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Using the Collection
Note: some material may be restricted or offsite
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At a Glance
This collection is arranged in two series.
This collection consists of the reports submitted by the different academic departments to the President in 1890, 1900 and 1927.
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 has no restrictions.
The following box is located off-site: Box 1. 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.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Departmental Reports to the President; Box and Folder number (if known); University Archives, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Libraries.
For additional correspondence between the Office of the President and the academic departments, see Central Files (UA#0001). Earlier departmental reports can be found in the Columbia College papers (UA#0224).
No additions are expected.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
The Seth Low selections in this collection were processed by John Kim in 2000 and edited by Marilyn Pettit in February 2001. The Nicholas Murray Butler selections were processed by Alexander Hunt in December 1992 and edited by Jocelyn Wilk in February 2002. Finding aid written by Joanna Rios in June 2019.
History / Biographical Note
Departmental reports to President Seth Low indicate that he was acting as chief academic officer as well as president of what was Columbia College in 1890 and Columbia University in 1900. Departments received the circular from the President's Office (December 4, 1890 and October 4, 1900) and were asked to provide answers to numbered questions. The reports include the names and rank of current faculty and their current roles, a department's immediate financial needs (for salaries, libraries, and equipment), and what new courses they would like to offer. The 1900 reports include those from the departments of the medical school.
In 1927 the Trustees and President Nicholas Murray Butler considered initiating a major fundraising campaign to expand Columbia's capital resources. The John Price Jones Corporation, which assisted educational, philanthropic, and scientific organizations procure endowments, was hired to organize the campaign. On April 14, 1927 John Price Jones submitted its "Survey and Plan of Fund Raising for Columbia University" to the Trustees. It was estimated at the time that $8,000,000 would be raised for the University at a cost of approximately $250,000. On May 2, however, the Trustees decided not to implement the plan formulated by John Price Jones.
An important element of the study was a questionnaire sent to each of Columbia's academic departments by President Butler. Departments were asked to conduct a self-assessment and to predict their needs for the year 1950. The replies to the questionnaire were confidential and allowed the departments to provide thorough and often blunt evaluations of their role in their academic fields and of their standing compared to their competitors at other universities. They provided John Price Jones with frank and detailed information about the financial requirements and individual accomplishments of Columbia's various departments.