Vagelos Education Center (VEC)

VEC FAQ Bulletin #1: General Information
VEC FAQ Bulletin #2: Curriculum and Classroom Spaces
VEC FAQ Bulletin #3: Food Options and Other Features

VEC FAQ Bulletin #4: Extracurriculars and Other Questions
VEC FAQ Bulletin #5: Caring for Our New Space
VEC FAQ Update #1: Computers, Classrooms and Recycling
VEC FAQ Update #2: Printers, Vending Machines and Other Quiet Spaces
VEC FAQ Update #3: Whiteboards, Hilltop Cafe, Printers, Room Reservations and Wall Panels



General Information

When will the building open?

The VEC will officially open on Monday, August 15th, which is the first day of Orientation. The Office of Medical Education will complete its move from P&S into the VEC by Tuesday, August 2nd. Admissions will complete its move from P&S into the VEC by Thursday, August 4th. Final detail work on the building will still be ongoing, so until Monday August 15th, there will be limited access to the VEC for scheduled appointments, walk-in hours with Deans or staff in the Office of Medical Education, or work related to Orientation. We also ask for your patience in the first few weeks after the VEC opens as there may need to be some finishing touches made to the building.

For whose use is the building?

The VEC is open to all CUMC students and to CUMC and NYP faculty and professional staff. P&S and GSAS will have first priority to the VEC for teaching and events. Other members of the CUMC community and members of the Washington Heights community will also use the building for special events. The VEC facilities will be rented to outside organizations on occasion.

What are the building hours? How do we access the building?

The VEC will be open from 7:00 am to 11:00 pm, seven days a week. Students will gain entry by swiping their Columbia IDs at the turnstiles inside the Haven Avenue entrance. All occupants must vacate the building by 11:00 pm. Security will announce the building's closing at 10:45 pm and, again, at 11:00 pm. CUMC security will be responsible for ensuring the building is completely vacated after 11:00 pm. Please be respectful of their duties and follow their instructions.

What is in the new building?

Check out the information sheet at: Vagelos Education Center - Architectural Fact Sheet

  • Cellar: SIM Center reception and training facilities
  • Floor 1: Security desk, lobby, cafe and Admissions suite
  • Floor 2: Auditorium lower entrance, piano room, terrace
  • Floor 3: Auditorium upper entrance
  • Floor 4: Lecture hall, classrooms
  • Floor 5: Anatomy lab
  • Floor 6: Anatomy changing rooms, SIM Center training facilities
  • Floor 7: Classrooms, SIM Center training facilities
  • Floor 8: Classrooms, SIM Center training facilities
  • Floor 9: Classrooms
  • Floor 10: Cafe, Office of Medical Education (diversity/multicultural affairs and curriculum)
  • Floor 11: Office of Medical Education (reception, Vice Dean, student affairs and student research)
  • Floor 12: Classrooms
  • Floor 13: Classrooms
  • Floor 14: Student lounge, classrooms

How will the Office of Medical Education reception process work?

All visitors to the Office of Medical Education must first check in with the receptionist on the 11th floor. The receptionist will then direct the individual to the appropriate staff member and let that staff member know of the individual's arrival.

Who can use the 14th floor student lounge?

The student lounge is dedicated for the use of P&S and GSAS enrolled in P&S programs. Entry will be permitted to these students by using their Columbia IDs on the key card readers at the student lounge entries. The key card readers are currently being installed, so we will post signs about the student lounge use policies and ask that P&S and GSAS enrolled in P&S programs help make sure other CUMC students are aware of them.

Where can we can relax and socialize?

The major architectural feature of the VEC is the Study Cascade that runs up the entire South facade of the building. As you will see, the Cascade is fitted out with a variety of spaces including areas with couches, chairs and low tables; open spaces with tables and chairs for informal meetings; benches built into the Cascade itself; and counters with chairs. These spaces can also be used as study spaces. The Cascade itself is not designated a quiet study space, but we ask you to be mindful of your colleagues especially around exam times.

Which spaces should we use for quiet study and group study? Who can use them?

