Lerner 6 Will Be Occupied!

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 -Photo of Rinere via Harvard Crimson

The long, tortured nonexistence of the sixth floor of Lerner is coming to an end…soon. Though the floor has been without residents (aside from a colony of mice, probably) since Lerner Hall opened in 1999, an administrative light has appeared at the end of the tunnel.

In an email to students, Dean Shollenberger wrote that this summer “the sixth floor of Lerner will be renovated to house the Dean of Student Affairs’ suite, the Office of Financial Aid and Educational Financing, and the Office of Judicial Affairs and Community Standards.”

This jumble of bureaucracy is moving up to the six floor to make way for a planned central Student Advising Center on floor four, part of the the University initiative to improve student advising. In that vein, Shollenberger also announced the hiring of Monique Rinere, who recently overhauled advising at Harvard, where her work received high marks. Rinere will lead the charge to improve Columbia’s advising program.

Full email from Shollenberger after the jump.

 Dear Students,

In 2007, responding to needs expressed by students, a new plan for undergraduate advising at Columbia was developed. This plan addressed both resources and facilities, and while it would take several years to fully implement all of the pieces, providing adequate advising resources for undergraduates was a clear priority from the outset.

Several overarching goals factored into our decision to enhance undergraduate advising:

  • To provide each student with more individualized guidance.
  • To build a seamless advising experience that provides greater coordination between academic, preprofessional, career, and other advising resources across the schools.
  • To establish a single, highly visible, easily accessible advising center in a central campus location.

By centralizing undergraduate advising and improving the overall structure, we will be able to provide a comprehensive advising program that addresses the diverse academic and personal needs of our students. The deans of Columbia College and The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science have played a pivotal role in guiding this reform of undergraduate advising. To ensure that we have the resources necessary to achieve these ambitious goals, alumni, parents and friends established the Austin E. Quigley Endowment for Student Success. Through their generosity, we will be able to enhance advising programs and services for undergraduates.

I am happy to announce two significant steps toward the achievement of our goals.

Appointment of Dean of Advising

Our commitment to student advising necessitates strong and visionary leadership. After a national search, I am pleased to announce that Monique Rinere will be the new Dean of Advising and Associate Dean of Student Affairs for Columbia College and The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. As Associate Dean of Harvard College, Dean Rinere oversaw the development of the Advising Programs Office which served 7,000 undergraduates. Under her leadership, Harvard’s Advising Programs Office enhanced services for students by strengthening relationships with students, faculty and departments, developing a peer advising program, and creating innovative, web-based resources. I look forward to working with Dean Rinere and the expertise and leadership she will bring to the Center for Student Advising.

Creation of a Central Advising Center

The Center for Student Advising will be housed on the fourth floor of Lerner. Beginning this summer, the sixth floor of Lerner will be renovated to house the Dean of Student Affairs’ suite, the Office of Financial Aid and Educational Financing, and the Office of Judicial Affairs and Community Standards. Once these offices have moved to the sixth floor early in the fall, we will begin planning for the expansion of the current Center for Student Advising. This expansion will provide a central physical space for student advising and is essential in providing students with streamlined, accessible resources.

CCSC and ESC have been important partners in our discussions about the enhancements to advising and I know they share my excitement as we begin this important phase of our development. Dean Quigley, Dean Navratil and I have had an opportunity to provide a more detailed update about the overall plan with both councils and have shared with them the architects’ proposal for the sixth floor space. We will continue to communicate regularly with the councils as we proceed with our plans for the fourth floor. In addition, we will discuss with the councils the best use of the space that will eventually become available in the residence halls when the advising centers move to the fourth floor of Lerner.

Over the past three years, the commitment to enhancing student advising at Columbia has been shared by students, staff, the deans and alumni. The vision, evaluation, planning and resources that have gone into this have truly been a collaborative effort. Establishing one centralized location for the advising office and naming Dean Rinere as the head of that office are important steps toward honoring that commitment. I am thankful to everyone who has played an integral role in this effort and look forward to welcoming you to the new space.


Kevin G. Shollenberger

Dean of Student Affairs

Columbia College/The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science

Associate Vice President for Undergraduate Student Life

Arts and Sciences

Columbia University


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  1. Great

    So the Lerner student center will actually just be the Lerner complex of offices for wildly incompetent and out of touch administrators. Thanks kevin, enjoy your expanded file cabinets while the students who pay your salary spend hours and hours just trying to get some basic meeting space!

    • remember  

      Columbia doesn't do shit unless it's in its own direct interest. Example: Lerner Party Space. Looked like shit before they had to move faculty house in it. Now there's wood panelling and a warmer decor.

