FSSI Event Continues to Raise Funds

The Faculty and Staff Scholarship Initiative event exceeded expectations and continues to raise funds for students in need.

By the end of the night, the Faculty and Staff Scholarship Initiative (FSSI) had raised enough to activate a community match grant from Board of Trustee Andreas Waldburg-Wolfegg. Now until the end of August, all money toward the FSSI scholarship will be matched dollar for dollar up to $27,000. With this generous match, Columbia could raise more than $100,000 to help students graduate.

In partnership with Columbia’s Development and Alumni Relations (DAR) Office, the community match shows how vibrant the Columbia community’s culture of engagement and giving has become, with students reaping the rewards.

“This community match helps to make this year’s efforts really significant,” says Kim Livingstone ’92, executive assistant in Strategic Marketing and Communications. “But more importantly, I hope it encourages people to consider giving a little more, knowing that the students will benefit twofold.” Livingstone cites the strengthened partnership with the DAR Office as one of many factors that distinguished this year’s FSSI event and its success.

There were many ways to give toward the fund that night: a silent auction, money collected in various places throughout the event space, and private donations given before the event.

“We share a common goal. Whether you are faculty or staff, we are collectively here to help ensure the success of our students." —Anjali Julka MA '98, Senior Communications Manager

The silent auction was filled with a variety of items, such as an original print by Design Associate Professor and frequent New Yorker contributor Ivan Brunetti. There were also a number of “unique experiences,” such as a tour of the Jackson Park Harbor inspired by The Devil in the White City donated by Communication Associate Professor Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin.

The stage was filled with a wide range of performances, from a live radio drama to a Michael Jackson tribute by Communication Associate Professor Shanita Akintonde. Audio Arts and Acoustics Associate Professor Peter Xinya Zhang wowed the crowd with his opera singing. Zhang, who was accompanied by Music Composition student Sylvia Zhou, also served on this year’s FSSI committee, which is made up of various faculty and staff members who volunteered their time to organize the event. “This is such a supportive, collegial environment to be a part of,” says Zhang. “I think events like this really raise awareness among our community and shows how much passion we all share for our students.”

Peter Zhang sings opera at FSSI event.Audio Arts and Acoustics Associate Professor and FSSI committee member Peter Xinya Zhang accompanied by student Sylvia Zhou. Photo: Heather De Guia Aguilar

Journalism alum and News Office Senior Communications Manager Anjali Julka MA ’98 performed Indian folk and Bollywood dance. She encouraged the crowd to join her, and many gathered near the front of the stage. Julka, who also serves as the director of Chitrahar Cultural Academy and teaches dance classes at Old Town School of Folk Music, has been performing on stage, TV, and radio, for more than 25 years.

“I wanted to contribute to the initiative in some way and thought ‘if students could experience even one iota of the kind of opportunities I’ve had as an alum, it would be worth it,’” says Julka. “We share a common goal. Whether you are faculty or staff, we are collectively here to help ensure the success of our students. So, what do we all have that we can bring to the table?”

Clearly, the answer is talent.

“FSSI and the event was a great display of the vibrant community we have here at Columbia,” says Livingstone, who has worked at the college for more than 12 years. “Giving back to our students makes all the hard work worth it.”

Students participate at the FSSI event. With the generous community match grant, Columbia could raise more than $100,000 to help students graduate. Photo: Heather De Guia Aguilar

To learn more about giving to Columbia students, visit the Faculty and Staff Community Challenge page.