We have reserved several smaller classrooms for small group study for P&S students and a mix of smaller and larger classrooms for quiet study for P&S students during the hours of 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm, seven days a week. Room assignments will be set at the beginning of each term and posted outside each reserved room every day; these assignments and postings will be adjusted as needed. Please note that these spaces will be used on a first-come, first served basis. Please take your belongings with you when you vacate a room (even for breaks of 30 minutes or more) so it can be available for other students.



Curriculum and Classroom Spaces

How will we use the VEC throughout the four years of the Columbia curriculum?

Fundamentals courses will take place entirely in the VEC. During MCY, students will return to the VEC for M&P, shelf exams and Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs). In D&I, preparation for the Step 2 Clinical Skills exam and the Ready 4 Residency course will both be in the VEC. Of course, students are invited to relax, study and work together in the VEC throughout their time at P&S.

How will the auditorium be used and scheduled?

The main auditorium in the VEC spans the 2nd and 3rd floors on the south facade of the building and seats about 265 people. The 4th floor lecture hall is located right above the auditorium and seats up to 190 people. Lectures will be scheduled so that first- and second-year programming in the auditorium does not overlap. Turnaround times when one class exits the auditorium and another enters will be tight, so we will need students and faculty to be vigilant about starting and ending lectures on time and vacating the auditorium in an efficient, organized way.

Will we still use Echo360 for lecture recordings in the VEC?

Yes. Echo360 is the CUMC lecture capture platform and was integrated into the state-of-the-art A/V infrastructure in the VEC. Last year our curriculum team took over Echo360 scheduling and the problems with lecture capture dropped significantly. In the VEC, our team will also be in charge of room scheduling, so lecture capture problems that arose due to last minute room changes should not recur. As with all technological platforms, the Echo360 server may be out for maintenance and upgrades from time to time, but we will do our best to keep these from disrupting service for any longer than needed. Please continue to keep us informed of any problems you have in accessing lecture recordings so we can make sure to address any issues ASAP.

Because the VEC has lots of windows and glass, will we have problems with too much sun?

The VEC is wrapped in glass and offers views of Washington Heights, Inwood, the Hudson River, the Palisades, downtown Manhattan and, on clear days, almost all of Long Island. (And, yes, Towers 2 and 3!) The Study Cascade along the south facade of the building will have automated shades for glare control. The large classrooms along the north facade have manual shades. The smaller classrooms at the core of the building are surrounded on two sides in glass that will be frosted. All study and relaxation spaces will be light-filled when the built-in shades are raised.

How will simulation be integrated into our curriculum?

The Mary and Michael Jaharis Simulation Center (SIM Center) is a major training resource that integrates our standardized patient program, mannequin-based simulations and procedural skills training. Foundations Seminars and Tutorials will incorporate a sequence of OSCEs to help guide students in developing their clinical skills in preparation for the Major Clinical Year. Clerkship OSCEs will transition into the SIM Center over the coming year. The Step 2 Clinical Skills preparation program will launch in the SIM Center as will Ready 4 Residency simulations and skills sessions. The SIM Center staff is dedicated to providing enriching, positive learning experiences to all students and is happy to work with faculty and students to develop new curricular offerings that meet students’ needs.



Food Options and Other Features

What types of food options will we have in the VEC?

There will be two cafe areas in the building, a larger one in the 1st floor lobby and a smaller one on the 10th floor. Both cafes will be operated by Hilltop. The hours and food options available at each location are as follows:

  • 1st floor: The 1st floor cafe will be open from 7:00am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. In addition to things such as coffee, pre-made salads, packaged snacks, chips, and bottled drinks, the 1st floor cafe will also have some unique made-to-order offerings including salads; burritos and burrito bowls; and sweet and savory crepes.
  • 10th floor: The 10th floor cafe area will be open from 11:00am to 7:00pm, Monday through Friday. Offerings will be similar to what is currently offered at the Hilltop location on the 1st floor of the Black Building (e.g., espresso/coffee drinks, prepared sandwiches, sushi, chips, candies, protein bars, cookies, packaged snacks, etc.)

When will the cafe areas in the VEC open?

At present, the Hilltop cafes in the VEC are not expected to open until after Labor Day. We will share a more precise date as soon as it is available.

In which spaces are food and drinks allowed and in which spaces are they not allowed?

