Columbia and NYU Faculty and Staff Step Up and Out

In a friendly physical activity competition, the two universities have fun while connecting with their colleagues.

Daniela Elazari and Kamila Pavezzi
November 05, 2023

Columbia University’s Office of Work/Life held its annual faculty and staff Step Challenge from October 2 to October 20, 2023. This year, the Office of Work/Life partnered with its colleagues at New York University to engage in a little friendly competition with the Uptown/Downtown University Step Challenge, in which the two universities competed to see which one would have the highest total average steps by the end of the challenge. And the winner by only 39 steps? Columbia.

Staff and faculty walking around Columbia's Morningside campus as part of the Uptown/Downtown University Step Challenge.

Step challenges have been a key part of the Work/Life well-being program for many years because they increase physical activity, build social connections, and provide health education to participants. This Step Challenge was hosted on MoveSpring, a mobile app, where 575 Columbia University affiliates joined together as one team, while also competing for individual prizes. Using the app, participants simply logged their steps and converted other physical activities like yoga and biking into steps to contribute to their overall goal. Participants also encouraged each other through the chat function with words of motivation and photos of their walking routes and their four-legged walking buddies. Even President Minouche Shafik and Interim Provost Dennis Mitchell joined in by leading a walk for participants on the Morningside campus.

By the end of the challenge, Columbia clocked a total average of 185,117 steps, just squeaking past NYU with 185,078 steps.

Participants are already talking about next year’s challenge, but are also happy just to get out there and move and meet people. “It was a lovely way to feel connected to colleagues and motivation to get moving,” said Melissa Smey, associate dean and executive director at Columbia University School of the Arts. Thanks NYU for your partnership!