Columbia Engineering Announces 20 New Endowed Professorships

Media contact:
Holly Evarts, Director of Strategic Communications and Media Relations

Additional University Investment of New Space for School of Engineering and Applied Science
Valued at well over $100 Million

New York, NY – October 21, 2010 – Feniosky Peña-Mora, Dean of The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science at Columbia University, announced today that the School is in effect doubling the number of named professorships, adding 20 to the current 23 for a total of 43 endowed faculty positions.  Ten of these new endowments, valued at $30 million, have been made possible through the generous financial support of Columbia Engineering alumni and their families, spurred by University Trustee and Columbia Engineering Board of Visitors Chair Emeritus Armen Avanessians (’83) and his wife Janette, who have committed matching funds toward this major initiative to recruit international faculty of the highest caliber.

“Armen and Janette Avanessians have been key to our achieving the unprecedented goal that we set only 11 months ago:  the funding  of ten new professorships at the School of Engineering and Applied Science, representing $30 million in investment in named chairs for our faculty,” said Dean Peña-Mora.  “Their action was instrumental in securing the support of additional alumni and friends in funding these new faculty endowments.  We undertook this expansion of our faculty on an incredibly ambitious timeline during one of the most challenging economic periods in recent years, making our accomplishment all the more remarkable.  I would like to thank, from the bottom of my heart, our steadfast alumni and supporters for their confidence that a large investment in Columbia’s outstanding engineering faculty was truly an investment in the future of the School.” 

In addition, over the next year Columbia Engineering will establish ten more endowed professorships to recognize outstanding research and teaching among the School’s faculty.  Dean Peña-Mora noted that “our School is fortunate to have exceptional faculty doing extraordinary work and it is fitting that they be recognized with an appointment as a named professor.”  These additional ten chairs will bring the total number of new endowed professorships at Columbia Engineering to 20, nearly doubling the current number of named positions available to support and recognize the School’s faculty.  This record-breaking expansion will greatly enhance Columbia Engineering’s efforts to recruit and retain exceptional faculty in key research areas from around the world, making, as Dean Peña-Mora says, “an unambiguous statement that Columbia Engineering is, indeed, one of the top places in the world for engineering innovation.”

This extraordinary show of support for Columbia Engineering faculty is a fitting complement to the efforts the University is making to provide the necessary infrastructure to empower pioneering research at the School.  Within the coming months, a number of Columbia Engineering’s faculty will be housed in the Northwest Corner Building, a pandisciplinary center devoted to science and engineering that will open later this fall.  Designed by the world-renowned architect José Rafael Moneo, this new research facility will serve as an intellectual and physical bridge to maximize the synergy in exciting new research areas, including CyberBioPhysicalTM Systems, where the digital, biological, and physical sciences fuse to create new areas of knowledge.  An additional number of Columbia Engineering faculty will be based in the Jerome L. Greene Science Center, a new research and teaching facility being built as part of Columbia’s campus expansion into Manhattanville; the Center will serve as the intellectual home for Columbia's expanding initiative in Mind, Brain and Behavior. 

As an integral part of Columbia University’s significant and larger commitment to science and engineering, these new, state-of-the-art spaces for engineering create value to Columbia Engineering well in excess of $100 million. This strong support is reflective of the importance the University places, as a community, on the central role Columbia Engineering plays in leading the University forward into an age where technology is ubiquitous and engineering solutions are essential to improving the human condition.

Columbia Engineering

Columbia University's Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science offers programs to both undergraduate and graduate students who undertake a course of study leading to the bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in engineering and applied science. With facilities specifically designed and equipped to meet the laboratory and research needs of faculty and students, Columbia Engineering is home to a broad array of basic and advanced research installations, from the Columbia Center for Electron Transport in Molecular Nanostructures to the Columbia Genome Center. These interdisciplinary centers in science and engineering, materials research, nanoscale research, and genomic research are leading the way in their respective fields while individual groups of engineers and scientists collaborate to solve some of society’s more vexing challenges.

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