Food and drink will be allowed in the Study Cascade and all classrooms for as long as those spaces are treated with care and respect. If Facilities staff report that they are frequently cleaning up spills or throwing away food waste, or that chairs, tables/desks, and carpets have become damaged or stained because of food and drink spills, it may be necessary to change this policy and prohibit food and drink in areas that have been damaged. There is no food or drink allowed in the auditorium, the anatomy lab, or the SIM Center.

Will there be places to relax and eat lunch with a view of the neighborhood or the Hudson River?

Students will be able to sit and eat with views of Washington Heights and the Hudson River in the relaxation spaces all along the Study Cascade and on the West Lawn. The West Lawn and the Terrace at the top of the steps will be used for relaxation and events.

Does the VEC have a kiosk where we can check out laptops? Does it have copiers?

The VEC has a laptop kiosk on the east side of the 4th floor. It houses 24 laptops, which can be checked out by anyone with a CUMC ID. There are two copiers located next to the laptop kiosk.

Does the building have dedicated security and other staff?

There will be two security guards in the building at all times, one stationed at the main reception desk and one conducting rounds throughout the building. There will also be custodial staff and AV support staff assigned to the building.

Are there gender-neutral restrooms in the VEC?

Yes, there are single occupancy, gender-neutral facilities on the 2nd and 10th floors. Gendered, multi-occupancy facilities are located on all other floors of the VEC, with the exception of the 5th floor, which houses the Anatomy lab and has no restrooms. Students are invited to use restrooms according to their gender identity.

Is there a lactation room in the VEC?
The VEC does not include a lactation room. Currently, the CUMC campus provides the following lactation rooms (additional information is provided on the Office of Work/Life site-

  • Allan Rosenfield Building, 1st Floor
  • NYP Hospital, 17th Floor
  • School of Nursing, Georgian Building, 3rd Floor



Room Details


Allan Rosenfield Building

1st Floor

Sink in nearby bathroom / Refrigeration in room

24 hour access; 7 days / week

Presbyterian Hospital Building

17th Floor

Sink in nearby bathroom / Refrigeration in room

24 hour access; 7 days / week

The School of Nursing

Georgian Building
3rd floor

Sink and refrigerator nearby

24 hour access; 7 days / week



Extracurriculars and Other Questions

Can student groups reserve rooms in the new building when classes are not in session? When will we be able to reserve rooms in the new building for student club events?

Students will be able to reserve spaces in the VEC starting on August 15th, when the building officially opens. All reservation requests should go through the Director of Student Activities/P&S Club at least seven (calendar) days in advance of the event. Reservations for students groups will be made on a first-come, first-served basis if space is available. Reservations are not official until they have been approved and confirmed. While there will generally be no space rental fees for student events at the VEC, as always, student groups are responsible for any costs associated with catering, AV support during non-business hours, etc. Please consult the P&S Policy page for additional details about making reservations and using the space.

What is the situation for the Rachmaninoff piano? When will we have access to it?

The Rachmaninoff piano is stored in a specially-designed Piano Room, which is located on the second floor of the building, right outside the lower entrance to the auditorium. Access to the piano will be managed by P&S Club; students who are given permission to use the Piano Room will be able to access the piano whenever the VEC is open.

What are some of the coolest, little known features of the building?

While there are too many cool spaces in the VEC to list, here are two that are perhaps less known:

  • The white partition on the right side of the lobby. (If you stand back a bit and look closely, you will see that the holes spell out some very familiar words...)
  • The “hidden” staircase that links the hallway outside the 6th floor anatomy lockers to the anatomy lab.

What are your favorite spots so far?

It is very, very hard to choose just one spot, but everyone is starting to develop a favorite:

  • Dr. Drusin loves the Study Cascade, including its panoramic views.
  • Dr. Amiel loves the study steps between the 11th and 12th floor.
  • Dr. Mellman loves the student lounge on the 14th floor.
  • Tony Pillari loves the auditorium.


Caring for Our New Space

What does it mean to “Care for the VEC”?

The VEC is a state-of-the-art educational facility that will no doubt become a hallmark of the P&S experience. To “Care for the VEC” means, for students, faculty, staff, and visitors alike, to treat the building in way that demonstrates our gratitude to those who worked tirelessly to make the building a reality and our commitment to ensuring that those who come after the VEC’s “inaugural class” will have the same comfortable and fulfilling experiences in the VEC as those who were in the building on Day 1.

