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2 swastikas, anti-Semitic term spray-painted on the walls of a Jewish professor’s office

Classical style library that's the best known symbol of Manhattan's Ivy League university. Getty Images

The NYPD has commenced a probe into a possible hate crime at Columbia University’s Teachers College.

“I opened the outer door and almost passed out,” Professor Elizabeth Midlarsky, 77, told CNN Thursday, after discovering the vandalism on Wednesday afternoon.

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Toronto police launch hate crime investigation after 4 Jewish teens allegedly targeted – Nov 12, 2018

Midlarksy has worked at the Teachers College at Columbia University for almost 30 years and is a professor of psychology and education.

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Upon finding her office vandalized on Wednesday, she said she reported the incident to security and was given a ride home.

Teachers College President Thomas Bailey released a statement condemning “any expression of hatred.” He said they were working with police to discover the perpetrator.

“We unequivocally condemn any expression of hatred, which has no place in our society. We are outraged and horrified by this act of aggression and use of this vile anti-Semitic symbol against a valued member of our community,” the statement read.

The New York Police Department said it was investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.

The Holocaust scholar and psychology professor was the target of a similar incident in 2007. In the previous incident, a swastika was painted on her door and anti-Semitic flyers were left in her mailbox.

At the time she was protesting Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s speech at Columbia in September.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo condemned the incident on Twitter Thursday.

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“I am disgusted by the abhorrent act of anti-Semitism and hate that occurred at Columbia University,” he said in a statement. “We will hold those behind this act responsible to the full extent of the law, and we will rise above this hate.”

The incident follows a recent hate-driven mass shooting in a Pittsburgh synagogue, in which a gunman opened fire on a service. The shooting left 11 people dead, including one Canadian woman.

Several major American universities have encountered similar incidents in recent weeks. A red swastika was found spray-painted on a mural honouring the victims of the Pittsburgh shooting at North Carolina’s Duke University almost two weeks ago, NBC reported. Just one day later, three swastikas were found spray painted on Cornell University’s North Campus, the Cornell Sun reported.

The FBI reported in October that incidents of hate crimes in the U.S. rose 17 per cent over the course of 2017.

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READ MORE: Hate crime reports in the U.S. spiked 17% last year: FBI

The NYPD have no suspects in the Columbia case.

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