Welcome to the Office of the Secretary of Columbia University.

Established in 1895, the Office of the Secretary has primary responsibility for facilitating the governance of the University. The office directly supports the work of the Board of Trustees, including the staffing of quarterly board meetings, annual board retreats, committee meetings, and orientation for new Trustees. The office also maintains a directory of trustees and updates the University Charters and Statutes.

In addition, the office oversees the process for selecting honorary degree recipients and the winners of the University Medal for Excellence. The Office of the Secretary also undertakes, from time to time, special projects on behalf of the president and the University Trustees.

University Trustees announce that Nemat “Minouche” Shafik, the current President of the London School of Economics and Political Science, has been named the 20th President of Columbia University. She will assume the role on July 1, 2023.

As the presidential search takes shape, the goal is to establish greater collaboration across the university and the community.

The members of the Presidential Search Committee to oversee the process of selecting the next president of the University. 

President Lee C. Bollinger announced that he will step down at the end of the 2022-2023 academic year, his 21st year as president of Columbia University.

Closeup of the Alma Mater statue on Low Plaza on Columbia University Morningside campus

I Need Help With

Academic Appointments

Appointment or reappointment of officers of instruction and the terms of appointment are first confirmed in writing by the department chair or dean. They are then subject to approval by the Provost of the University. Upon approval, the Office of the Provost issues formal letters of appointment on behalf of the Secretary of the University.

Questions regarding academic appointment letters may be directed to Pearl Spiro, Associate Provost for Academic Appointments (408 Low Library, 212-854-3813, [email protected]).

Obtaining Blue Seal Letters

Blue Seal Letters enable faculty to receive appropriate courtesies for observation and study while traveling; they are addressed to officials in charge of archives, government agencies, institutes of health, and institutions of learning, libraries, and museums.

To obtain a Blue Seal Letter, send a request via email to [email protected] with the following information:

  • Name
  • Department
  • Tenure Status
  • Travel Dates and Requested Permissions
  • Contact Information

Processing takes approximately one week.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I obtain information on University Trustees?

An official list and official biographies of University Trustees are available on the Board of Trustees page.

Where can I submit a nomination for University Honors and Prizes or the Medal for Excellence?

Information regarding the process, background, and form for nominating candidates can be found in the Honors and Prizes section of our website.

I have a question about my appointment letter.

Questions regarding academic appointment letters may be directed to Pearl Spiro, Associate Provost for Academic Appointments (408 Low Library, 212-854-3813, [email protected]).

Contact Us

Office hours are 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

211 Low Library, MC 4324
535 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10027

[email protected]