Professor David Dinkins Fails to Convince West Harlem Community Groups of the Benefits in Columbia University’s Plans to Expand Its Campus

Since leaving office as mayor of New York City, David Dinkins has been a professor of public affairs at Columbia University. So when the university was obliged to present its plan for a $5.8 billion expansion of its campus into West Harlem, Professor Dinkins was assigned the task of soothing community relations and putting forth the university’s case for the expansion plan.

But Dinkins, who is the only African American to have been mayor of New York, was loudly booed while appearing at the community board meeting. The community board subsequently voted 17-1 against the Columbia plan.

Over the next 25 years, Columbia wants to expand its campus into the Manhattanville neighborhood of West Harlem in a wide swath of blocks stretching from 125th Street to 133rd Street, west of Broadway. Although Columbia has stated that it will not do so, some residents fear that the university, in collaboration with the Empire State Development Corporation, will use the power of eminent domain to take over properties from landlords.

Several groups, including one on campus, have formed to organize opposition to the expansion plan.