Columbia University

Faculty of Arts and Sciences

History of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Columbia was formally established in 1991 as the organizational framework that unified the faculty across six schools. It was formed to be an administrative body to bring together the faculty of Columbia College, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the School of General Studies, School of the Arts, School of Professional Studies and until 2010, the School of International and Public Affairs under one roof.

During the late 19th century, the university advanced as a structure of separate schools and faculties defined respectively by the composition of the student body and the methodology or subject matter of scholarship. The structure we have today—an Executive Vice President who oversees the operation of five schools and is also Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences—is the result of decades of steps.

With the establishment of Columbia College in 1754, the university was built on a track of distinctions in academics with each faculty body advancing along individualized paths. Over many years, as departments of instruction and separate faculties multiplied, a struggle of deliberation on policy grew. For over a century, decentralization was the focal point of problems until a number of reports and committees were commissioned that recommended various structural changes . These recommendations bore not only a single faculty but also a shared leadership and governing committees that comprise the Faculty of Arts and Sciences today.

Once the institution of one faculty body was founded in 1987, a committee formed to give a voice to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences that would serve in an advisory capacity. Today known as the Policy and Planning Committee, it provides the executive committee guidance and advice on important university issues.