CUSP Structure and Staff

Image of CUSP Staff

CUSP staff from left to right: Jackie M. Hayes, Chanda Bennett, Lavinia Lorch, Maria Dimitropoulos (absent: Aileen Forbes)


Senior Assistant Dean, Center for Student Advising, and Director, Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program -

Born and raised on the Columbia campus, Lavinia Lorch earned her B.A. summa cum laude from Barnard College as a Senior Scholar and her PhD in Classics from Columbia University where she taught both Latin and Literature Humanities. Lorch’s teaching career includes Latin and Greek at Vassar College and French at New York’s New School for Social Research as well as language and literature classes in several private city high schools. She is the recipient of the Mary Isabel Sibley Fellowship for Greek Studies, the Lawrence H. Chamberlain Fellowship, the President’s Fellowship, the Murray Fellowship for the Humanities, and the Mary Allison Prize for General Excellence in Scholarship. She has published on Euripides as well as Ovid and Dante, has translated poetry from Greek, Italian, and French, has lectured both in the States and abroad, and played the lead role in Euripides’ Medea performed off Broadway in ancient Greek. In 2008, in recognition of her contribution to French education, the French Republic bestowed on her the honor of Chevalier de l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques.

Lorch’s academic interests lie in relating and applying the lessons of classical literature and philosophy to real world issues.

In the Fall of 2000, Lorch was hired to design, implement, and direct the Scholars Program at Columbia College and the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. Until 2005 she also directed the university’s Fellowships office which prepares and advises students for prestigious national fellowships. Lorch’s previous experience in educational administration includes ten years working in New York City's private school system, specifically in bilingual bicultural settings. She served as the founding Headmistress of La Scuola New York (now La Scuola d’Italia), and later worked at the Lycée Français de New York as Director of the English Program, Director of Admissions, and Academic and Administrative Director. Believing in the philosophy of educating the complete individual, Lorch focuses on implementing interdisciplinary projects and paracurricular programs in collaboration with colleagues and professionals in diverse fields.

Lorch spends weekends at her Catskills New York farm with her husband, Michael van Biema, and their children, Fiamma and Tristan, raising a barnful of animals including llamas, alpacas, a donkey, peacocks, and chickens.


Advising Dean, Berick Center for Student Advising, and Assistant Director, Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program -

Chanda Bennett is a native New Yorker, born and raised in Brooklyn. Chanda earned her B.S. in Natural Resources from Cornell University and her graduate degrees (M.A., M.Phil, and Ph.D.) in Conservation Biology and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Columbia University. Her dissertation focused on the population genetics of the invasive small Indian mongoose, which allowed her to examine species distribution patterns in novel environments in the Caribbean and Hawaiian islands. Her work has been published in such scholarly journals as Conservation Biology, PLoS One, and Mitochondrial DNA. As an educator and life long learner, Chanda taught on the subjects of conservation biology, urban biodiversity, and marine conservation while leading also citizen science research projects in NYC.

Prior to joining the CSA and CUSP teams in 2015, Chanda spent time reconnecting people to nature as the Manager of Education at the WCS New York Aquarium; caring for wild exotic animals as an Animal Keeper at the Prospect Park Zoo; and using outdoor spaces as learning labs as an Urban Park Ranger. Chanda is the recipient of the Audubon's Toyota Together Green Fellowship and served on the Board of The School for Field Studies. Her love for the outdoors keeps her very active. On her spare time, you can find Chanda studying urban bat distribution by acoustically surveying for bats in NYC and other urban areas; learning archery with her husband and three young sons; racing remote-controlled cars on indoor and outdoor tracks; and backyard gardening.


Advising Dean, Berick Center for Student Advising -

Maria Dimitropoulos holds a Ph.D. in Classical Studies from Columbia University. Before joining the CSA, she taught a variety of classes in the Classics and Art History and Archaeology departments. Trained as a classicist and archaeologist, she has been participating in excavations since 2012 and her research has taken her to Greece, Italy, Egypt, Spain, Portugal, and France. Maria is both a first generation American and college graduate, and she is excited to connect with students with diverse backgrounds and experiences.


Senior Advising Dean, Berick Center for Student Advising, and Lecturer, Engligh and Comparative Literature -

Aileen Forbes holds a B.A. in French literature with the premedical curriculum from Columbia College and a Ph.D. in English literature from Princeton. She has been published in scholarly journals, including the Keats-Shelley Journal, European Romantic Review, the Bryn Mawr Review of Comparative Literature, and Comparative Literature (December 2015). A chapter in A Cultural History of the Emotions in the Age of Romanticism, Revolution and Empire is forthcoming from Bloomsbury Press. She has taught courses on British Romanticism, psychoanalytic theory, and George Eliot at Princeton, Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore. At Columbia, Aileen teaches English literature, as well as Literature Humanities and Contemporary Civilization in the Core Curriculum. Her first job after college was at The Metropolitan Opera, and she enjoys theatre, opera, tennis, swimming, yoga, food, and making French pastries.


Program Coordinator, Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program -

Jackie M. Hayes is from the West Coast, having grown up in Washington State and completed her education in California, earning a BM in Vocal Performance from Point Loma Nazarene University and an MM in Vocal Performance from California State University Northridge. Prior to joining the Center for Student Advising, she has worked in insurance.

She still works as a classical Mezzo-Soprano and enjoys playing her French Horn avocationally. Her favorite non-musical pastimes are reading (favorite authors include Dostoevsky, Steinbeck, and Baldwin), writing, baking, and riding her bike.

Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program


403 Alfred Lerner Hall
2920 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

Call: (212) 854-6378

Fax: (212) 854-2562

Office Hours
9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.