Announcement of Columbia's Upcoming Role as host of ServiceNation Presidential Candidates Forum on Sept. 11

September 04, 2008

Dear fellow member of the Columbia community,

I am delighted to welcome you back for the new academic year with some exciting news. Columbia University has been selected to host “ServiceNation Presidential Candidates Forum” next Thursday evening as a partner in the ServiceNation Summit that will take place in New York on September 11-12.

On September 11, a day of remembrance that ServiceNation organizers intend for nonpartisan reflection on our obligations as citizens, we look forward to welcoming both Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama back to our campus for a nationally broadcast conversation in Alfred Lerner Hall about the future of national service moderated by TIME Magazine editor Richard Stengel and PBS NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff. Governor David Paterson is scheduled to provide a welcome to the event.

It is entirely fitting for us to become part of this two-day conclave that will bring together so many admired leaders in our country to consider ways to expand the scope and scale of successful service programs throughout the nation. Public service and active involvement in the issues facing our society have always been an essential part of Columbia's identity and academic mission. As a leading research university in our nation’s greatest urban center, ours is a campus of robust engagement in the life of our neighborhood and City, our nation and our world.  

Each year, thousands of Columbia students across all our schools, colleges and affiliates participate in hundreds of service learning, volunteer action and social entrepreneurship programs here in New York and across the globe. We look forward to having this very public event spark an ongoing conversation within our own University community about strategies to further enhance the role of service and citizenship in Columbia's academic mission.

Given our limited space, we will ensure that all seating available goes to students in our University community. Students will receive a follow-up email tomorrow with details regarding how to register for the ticket lottery.
While it will not be a presidential debate, but rather two individual conversations, this nonpartisan Forum is one of only a few times that John McCain and Barack Obama are scheduled to appear on the same stage during the general election campaign. We are delighted to be part of an event on a theme so important to all citizens and to Columbians.


Lee C. Bollinger