Columbia University

Engineered for a New Century
"Browse. Recognize. Translate.
It’s all about the text."
— Michael Collins
Support for faculty from distinguished alumni helps ensure the Engineering School’s leadership in the digital age.

Michael Collins is a pioneer in the field of statistical natural language processing, or NLP. His work explores how computer technology can dissect human language — through automatic translation, speech recognition, and refined search processes. “There is tremendous strength in computer science and related areas at Columbia, including a huge amount of talent in natural language processing, machine learning, and other areas of artificial intelligence,” Collins said. “I’m thrilled to be at Columbia Engineering during such an exciting time.”

Collins was recruited to Columbia Engineering from MIT to fill a newly established chair funded by University Trustee Vikram S. Pandit and a matching donation from fellow Trustee Armen Avanessians and his wife, Janette Avanessians.

Meet The Donor: Vikram Pandit '76SEAS, '77SEAS, '80BUS, '86BUS

Vikram Pandit '76SEAS, '77SEAS, '80BUS, '86BUS is Chief Executive Officer of Citigroup, the global bank which serves clients, institutions, and governments in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions.


Pandit, a University Trustee since 2003, serves on the Board of Overseers at Columbia Business School and is a member of the executive steering committee for The Columbia Campaign. He holds BS and MS degrees in electrical engineering, and an MPhil and a PhD in finance from Columbia University.


Before Citi, he founded the hedge fund Old Lane Partners after more than two decades at Morgan Stanley where he rose to the post of President and Chief Operating Officer of the institutional securities and investment banking businesses. Prior to a career in finance, he taught at Indiana University.


Meet The Donor: Armen Avanessians ’83SEAS

Armen Avanessians ’83SEAS, a managing director at Goldman Sachs, serves as a University Trustee and co-chair of The Columbia Campaign, and is also Chair Emeritus of the Columbia Engineering Board of Visitors. Along with his wife, Janette, Avanessians committed matching funds that helped complete a major initiative — the raising of $30 million to establish 10 new endowments for engineering and applied science faculty.


The chairs supported by the Avanessians gift and other donors will help bring the total of new endowed Columbia Engineering professorships to 20 — almost doubling the number of named positions available and greatly enhancing Columbia Engineering’s efforts to recruit and retain the best faculty in key research areas from around the world. Donors to these chairs share one common goal, according to Mr. Avanessians: “Helping Columbia Engineering take a significant step forward to fulfill its potential as one of the world’s leading engineering institutions.”



Published: June 2011