How do I “Care for the VEC”?

All users of the building can Care for the VEC by being conscientious about how we use the space and holding each other to the same high standards. In practice this means doing some very simple things – and reminding others that they should be doing them too:

  • Disposing of your own trash (including food) before you leave a space.
  • Helping dispose of trash from group events (including food) before you leave a space.
  • Cleaning up spills and/or reporting them to Facilities in a timely manner.
  • Reporting damage to the building and its contents (e.g., stained or damaged chairs, carpets, walls etc.) to Facilities in a timely manner.
  • Reaching out for support if AV technology is not functioning properly, rather than attempting to solve issues on your own. (Please see below for details on how to do this.)
  • Respecting the rules that govern the use of the VEC, including those related to hours of access, use of quiet and group study space, and room reservations, among others.
  • Bringing problems you discover (e.g., unclear signage, doors that don't close appropriately, Wi-Fi dead zones) to your Deans' Advisory Committee (DAC) representatives so they can compile and forward them to the Office of Education, which will triage them to the appropriate Facilities supervisors.

We should all treat the behaviors listed above as part of our own personal responsibility to the VEC and not as “someone else’s job” so that we can help ensure that everyone who uses the space has the same positive experience.

Who do I contact to get help related to custodial services?

Please call 305-HELP (4357) and select Option 3 for help with custodial services.

Who do I contact to get AV support?

Support on weekdays will be provided by two offices, depending on when and where it is needed.

Classrooms: Support for all classrooms will be provided by CUMC IT Classroom Management. To arrange for AV support from CUMC IT Classroom Management, please use a classroom phone or other phone to call 305-HELP (4357) and select Option 5. Requests submitted from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm on weekdays will be covered by support staff stationed in the VEC who will respond on the same business day. Please note that requests for support for CUMC classes listed with the Registrar's office will take priority over requests to support other activities. Requests submitted after 3:00 pm on weekdays will be covered by staff located elsewhere in CUMC, who will respond either the same day or the next business day based on availability.

Auditorium and 4th Floor Lecture Hall (Classes Listed with the Registrar): Support for all CUMC classes listed with the Registrar occurring in the auditorium and the 4th floor lecture hall will be provided by CUMC IT Classroom Management. To arrange for AV support from CUMC IT Classroom Management, please call 305-HELP (4357) and select Option 5. Requests submitted from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm on weekdays will be covered by support staff stationed in the VEC who will respond on the same business day. Requests submitted after 3:00 pm on weekdays will be covered by staff located elsewhere in CUMC, who will respond either the same day or the next business day based on availability. Support for all other activities will be provided by the SIM Center AV Technician, according to the guidelines in the next bullet.

SIM Center and Anatomy Lab: Support for all parts of the SIM Center (8th, 7th, and 6th floors and the cellar) and the anatomy lab will be provided by the SIM Center AV Technician. To arrange for AV support from the SIM Center, please call 305-8515. Requests submitted from 8:00am to 5:00pm on weekdays will be addressed on the same business day. Requests submitted after 5:00pm on weekdays will be addressed either the same day or the next business day based on availability.

As is the case with other buildings on campus, neither CUMC IT Classroom Management nor the SIM Center will provide dedicated AV support in the evenings or during weekends. Anyone planning evening and weekend events requiring AV support should discuss their needs with the VEC room scheduler who will recommend our preferred vendors.

Can you please clarify the VEC food and drink policy for the Auditorium?

There is no food or drink allowed in the Auditorium. This rule was established in the interests of keeping the room free from trash, stains, and odors and to preserve its appearance for many years to come. Students are allowed to bring water into the Auditorium, but only if the water is in sealed containers, such as water bottles, travel mugs, or other similar containers that can be closed tightly. These sealed containers must be stored in students' bags or backpacks. Students should dispose of all other drinks and all food before entering the Auditorium. We have asked Facilities to place trash cans outside of the doors of the Auditorium to make it easier to do so.



FAQ Update #1

Are there computers we can use in the VEC?

There is a laptop kiosk on the 4th floor (around to your left as you exit the elevators). It will house 24 laptops, which can be checked out by anyone with a CUMC ID. Please note that the laptops do not come with power cords.

