Alan Brinkley, who has served as University Provost for the past five years, will be stepping down from the position at the end of this year. The news was announced in an e-mail this evening to the Columbia University community. In the email, Brinkley writes that “I feel that it is now time for me to return to research and teaching.” He also says he will serve until a successor is named.
Brinkley joined the faculty in 1991, and is probably best known to students for his extremely popular history lecture classes. The current iteration, “U.S. History 1919-45,” is meeting this semester in the famous 309 Havemeyer lecture hall. Brinkley also has contributed to or written numerous books, including two widely-used high school textbooks. His time as Provost has been perhaps most recently marked by the tenure controversies surrounding Nadia Abu El-Haj and Joseph Massad. More importantly, though, he is the most popular Columbia professor on Facebook.
The full e-mail is pasted below the jump.
UPDATE (9:25 PM): President Bollinger has released a short statement of thanks, also posted below the jump.
For the past five years, I have had the great privilege of serving as University Provost. Columbia has always been for me not only a workplace, but a home, and it has been an honor to have played a part in an eventful period in the institution’s life. But I feel that it is now time for me to return to research and teaching, and so I have informed the President that I will be leaving the provostship at the end of this academic year. I will of course continue to serve until a successor is named.
I am deeply grateful to President Bollinger for giving me the opportunity to serve the University and for the tremendous pleasure of working with him. I am grateful as well to our remarkable Trustees, to our great deans, and to my extraordinary colleagues in the central administration who make it possible for this great institution to function and flourish. I have been blessed with a selfless, hardworking, and extremely talented staff in my own office. And I owe a particularly important debt to the many faculty, students, and alumni who have helped me so often over the last several years. Columbia is extremely fortunate to have so many talented and generous people ready to serve the University, and I have been fortunate to have had the chance to get to know and work with many of you.
Whatever I have helped to achieve in my time as provost has been the result of the indispensable support of President Bollinger and the creativity and commitment of my colleagues in the Columbia community. Together, we have made significant progress on some of the most important issues facing the University: among them strengthening of the quality and diversity of our faculty in all our schools, increasing attention to undergraduate education, creating new opportunities for housing and schooling for Columbia families, enhancing the arts in the life of the University, internationalizing our academic programs, strengthening the institutions serving the humanities, improving our important relationships with our partner institutions, Barnard and Teachers College, and launching the first new Morningside science building in almost twenty years.
This has been an exciting and momentous time in the life of Columbia as we have planned for a significant expansion of our space and resources and have imagined an even greater future for this great institution. I am fortunate to have been a participant in this period of exceptional achievement and of progress toward new goals. I will leave with enormous confidence in Columbia’s future, and I look forward to rejoining the faculty.
I have loved working with Alan as Provost. The University has benefited tremendously from his extraordinary intelligence and enormous good will. We should all be thankful. In due time, I will announce an advisory committee to help me identify Alan’s successor as Provost.
Lee C. Bollinger