Established in 1988, the Society of Senior Scholars comprises a community of retired faculty from Columbia and, by invitation, from other institutions who wish to remain engaged in a scholarly and/or teaching life in their retirement. Established in 1988 at The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities, the Society is funded by grants from the Mellon Foundation and supplemented by gifts from other donors.

Housed in the Heyman Center building, the Society offers its members selective teaching appointments, research support, shared office space, and opportunities to organize workshops and public events.

Senior Scholars are also invited to participate in the Carl Hovde Friends Colloquia, which offers non-credit seminars on a broad range of humanities topics and which are open to Columbia alumni and to members of the general public.

The Society of Senior Scholars brings together scholar-teachers, who, after retirement, continue engaging in scholarly life at Columbia University.

Principles of Organization Governing the Columbia Society of Senior Scholars

The Society of Senior Scholars is governed by its Executive Committee (aka the Board). 

I. Authority and Responsibilities

 The Board establishes overall policies and procedures for the Society of Senior Scholars, including its own procedures for making decisions and allocating responsibilities to its members.  It elects a Chair, who serves a three-year term, renewable once. (The Chair must be a current member of the Board or have been a member within the three years prior to election). It approves the Society’s annual budget.

II. Membership

Any member of the Society of Senior Scholars may nominate any eligible retiree to join the Society of Senior Scholars.  Upon the majority approval of the Board, the prospective Senior Scholar is offered membership.

The Board shall normally comprise seven members: the Chair of the Board, the Executive Director of the Society of Senior Scholars, and five additional members drawn at large from its membership who serve five-year terms.  In years when there is one or more openings on the Board, the Board shall vote on nominations for each subsequent year’s incoming Board members at its May meeting.

III. Meetings and Electoral Procedures

The Board shall normally meet twice a year (September and May) and more often as business demands.  All members of the Board shall be given due notice of the time and place of all meetings. A financial report will be presented by the Executive Director once a year to the Board for its approval.

Any member of the Senior Scholars Society may nominate any eligible candidate for membership to the Board or to Chair the Board whenever a vacancy occurs. Nominees for the Board must be seconded to be considered for approval, and they must be approved by a majority of the Senior Scholars membership. The Chair shall likewise be elected by a majority of the Senior Scholars membership. In the event that either a position on the Board or the Chairship is contested, voting shall take place by a secret ballot conducted and be counted by the Executive Director, who will abstain in this instance from voting.

IV. Conflict of Interest

To avoid conflicts of interest and in compliance with University statutes, members of the Board will not participate in deliberations where such conflicts may arise.