Announcement from Provost Alan Brinkley, May 11, 2006

TO: Officers of the University
FROM: Alan Brinkley, Provost
SUBJECT: Faculty Housing Policies

Over the last several years, the University has significantly increased its capacity to house faculty and students in Columbia owned or leased apartments. The recent opening of a new Columbia residence at 103 rd Street and Broadway brings to a close a period in which we have built three major new buildings (2828 Broadway, 2700 Broadway, and Lenfest Hall), acquired one other (44 Morningside Drive), and purchased significant numbers of apartments in several additional buildings, most notably 455 Central Park West. These new acquisitions have added nearly 500 apartments to our housing stock, bringing the total to just over 6,300 apartments. About half of the new units are for faculty. Almost all of these apartments are now occupied, and we do not anticipate adding any significant number of new units within the next few years.

As a result, we now face at least several years in which the supply of faculty apartments is likely to be very tight. It is important, therefore, that we make clear what our policies are for allotting apartments during this period of scarcity. This statement of policy replaces the Provost’s statement of September 22, 2000, but does not significantly change the policies outlined in that earlier document.

Housing allocation policies are determined by the administration’s Housing Priorities Committee, in consultation with the University Senate’s Housing Priorities Committee. The administration’s Housing Priorities Committee, which I chair, implements these policies. It includes the deans, or representatives of deans, of the larger schools as well as a number of relevant administrators. In addition to helping shape broad policy, the Committee is charged with assigning individual apartments to senior faculty members. (Assignment of apartments to graduate students, post-docs, and junior faculty is handled by the Residential Operations Staff of Columbia University Facilities according to guidelines set by the Housing Priorities Committee.)

The Provost, working with the members of the Housing Priorities Committee, and the delegated staff members of Residential Operations are the only people authorized to promise and assign University housing. Individual deans and department chairs do not have authority to promise apartments to people they are recruiting or retaining without prior permission from the Provost. Promises made without such prior permission are not binding on the Provost or the Housing Priorities Committee.

The allocation of apartments is determined by the following set of priorities:

– All full-time faculty(1), with the exception of those in the Columbia University Medical Center with “clinical” as prefixes to their titles, are eligible for housing.

– Our first priority is to provide housing to newly-hired professorial-rank faculty. Within that group, we give highest priority to those whose recruitment is considered by the deans to be most critical to the plans of their schools. We also give high priority to faculty whom deans have set as a priority to retain.

– We try to accommodate requests by newly-tenured faculty for better housing, but these requests are met only after we have met the needs of faculty who are being recruited or retained.

– Other faculty who wish to transfer within the system are eligible to do so, but they receive a lower priority than that given to the groups listed above.

– Faculty who own apartments or houses in New York City or its suburbs but wish to move into Columbia housing receive lower priority than other faculty.

– Family size is an important factor in assigning apartments, and we make every effort to provide larger units to faculty with children. But the size of a family is not by itself a determinative factor in assigning apartments.

– The rents charged for apartments are not determined by nor adjusted to the incomes of the tenants.

– Faculty do not receive preference for apartments just because they have identified available units that they would like. All assignments are made by the Housing Priorities Committee after weighing all pending requests.

Faculty(2) who already reside in Columbia apartments should be aware of the following policies governing their period of residence:

– University apartments must be the principal residence of the Columbia employees who occupy them. All those found to violate this requirement will be required to vacate their apartments.

– In the case of divorce or separation, the spouse or partner who remains in a University apartment must be the person who name is on the lease. A person not named in the lease may not retain the apartment even if he or she is otherwise eligible for University housing and must, instead, go into the housing allocation process outlined above.

– Faculty retirees who signed a Columbia lease on or before June 30, 1989 may stay in their apartments for the remainder of their lives, as may their surviving spouses or domestic partners. Faculty retirees who signed a Columbia lease on or after July 1, 1989, and who have served in a full-time capacity for at least fifteen years, may stay in their Columbia apartments for three years after retirement – and longer in Columbia housing if they are willing to transfer to smaller units.

I understand the tremendous importance of housing to our ability to recruit and retain faculty, and I understand as well the strong emotions that individuals and families bring to the choice of a home. We will do everything we can to make this process as fair as possible and as sensitive as possible to the needs of applicants, while at the same time serving the academic needs of the University. But it is also important that we all recognize that our supply of housing, large as it is, will never be able to satisfy the wishes and needs of everyone. We are aggressively exploring possibilities both for expanding our own housing stock and for creating other attractive options for housing faculty. In the meantime, I must ask for your patience and understanding as we deal with the very difficult decisions that our present housing circumstances will require us to make.


1 and all full-time officers of the library

2 and all full-time officers of the library