The Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Programs (OVPAP), established in July of 2014, is responsible for:
- Overseeing the University's academic programs
- Monitoring of educational partnerships with US and foreign universities and organizations
- Managing University accreditation
- Advancing global and interdisciplinary programs across the University
- Administering Presidential Teaching Awards for faculty and graduate student instructors
- Facilitating interschool fellowships for graduate students
- Supporting faculty development
Overseeing the University’s academic programs
There are several levels of oversight and review for new educational programs (i.e. Bachelor's, Master's, doctoral degrees, and certificates), both within the University and by external agencies. OVPAP is responsible for ensuring that all new programs, and changes to programs, go through the proper approval processes, are properly registered with New York State, and meet all standards and requirements of accreditors and federal and state agencies.
Monitoring of educational partnerships with US and foreign universities and organizations
Students at Columbia have a wide range of opportunities to further their studies in the US and globally through a variety of joint programs, exchanges, and study abroad options. Formal agreements are essential to foster these educational relationships between Columbia and other institutions. OVPAP provides guidance and consultation on creating such agreements, and must approve all such agreements prior to their signing by the Provost.
Managing University accreditation
Quality assurance in the United States is conducted through accreditation by non-governmental regional accrediting bodies. Columbia is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). Columbia's ten-year reaccreditation review will occur in 2015-2016. As part of this effort, the university is conducting a self-study review on the topic of the globalization of a Columbia education, an opportunity to explore a core part of Columbia's mission. Re-accreditation further involves a major review of documents and evidence to demonstrate compliance with MSCHE's "Standards of Excellence."
Advancing global and interdisciplinary programs across the University
The Office of the Provost supports a wide range of initiatives that involve multiple schools and partnerships around the world. In collaboration with Columbia Global Centers, OVPAP is responsible for managing one such initiative, the President’s Global Innovation Fund. Launched in March 2013, it is designed as a venture fund to enable the development of new projects and research collaborations with the network of eight Columbia Global Centers, in order to increase global opportunities for research, teaching, and service. Funded projects are highly collaborative, engage faculty and students across University departments and schools, and partner with other academic institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and research consortia to address important global issues.
There has been tremendous growth and interest in interdisciplinary educational and research efforts across the University. However, logistical challenges can hinder the progress and sucess of these initiatives. The Office of Academic Programs works closely with schools, departments, centers, and institutes to reduce barriers and facilitate greater participation in cross-school, cross-boundary academic programs.
Administering Presidential Teaching Awards for faculty and graduate students
The Presidential Teaching Awards honor the best of Columbia’s teachers. There are two award categories: one for faculty and one for graduate student instructors (teaching assistants). Each year, nominations are solicited from the Columbia community and winners are recommended to the President by the awards committee. Winners are announced in advance of commencement celebrations in May.
Facilitating interschool fellowships for graduate students
In 2014-2015, as part of its developing role in interdisciplinary activities across the university, OVPAP began to facilitate two interschool fellowships. These are the Lemann Foundation Interschool Fellowship and the Dolores Zohrab Liebmann Fellowship. The Lemann Fellowship seeks to advance positive social change in Brazil by providing financial assistance to graduate students who demonstrate a commitment to addressing crucial development challenges facing Brazil (http://www.columbia.edu/cu/vpaa/fellowships/lemann.html). The Liebmann Fellowships provide funding for graduate study in any recognized field of study in the humanities, social sciences, or natural sciences, or for independent research or study projects (https://www.college.columbia.edu/students/fellowships/catalog/liebmann-fund-fellowships).
Supporting faculty development
The Office of the Provost is committed to supporting leadership training opportunities for faculty as a pathway to enhancing academic governance and leadership at Columbia. OVPAP is responsible for managing two of these programs. The Provost Leadership Fellows program is designed to provide faculty members with insight into the University’s institutional workings, professional development training, guidance on positioning academic units to thrive, and opportunities to strengthen peer networks across campus. Senior faculty members from both campuses are selected for two-year terms. The first cohort was named in 2013 and the second in 2015. The Provost’s Academic Leadership Institute, relaunched in fall 2016, was created to help Morningside department chairs, vice deans, division and institute directors, and heads of other academic units develop and strengthen skill sets needed to lead academic units.
OVPAP helps to support several faculty fellowship and exchange programs which include: Sovern/Columbia Affiliated Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome; Tsunoda Senior Fellowship Program at Waseda University in Tokyo; Faculty Exchanges at École Polytechnique, Sciences Po and Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, and Alliance Visiting Professorship; and, Alliance Short-term Visiting Professorship at Pantheon-Sorbonne.