Avril Haines to Serve as Next Director of Columbia World Projects

May 26, 2020

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

headshot of a man with glasses in a dark suit and tie

I am writing now about the leadership of Columbia World Projects, a Columbia University initiative unique in American higher education. Since its launch in 2017, CWP has been led by Nick Lemann. I learned many years ago, when I first appointed him as Dean of Columbia Journalism School, that Nick is a person of extraordinary talents and capacities. A brilliant writer and analyst of American politics, a person of great thoughtfulness and wisdom, and a dedicated teacher, Nick went from the role of dean to the leader of our own Columbia Global Reports and then the founding Director of Columbia World Projects. From an idea to a functioning center of the University’s intellectual life and practical engagement with human problems, CWP was launched and forged in reality, and for this Nick deserves the credit and our thanks. 

And I am now equally pleased to say that Avril Haines will take over as the next Director of Columbia World Projects, as of July 1, 2020. In her current role as Deputy Director, Avril has been the principal architect and supervisor of CWP’s distinctive method for developing and managing projects. She herself embodies the capacities we seek in CWP—the ability to work successfully within and across the different realms of the academy and public life. Before becoming one of our most treasured citizens within Columbia, Avril served as President Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor and in several other top-level positions in his administration. Avril, with her unparalleled experience within and outside the University, is the ideal leader for this next chapter of CWP.

Columbia World Projects is at the center of our efforts to bring the University’s intellectual resources into more collaborative and productive engagement with answering calls for help in addressing the world’s problems. Thanks to Nick, and now to Avril, Columbia University is enlarging its mission. 


Lee C. Bollinger