Great American Research Universities
and How They Got That Way
Special from The Record
Jonathan R. Cole came to Columbia 50 years ago this fall, he says, “as a little freshman wearing a beanie, and I’ve never been able to cut the umbilical cord.” Indeed, he went from student to Ph.D. to sociology professor to vice president of Arts and Sciences and ultimately University provost and dean of faculties, a post he held for 14 years, from 1989 to 2003.
Now as the John Mitchell Mason Professor of the University, he has taken his research specialty—the sociology of science—and his intimate knowledge of how higher education operates and has produced a new book on the future of the American research university.
In The Great American University: Its Rise to Preeminence, Its Indispensable National Role, and Why It Must Be Protected (Public Affairs Books) Cole discusses how these institutions became the nation’s leading source of economic growth and social welfare, and why universities face a host of challenges that include budget cuts, political interference and even changing cultural mores that could lead to their loss of true distinction. In short, Cole wanted to describe how “the discoveries, inventions, medical miracles and better mousetraps have changed our lives without us adequately realizing where these discoveries came from and how they were made.”
—by Record Staff
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In Memoriam: Joseph F. Traub
Professor Joseph F. Traub, founder of the Computer Science department, died Monday, August 24, 2015 in Santa Fe, NM. He was 83. Most recently the Edwin Howard Armstrong Professor of Computer Science, Traub was an early pioneer in the field.
Traub's work on optimal algorithms and computational complexity applied to continuous scientific problems.