Announcing New Office of Academic and Community Partnerships

Dear Colleagues:

Service to our community is fundamental to who we are at CUIMC. That commitment manifests in diverse partnerships that leverage our strengths and the strengths of our neighbors to create better health throughout Washington Heights and Northern Manhattan. Today, as part of that ongoing mission, I am excited to announce that Sandra Harris will help oversee this important work as Vice President for Community Affairs & Partnership Engagement in the newly established CUIMC Office of Academic and Community Partnerships.

Bringing together personnel from the offices of Government and Community Affairs, Community Service Programs, and the Vice Dean for Community Health, OACP will serve as the central office for advancing the medical center’s community service mission. As we have worked through strategic planning efforts, a priority that arises again and again is to build and strengthen bidirectional relationships in our neighborhood. This new office will serve as the front door to those important connections, both for people within CUIMC and partners in the community. For CUIMC constituents, OACP will be a rallying point and support system for the incredible amount of community-oriented work happening throughout the four medical center schools. And for our neighbors, it will be a place to find guidance, support, and resources to create new mutually beneficial partnerships in the lab, clinic, and classroom. Altogether, OACP is part of a broader coordinated effort to strengthen the community-facing research, clinical care, and service missions of CUIMC—all in service to supporting better community health.


I am so pleased to have Sandra leading the way. She has served Columbia University for 25 years in various roles, most recently as Associate Vice President of Government and Community Affairs. In this capacity, Sandra has been responsible for maintaining community relationships, developing new partnerships, and promoting university programs that directly impact the health and well-being of the Northern Manhattan community. We are so grateful to have Sandra and her deep experience to help lead this work in its next evolution. We look forward to her partnering with Vice Dean for Community Health Olajide Williams, MD, MS, and Associate Dean for Community Service Rafael Lantigua, MD, as we look for new ways to strengthen ties to our community.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Ross Frommer for his service as head of the Office of Government and Community Affairs. As GCA evolves into OACP, Ross will continue in an expanded role as Vice President for Government Affairs at CUIMC. Going forward, Ross will be partnering more closely with colleagues on the Morningside campus to help positively influence policy and maintain partnerships with policymakers and elected officials. Government Affairs and OACP will continue to work together closely on projects of mutual interest.

Please join me in thanking Sandra, Jide, Rafi, Ross, and all of our community-facing colleagues for all they do in this space. We look forward to strengthening our connections with our neighbors and seeing what we can accomplish together.

All my best,

Katrina Armstrong, MD
Dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons
Executive Vice President for Health and Biomedical Sciences, Columbia University