Columbia Campaign Raises $5.6 Billion

Columbia students on campus
Columbia University

President Lee C. Bollinger has announced the successful completion of the Columbia Commitment, a five-year University-wide campaign that raised $5.6 billion to support students and faculty, as well as projects that address critical global problems.

Launched in 2016, the Columbia Commitment exceeded its original goal of $5 billion through the support of nearly 200,000 donors and 160,000 engaged alumni.

The idea behind the Columbia Commitment was to provide resources for students and faculty while harnessing Columbia’s interdisciplinary expertise to develop global solutions to some of today’s most complex challenges. From the beginning, it was an ambitious attempt to increase the University’s impact in areas like medical research, technological advancement, and social justice and equity.   

The campaign helped support priorities like the elimination of debt for medical students, the construction of the business school’s new home in Manhattanville, the establishment of the African American and Diaspora Studies Department, and the creation of the Columbia Climate School. It also included the largest gift ever to Columbia University Irving Medical Center, a transformative donation from the late Florence and Herbert Irving (both ’13HON) to advance cancer research and clinical care.

“During my now two decades as president of the University, we have conducted several significant fundraising campaigns, each an essential building block in Columbia’s ongoing evolution as one of the world’s great research universities,” wrote Bollinger in a letter to the University community on March 28. “Among these campaigns, the Columbia Commitment has earned special distinction not only for its comprehensive embrace of Columbia’s overall mission but also for achieving its goals during historically challenging times for both the University and the broader world. Despite the often-bewildering realities imposed by the pandemic, 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 across our schools.”

While the Columbia Commitment is now complete, its mission remains ongoing through the work of the University’s schools, institutes, and centers, and the continued commitment to growing financial-aid resources across the University.

“Every gift to any part of the University anchored Columbia’s overall capacity to both sustain and evolve in how we teach and nurture our students, discover new knowledge, and engage with the world,” says Bollinger. “The true measure of what the Columbia Campaign has done will show in what our students and faculty can now do, working together to create a future that is built on a profound respect for free inquiry, on knowledge, and on the public-spiritedness that defines the life of the mind. That remains our Columbia commitment.”