Rare Book & Manuscript Library
 

Michael I. Sovern Papers, 1968-1993

Summary Information

At a Glance

Call No.: UA#0075
Bib ID 5710361 View CLIO record
Creator(s) Sovern, Michael I.
Title Michael I. Sovern Papers, 1968-1993
Physical Description 21.5 linear feet (21.5 linear feet)
Language(s) English .
Access

Material is unprocessed. Please contact rbml@columbia.edu for more information.

All administrative records of the University are restricted for 25 years from the date of creation.

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

Description

Summary

This collection consists of the correspondence and subject files of Columbia University President Michael I. Sovern. It also contains his speeches as Columbia University Law School Dean (1970-1978), Columbia University Provost (1979) and Columbia University President (1980-1993). The speeches span from 1972 to 1993 and are arranged in chronological order. There are materials related to the City Charter Revision Commission.

Using the Collection

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Restrictions on Access

Material is unprocessed. Please contact rbml@columbia.edu for more information.

All administrative records of the University are restricted for 25 years from the date of creation.

This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.

About the Finding Aid / Processing Information

Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library

Processing Information

Collection-level record describing unprocessed material made public in summer 2018 as part of the Hidden Collections initiative.

Subject Headings

The subject headings listed below are found in this collection. Links below allow searches at Columbia University through the Archival Collections Portal and through CLIO, the catalog for Columbia University Libraries, as well as ArchiveGRID, a catalog that allows users to search the holdings of multiple research libraries and archives.

All links open new windows.

Subject

Heading "CUL Archives:"
"Portal"
"CUL Collections:"
"CLIO"
"Nat'l / Int'l Archives:"
"ArchivedGRID"
Columbia University -- Presidents Portal CLIO ArchiveGRID

History / Biographical Note

Biographical / Historical

A Columbia University graduate, former faculty member, dean and provost, Michael I. Sovern was Columbia's first Jewish president.

An effective fundraiser for the Law School, as president, Sovern was charged with the task of providing a more secure financial foundation for the University thereby restoring institutional confidence. As president, Sovern explored funding in areas no one had bothered to look before. One of these areas was the patents on intellectual property created by Columbia faculty. Sovern's Columbia was among the first universities to establish internal policies taking advantage of federal regulations allowing universities to patent discoveries made by faculty whose research was supported by federal grants. This, in conjunction with the sale of land under Rockefeller Center in 1985 and additional sources, allowed Sovern to quadruple the University's endowment.

In addition to fundraising, Sovern oversaw the admission of women to Columbia College for the first time in 1983 and successfully resolved the most explosive issue since the 1968 protests: South African divestment. The issue of South African divestment, which pitted the trustees against the students and the community, was carefully negotiated by Sovern who went "slow enough to provide time to bring along hesitant trustees but fast enough not to exhaust the patience of the senate or provide an excuse for student-led disruptions" (Stand Columbia, p. 545). In 1990, Sovern gained community approval for the development of property adjacent to the Health Sciences Campus, including Audubon Ballroom, where Malcolm X was assassinated.

Sovern resigned from the presidency in 1993, returning to the Law School as a faculty member.