|Columbia University Archives|
At a Glance
This collection consists of the materials used to compile the report, Columbia's Academic Eminence: A Report by the University Development Plan Committee's Subcommittee on Academic Eminence, 1954-1955. There are surveys for each academic department (Philosophy) and "field of learning" (Ethics, Logic, Metaphysics). There are also some subcommitee records: minutes, correspondence, outlines, and drafts of the final report.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
You will need to make an appointment in advance to use this collection material in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room. You can schedule an appointment once you've submitted your request through your Special Collections Research Account.
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.
All administrative records of the University are restricted for 25 years from the date of creation.
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.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Academic eminence records; Box and Folder numbers; University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University Libraries.
Please consult the online version of the report, Columbia's Academic Eminence: A Report by the University Development Plan Committee's Subcommittee on Academic Eminence, October 1954. Additional materials, under "Academic Eminence Study," can be found in Central Files (UA#0001).
No additions are expected.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Collection-level record describing unprocessed material made public in summer 2018 as part of the Hidden Collections initiative. This collection was processed by Joanna Rios, June 2023.
2023-06-09 Finding aid published (JR)
2023-06-13 Added box 8. (JR)
History / Biographical Note
Inspired by Columbia's then-upcoming Bicentennial year (1954), the University Development Plan Committee charged the Subcommittee on Academic Eminence to conduct a study "to ascertain the relative standing of Columbia's academic eminence in as objective a manner as possible." According to the report, the committee was "concerned with several danger signs which have appeared in recent years: (1) the recent loss of eminent people to other institutions; (2) the growing competition from state-supported institutions, government and industry; (3) the few eminent men who have in recent years refused invitations to join Columbia's staff; (4) the younger staff members of promise who are tempted to leave; (5) the many vacancies which will occur in the next few years due to retirements of eminent scholars; and (6) the urgent need for new and improved physical facilities which might overshadow the importance of staff."
To discover Columbia's academic eminence in comparison with other leading institutions, the Subcommittee set out to find the most distinguished scholars and where they were located. Columbia's Department Chairs (or Executive Officers, as they were known then) were asked to supply a list of "fields of learning" within their discipline as well as a list of professors specializing in each field. Survey forms were sent out to these scholars or a "panel of experts" to judge their colleagues and identify those who were the most eminent in a given field. The Subcommittee tabulated the results to see how Columbia ranked.
In the report, the Subcommittee found that Columbia ranked second only to Harvard in academic eminence. In order to improve its ranking, they recommended that Columbia hire an additional 27 eminent professors, create a favorable academic climate with attractive facilities, improve living conditions, award merit promotions, offer publication assistance, support participation in professional affairs, and demonstrate more administrative interest. The members of the University Development Plan Committee's Subcommittee on Academic Eminence were Paul F. Kerr, Chair; Charles R. Dawson, William A. Demorest, Edward H. Green and Christopher Mady, Secretary.