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Using the Collection
Note: some material may be restricted or offsite
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At a Glance
This collection consists of the records of the President's Committee on the Educational Future of the University. The committee files consists of correspondence, planning documents, questionnaires, and other studies. The "non-committee" records contain an extensive library of reports and background materials, both created at Columbia and at other schools. Finally, there are drafts, revisions and final copies of the Macmahon 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. Materials related to students or containing student grades are restricted for 75 years from 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); Macmahon Report Committee records; Box and Folder numbers; University Archives, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University Libraries.
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, July 2023.
2023-07-10 Finding aid published (JR)
2023-07-13 Added Boxes 12 an 13.
History / Biographical Note
In 1955, the University Council asked President Grayson Kirk to appoint a President's Committee on the Educational Future of the University. The Committee would ideally have the following powers and responsibilities: "to make a searching inquiry into the functions of the University as an aid in determining how the University may most wisely employ its resources in the period immediately ahead; to confer with, and to inform the members of Columbia University, especially the several faculties and departments, of its findings and views; and, from time to time to make recommendations to the President of the University, to the University Council, and to the several faculties and departments of the University."
Arthur W. Macmahon, the Eaton Professor of Public Administration, was appointed Executive Director of the President's Committee on the Educational Future of the University. The other five members of the Committee were Charles H. Behre, Jr., Professor of Geology; Charles Frankel, Professor of Philosophy; Maxwell Gensamer, Professor of Metallurgy; Ernest J. Simmons, Professor of Russian Literature; and Howard R. Williams, Professor of Law. The work of the committee was financed by a $165,000 grant of the Carnegie Foundation. In its two-year study, the Committee analyzed the structure and course offerings of the University.
The Macmahon Report, as it became known, was issued to the Faculty in December 1957 and to the press in January 1958. It called for the establishment of a Science and Engineering college; proposed that the School of General Studies be limited only to those students working towards a degree; urged a broad program of expansion of University facilities, including a new gymnasium and the formation of a graduate center; asked that the number of required courses be reduced; and called for the creation of a senior honors program, among other recommendations.