Giuliani, Columbia Are in Talks On Urban Leadership
Hotly Contested Files Could End Up at Ivy League School
By JULIA LEVY
Confidantes and colleagues of Rudolph Giuliani are in
high-level discussions with Columbia University about
creating a new program on municipal government and giving
the Ivy League school copies of the former mayor's hotly
contested archives. The Giuliani Program in Urban Leadership
would offer full scholarships
to undergraduate and graduate students from around the
world who are interested in city government.
It would have at least two endowed chairs one
dedicated to a professor who will lead the program and
mentor the students, and one for a professor who would
oversee the students' theses and other academic projects.
"This should be very exciting for kids throughout
the country to be in New York, which is the capital
of the world, and to be exposed to this kind of dramatic
program," said Saul Cohen, president of the Rudolph
W. Giuliani Center for Urban Affairs, a private organization
run by Mr. Giuliani's friends.
The university's library would also house microfiche
and digital copies of the Giuliani administration's archives
which have been under fire since boxes of documents
were spirited to a warehouse in Queens in the final hours
of Mr. Giuliani's term instead of going directly to the
city's Department of Records and Information Services.
Mr. Giuliani probably won't be a professor at Columbia,
according to Mr. Cohen. But he'll host any urban affairs
conferences the program runs.
"[Columbia] would be delighted to see him play
a role because he has unparalleled experience," Mr.
Cohen said. "But the day-to-day program and teaching
will be left with the academics."
The Giuliani center started raising money for the new
program in December with a cocktail party at the former
mayor's apartment. Donors have handed over about $400,000,
according to Mr. Cohen.
He said the program would cost about $25 million, but
the center would probably have to raise between $5 million
and $10 million to convince the university to approve
the Giuliani program.
The Giuliani center is also putting together a board
of major business, political, and academic figures, and
Mr. Cohen said he hopes that by the end of June they will
be "moving forward with the program."
A spokeswoman for Columbia, Eileen Murphy, said the
university has been involved in "some preliminary
discussions" with Mr. Giuliani's representatives
about forming an institute and housing the mayor's archives.
"It is too early to speculate" about theprogram's
specifics, she said.
"Columbia has expressed a lot of interest,"
Mr. Cohen said, adding that the Giuliani center thinks
Columbia is a perfect place for the new program.
Since Mr. Giuliani's term ended in December 2001, a
group of his allies has been trying to put together a
program like the one currently being talked about with
Columbia. In the course of its inquiries, the center has
approached New York University, Fordham, the New School,
Baruch, and Columbia.
"Columbia would be the best choice," Mr. Cohen
said. "It's a major world university. They, certainly,
of all the schools, have the most international reputation."
Because of its worldwide cachet, Columbia would be able
to attract international as well as American students
interested in city governments, he said. He added that
Columbia has "tremendous library resources"
that use advanced computer systems which would
benefit the Giuliani archives.
Mike Wallace, director of the Gotham Center for New
York City History, who has been one of the leading critics
of the way Mr. Giuliani has treated his administration's
archives, says the papers are "tainted by having
been taken out of city control."
Moreover, he said he doesn't understand why Columbia
would be interested in keeping copies of the Giuliani
archives, since they'll be digitized and nonexclusive.
But he said he wasn't surprised Mr. Giuliani would choose
a private institution over a public one.
"These guys are privateers," he said. "Giuliani
was at loggerheads with City University for most of his
Janet Linde, the representative of the Archivist Roundtable
of Metropolitan New York, an organization of more than
350 professional archivists, said it seems like working
out deals with Columbia and duplicating records for their
private collection might be delaying the archives' return
to the department of records.
"If Columbia wants to acquire a collection like
that, it's up to them," she said. "But I think
it's unfortunate if doing this has impeded or delayed
public access to the records."
The Giuliani center says it is spending about $3 million
money the city government doesn't have to
set a new standard for archiving city records by organizing
the documents and making them more accessible to New Yorkers.