travel around the world for Capstones workshops and other educational programs. In 2012, Elisabeth Lindenmayer led the first group of students to visit North Korea under the auspices of an American university program.

2012 – The Center on Global Economic Governance, led by Professor Jan Svejnar, convened a panel of faculty experts for its launch CGEG studies the implications of an increasingly interconnected global economy for the United States and the world.

2013 – The Center on Global Energy Policy is one of several academic centers launched since 2010 In the last five years, SIPA has launched four new academic centers. Mayor Michael Bloomberg was on hand for the 2013 celebration of the new Center on Global Energy Policy.

2015 – SIPA celebrates the inauguration of the new Raj Center on Indian Economic Policies The Raj Center is the first academic center in the United States devoted to India and its economy, and the newest center at the School.

2015 – Caroline Kennedy addressed graduating students in May 2015 Caroline Kennedy, U.S. ambassador to Japan, speaks at SIPA’s 2015 graduation ceremony. From an initial class of just a few dozen, the School now enrolls more than a thousand full-and part-time students in multiple degree programs and tracks.

New Student Photo Series #6

Max Arvid Anderson will be joining SIPA in two weeks.  He will be among 200+ new students pursuing the Master of International Affairs degree this fall.  Before beginning his studies, Max spent his summer in the Economic and Social Council Chamber at the UN Headquarters in New York.


The silly grin on my face is due to some over-the-top self satisfaction, the fatigue is due to spending the summer working. The picture was taken last month, when the draft resolution on General Assembly Revitalization was adopted by consensus in the Ad Hoc Working Group on GA Revitalization. The GA Revitalization process is a yearly affair (like so many things at the UN), and was formalised after the 2005 World Summit. This year I had the privilege to function as negotiator on behalf of the European Union and its Member States. The other main stake holders are the NAM, certain members of the Security Council and UN Member States who value the GA and the UN reform process. This year proved particularly difficult due to well known political sensitivities when it comes to the selection and appointment of the next UNSG, due to take place in 2016. On a more consensual note, we managed to agree that the Security Council elections for non-permanent members should take place earlier than October; to allow smaller UN Member States to adequately prepare for the two years they spend there.

SIPA Fun Facts

Think you know everything about Columbia’s esteemed School of International and Public Affairs? So did we, until we decided to compile a list of fun facts about our beloved graduate institution. Here are some things we bet you didn’t know about SIPA and its storied history.

  • SIPA was originally named the School of International Affairs.
  • For the first SIPA class, the admissions requirements included “a distinctly superior undergraduate record and a better-than-average performance on the Graduate Record Examination.”
  • In its first year, SIPA tuition was $600 a year.
  • Max Abramowitz, the designer  Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center and oversaw the design of the United Nations, was the architect for the SIPA building still used today.
  • The [International Affairs] building was dedicated on October 21, 1971. But not everyone was happy about SIPA’s new home; its construction led to the demolition of a row of brownstones inhabited by 300 tenants.
  • The Masters of Public Administration program was established in 1977.
  • In 1981, the school decided to officially change its name to the School of International and Public Affairs.
  • In 1992, the program in Economic Policy Management (PEPM) was created.
  • Following the 9/11 attacks, SIPA faculty and students organized campus-wide programs to help with the recovery effort, including coordinating volunteer translators and garnering support for affected families.
  • Today, the school has approximately 1,100 students, 18,000 alumni living in 155 different countries, and almost 70 faculty members.
  • The current student age ranges from 20 to 55.
  • More than half of the student body is comprised of international students, hailing from 95 different countries.
  • Two of the nation’s most high-profile mayors are SIPA alumni. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio graduated in 1987, while his Los Angeles counterpart Eric Garcetti graduated from the program in 1995.
  • Former New York City Mayor David Dinkins teaches a class on public policy for MIA/MPA students.
  • Madeleine Albright received a certificate from SIPA in 1968.
  • Today, job titles of SIPA alumni include the Wall Street Journal’s Moscow Bureau Chief, the Director of International Strategy at Twitter, the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, the Executive Director for the Michigan ACLU, and the Minister for Finance in Mongolia.
where it all began

Where it all began: SIPA Class of 1948



New Student Photo Series – Post 9

Joe Maddens (Jelle is my legal name, but people call me Joe), MIA

Joe Maddens is a dual degree MIA/MBA student studying self-sustainable genocide prevention initiatives. This summer he is in Phnom Penh, helping a Cambodian nonprofit write the business plan for a museum that supports genocide education, national healing, and cultural revival.

Siem Reap 176(Joe is second from the left )

The majority of the museum’s exhibits are on the Khmer Rouge regime, which killed roughly 20% of the country’s population between 1975 and 1979. This is Tuol Sleng, a high school that the Khmer Rouge turned into a prison and interrogation center.Phnom Penh 095








Phnom Penh 202



After interrogation, prisoners from Tuol Sleng were taken to Choung Ek, known as “The Killing Fields,” to be executed and buried in mass graves like this one.



Today, millions of tourists visit Cambodia’s temples, including Angkor Wat and many others that are still buried in the jungle.  Siem Reap 2 040Siem Reap 800

With ticket revenues from Cambodia’s tourists, the museum would promote education on the Khmer Rouge, provide space and programs for healing, and help preserve endangered aspects of Cambodian culture, such as art forms, music, food, and temples like this one, all of which are being destroyed by commercialization, tourism, and looting.

Through revival of its rich culture and history, and using the museum’s social and economic empowerment programs, Cambodia would then reshape its identity in a more positive light, laying the past to rest through commemoration and moving on into the future.

Siem Reap 784


All the photographs were taken in Cambodia


New Student Photo Series – post 8

Sissi Yan Xi Goh, MIA 2015 Singapore

Over the years, traveling has become an integral part of my life. After taking a few courses on Taiwanese history and Cross strait relations, I decided to go beyond what I have studied in theory and go to Taiwan for a visit. sissibeachThe first photo was taken at Qi Xing beach of Hualien city.  It has an elegant arch shape and is full of beautiful pebbles.





The second photo was taken in Taroko National park.sissi national park I climbed up the hill wearing high heels!









sissi peace memorial


The third photo was taken at 228 Peace Memorial Park of Taipei which commemorates victims of the 228 incident of 1947.





And the last photograph was taken at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.sissi MFA








"The most global public policy school, where an international community of students and faculty address world challenges."

—Merit E. Janow, Dean, SIPA, Professor of Practice, International and Economic Law and International Affairs

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