War hero Dwight D. Eisenhower becomes University president, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Madeleine Albright become alumnae and the events of 1968 expose rifts between the University, neighbors, and students.

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Joseph Engelberger

The School of International Affairs is founded; its name is changed to the School of International and Public Affairs in 1981.

Joseph Engelberger, the father of modern robotics, graduates from SEAS.

Columbia President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Dwight D. Eisenhower becomes the University's 13th president and the first non-Episcopalian to serve in the position.

The Oral History Research Office is founded by Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Allan Nevins, marking the start of the modern oral-history movement. Today the collection houses nearly 8,000 taped memoirs with more than one million pages of transcripts.

Professor William "Maurice" Ewing

The Lamont Geological Observatory is founded in Palisades, New York. Most of the University's earth sciences research activities subsequently relocate there. Under Maurice Ewing, Lamont becomes one of the nation's leading oceanographic research centers and the home of pioneering researchers in plate tectonics. The name is changed to the Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory in 1968 and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in 1993.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Dwight D. Eisenhower is elected president of the United States; he resigns the Columbia presidency effective January 1953.

President Grayson Kirk

Grayson Kirk is elected the University's 14th president; he had previously served as provost under Eisenhower.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Ruth Bader Ginsburg graduates first in her class from Columbia Law School. In 1972 she becomes the first woman tenured law professor in Columbia Law School history and, in 1993, the second woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Morningside Park

City agencies and the New York legislature approve a plan for Columbia to build a gym in Morningside Park; the plan calls for sharing of the facility with neighborhood groups.

Elliot P. Skinner

Elliott P. Skinner, later chair of the anthropology department, becomes the first African-American to receive tenure at Columbia.

Students at Columbia

Columbia College and Barnard College begin the active recruiting of black applicants. The Students' Afro-American Society chapter at Columbia becomes the first African-American advocacy group on a multi-racial campus in the United States.

Columbians participate in voter-registration drives throughout the South. Many return to campus determined to participate in civil-rights protest activities and neighborhood organizing in New York.

An SDS Calendar

The School of the Arts is founded.

Opposition to American military involvement in South Vietnam leads to the creation of several antiwar groups on campus.

A Columbia chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) is organized; its early activities focus on building opposition to the war in Vietnam.

Madeleine Albright

The Student Homophile League, the country's oldest student gay-rights advocacy group, is founded.

Madeleine Albright, later U.S. secretary of state, graduates from the School of International and Public Affairs.

Students occupying a campus building in 1968

Students occupy five campus buildings, protesting the University's work on Morningside Gymnasium, involvement with military agencies, and alleged racism. After eight days, city police clear the buildings and make 712 arrests, 524 of them Columbia students.

At a meeting of the Joint Faculties the afternoon following the police bust, the Executive Committee of the Faculty is created to try to restore the torn fabric of the University. Law professor Michael I. Sovern is made co-chairman, along with political scientist Allan Westin. At the committee's urging, the gym project is abandoned, University links to military defense agencies and NROTC are terminated, and criminal charges against arrested students are dropped. An outside fact-finding commission, chaired by Harvard law professor Archibald Cox, is invited on campus to investigate the causes of the disturbances.

Four months later, President Kirk announces his retirement. Andrew W. Cordier, then dean of the School of International Affairs and a seasoned U.N. diplomat, is named acting president.

President Andrew Cordier

A measure of academic calm is restored by Cordier, who is named president in 1969, even as a search for his successor is begun.

The University Senate, a representative assembly of faculty, students, and administrators, is voted into existence by a University-wide referendum. It assumes the responsibilities of the Executive Committee of the Faculty, which ends its work.

Next: Recent Columbia [1970–2004]

Dwight D. Eisenhower
This remarkable Columbian is the only University President to leave his post to serve as president of the United States.

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