Chair of Presidential Search Committee Expresses Thanks

January 18, 2023

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

Today you received the thrilling news about Columbia’s next president, Nemat “Minouche” Shafik. As we introduce Minouche to our entire community, I want to express my deep appreciation to everyone who helped us pursue a search that yielded an extraordinary outcome: an accomplished and inspirational president who will lead Columbia into the future.

First, I want to thank Jonathan Lavine, chair of the Board of Trustees and my partner in leading this search, and the members of the Presidential Search Committee: most importantly the faculty members of the committee, Richard Axel, Jeanine D’Armiento, Farah Jasmine Griffin, and Edward Guo; Ronald Liebowitz, currently the president of Brandeis University and a proud Columbia alum; and my fellow Trustees and Trustee Emerita, Rolando Acosta, Abby Elbaum, Mark Gallogly, Joe Greenaway, Wanda Holland Greene, David Greenwald, Claire Shipman, and Esta Stecher. Members of the Search Committee spent hundreds of hours listening to our advisory committees and academic leaders inside and outside of Columbia, talking with potential candidates, hearing from friends of the University and in many days of interviews and deliberations. The Search Committee received more than 600 nominations from the Columbia community and beyond. The Committee also asked University Librarian and Vice Provost Ann Thornton to serve as Chief of Staff to the Search Committee in its efforts. I am grateful to the Committee and our supporting staff for their deep commitment to Columbia and for their dedication to a thorough process.

More than 80 members of our community served as representatives on four advisory committees—faculty, staff, students, and alumni—and supported the Search Committee’s work by conducting additional outreach via surveys, town halls, and discussions. The Search Committee held meetings with each of the advisory committees to hear input directly, and their advice and recommendations helped shape our conversations with candidates. I want to thank especially the leaders of the four advisory committees—Adina Berrios Brooks, Wendy Chung, Katie Conway, Jennifer Egbebike, Marcus Folch, James Harden, Erin McKissick, and Alisa Wood—whose efforts ensured the inclusion of many voices in our process.

The Search Committee consulted with the Executive Committee of the University Senate throughout the process, and their support and guidance was invaluable. The Policy and Planning Committee of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences also provided important insights in our meetings with them.

Additionally, from the four surveys that were conducted over the summer and early fall of 2022—a community-wide survey plus surveys of students, faculty, and research officers—we received more than 5,000 responses with feedback on the significant opportunities for Columbia in the coming years and the experiences and qualities the next president should possess. We read each comment that was shared. The input from these surveys and the various meetings with the four advisory committees, the Policy and Planning Committee, and the Senate Executive Committee will inform the onboarding of President Shafik.

To everyone who gave us their time and shared input and ideas, thank you. By working together across the University and with our many stakeholders, we conducted a search not on behalf of any single group, but one that was in the overall interests of Columbia and with the very best result. Minouche Shafik is the right leader for Columbia’s next chapter.


Lisa Carnoy
Trustee Emerita and Chair of the Presidential Search Committee
Columbia University in the City of New York