When can we start using the classrooms?

As soon as you like! All reservation requests for club activities should go through the Director of Student Activities and P&S Club at least seven (calendar) days in advance of the event. We have also reserved several classrooms each evening (6pm to 10pm) for quiet study and small group study. These reservations, which are subject to change, will be noted on the screens outside the reserved classrooms. For the Fall 2016, these reservations are as follows:

  • Small Group Study Spaces: Rooms 701 A, 701 B, 801 A, 801 B, 901 A, and 901 B
  • Quiet Study Spaces: 1402 and 1403

We expect demand for classrooms and other spaces in the VEC to be quite high, so students are asked to only use rooms if they have a reservation.

Is there a plan to implement recycling in the VEC?

There are recycling bins throughout the building (they are located behind the rectangular, metal rimmed “chutes” you see in the walls) but they are not yet labelled. Temporary signs should go up on Monday, August 22nd and permanent signs will go up shortly after that.



FAQ Update #2

Are there printers in the VEC? If so, are they ready to be used?

There are printers located on the 4th floor of the VEC and they are ready to be used. They are located around to your left as you exit the elevators on the 4th floor. The following link will take you to instructions on connecting to the Pharos printing system, which runs the printers:

Are there vending machines in the VEC?

There are no plans to have vending machines in the VEC. Work continues on the Hilltop Cafe spaces in the lobby and on the 10th floor. We will report out to everyone when we have an expected opening date from Hilltop.

Are there any other quiet spaces other than classrooms? How do I know if a space is reserved?

A number of classrooms have been reserved each evening for quiet study and a number for group study. Students are also welcome to use the Knowledge Center in the Hammer building for quiet study. There are currently no plans to designate any portion of the Study Cascade or other parts of the VEC as quiet study space. The touch screens outside of each classroom in the VEC will let you know the reservations that have been made for each room for the day. (Please note that these screens cannot be used to make reservations. All reservations much be made through the VEC room scheduler.) Students should be respectful of others’ reservations and plan to leave the before the next reservation begins.



FAQ Update #3

When will we be able to use the whiteboards in the smaller (south side) classrooms? When will the white boards in the larger (north side) classrooms be completed?

The whiteboards in the smaller (south side) classrooms are currently available for use. We would like to remind everyone that only one wall - the white wall adjacent to the wall on which the screen is mounted - in each small classroom is a whiteboard; other surfaces in those rooms were not designed to be written on. We are working with the contractor and hope that work will begin within the next week or so on painting the doors of the closets in the larger (north side) classrooms to convert them into white boards. The white board paint takes about five days to dry and cure fully before it can be written on; we will post signs indicating when each room is ready to be used. We will also be installing shelves in each classroom to allow us to store white board supplies. 

When will the Hilltop Cafe locations be open?

A construction firm is being selected to build out the cafe spaces in the VEC. This work will need to take place at times when it will have minimal impact on building usage (e.g., nights, weekends and/or holidays). Our current best estimate is that the cafes will be open on about February 1. We will send out updated details as soon as we know more.

Can you update us on progress with getting more printers on the 7th floor?

New printers were ordered several weeks ago; one of them is a color machine. They will be located on the south side of the 7th floor along the Study Cascade. We expect them to be delivered and installed in the near future. We will send out a notification when they are available for use.

What do I do when someone who does not have a reservation is using a space that has been reserved by my group? What about when a group has not left a room when they were supposed to?

You should feel free to remind anyone using a space that you have reserved and they have not that they should relocate. The touch screen outside of each classroom shows all the reservations for each room for the day, so you can use the screen as a resource. Since all classes end 10 minutes before the hour or the half hour, there is a general expectation that that is also when people will leave any reserved room so that the people running the next class, event, etc., have time to get set up. You should feel free to remind everyone of this expectation. You should also email if you encounter these type of issues frequently, so we can track them and see if there is a larger problem we need to address. 

Who should we contact if we need help moving wall panels?

You should contact Facilities Management by dialing 5-HELP. The wall requires tools to be used to correctly operate them. Manually moving the wall will damage it and risk injury. Students should not try to move the panels themselves as you run the risk of being injured or damaging the panels if you have not been properly trained on how they operate.