    • I agree  

      Student leaders have been working for years to get Lerner 6 set aside for student use. Whether that be rehearsal space, meeting space, or place to hot box it once in awhile. Although I can understand the space issues we have - the student center should be 100% devoted to student life. It's nice to have advising and financial aid in one location, but I'd rather see clubs not have to host events in Hamilton and Fayerweather.

      As a senior, I know how DUMB members of the advising staff can be (however I've heard good things about some) and just can't comprehend why the advising system changes every two years. You'd think they'd figure out a way to fix it the first time by listening to students' input.

      Someone needs to contact the Lerner family like Michele Diamond did last year. It's ridiculous that they spent all that money to fund a student center when it has been overrun with non-student activity.

      Dean Gay-Gay-Gay has surely become the most unpopular administrator on campus and he needs a reality check. I use the nickname not to mock - since I myself am gay - but to pry at his overly flamboyant demeanor and state that just because he wants something "bigger" (an office...), students should not have to suffer.

  2. harvard advising  

    good to hear there's been progress, but we know their advising is *so* good, right?


  3. actually  

    i should be less snarky. here's to a better advising system, especially for first years, hopefully!

  4. Why  

    does Alma Mater beat her children?

  5. Also,  

    Dear Dean Shollenberger,

    I hope you enjoy your thirty pieces of silver.


    Student Groups

  6. actually  

    I think the councils share some blame for this. They're the ones who pushed for advising to be in Lerner 6. This is basically the same thing - it's in Lerner 4 and Lerner 4 is moving to 6.

    They said that "oh this clears up space for student groups in Res halls" but there is no plan underway to open up space in residence halls to groups, and booking space there is restricted anyway. So thanks again CCSC and ESC for fucking shit up for students and groups. This was a great opportunity for a student lounge and group space - space that is desperately needed - but you ruined it.

  7. Alum

    "Lerner 6 Will Be Occupied!"

    Sorta makes me nostalgic for '68, even though I wasn't around that long ago.

    Free the Lerner 6!

  8. In other  

    words, the 6th floor of Lerner will be renovated to house Hell.

  9. WTF  


  10. Not Amused


  11. disappointed  

    But seriously, this depresses me. I don't think Shollenberger understands the serious problem student groups have with booking space on campus. They can open up as many academic buildings as they want, but nothing beats Lerner (it's just so darn convenient).
    There is a serious disconnect between the student body and the various administrative offices. Why are course evaluations due the day before finals begin? Why do UEM and OUC charge student groups outlandish prices for certain services? Who the hell came up with the brilliant idea to stagger the openings of Art Hum and Music Hum? Why the hell isn't there wireless in all the dorms? And now, 6th floor Lerner, the crown jewel of potential opportunities for expansion of student club space, is going to be turned into offices. I understand that resources are always limited, but the students' interests are too often ignored at this university. Maybe the councils and the governing boards need to do a better job representing the interests of the students to the administration; maybe they need to be more aggressive and confrontational.
    Something needs to be done.

    • Agreed  

      Administrators are out of touch with student needs. Giving advising new offices will NOT improve advising. Physically centralizing advising will NOT fix the broken system.

  12. butler fire alarm  

    ruined my day... torrential downpour, wet computer, wet notes, everything wet.

  13. HELP  


  14. Anonymous  

    Columbia's annual advising changes are like rearranging the flamethrowers on the Hindenburg - it may technically be slightly better but you're ignoring the much larger disaster.

  15. actually  

    putting all of this stuff on lerner 6, which is not good for event space because of the architecture, and moving the academic advising deans to lerner 4 opens up all of those random offices in the dorms.


    • well

      one of the things that makes lerner space so valuable is free facilities furniture services. god have mercy on you student group budget when you try to hold events in dorms and require furniture. They don't tell you in advance how much it will cost, and they charge your account whenever they damn well feel like it, so you're completely handcuffed in terms of budgeting.

      For anyone who's played Warcarft 3, the Columbia administration is like undead blight. It just keeps spreading.

    • But Really  

      Doesn't it make sense though to consolidate student group spaces into a STUDENT CENTER?

      • ColumbiaAdmin  

        We have a student center?

        • ColumbiaAdmin2

          We have students?

          Quoting an earlier post:
          4 years ago Student Affairs commissioned a study by McKinsey & Co. to look into whether there was a viable business model for CC/SEAS that eliminated the need to enroll any students. You see, their jobs would be much easier if they could just figure out a way to take students out of the equation.

          You can imagine their shock and dismay when they were informed that the whole point of a College is to enroll students. I've heard that the administrators thought the consultant was joking when she said this.

          True story."

  16. meh

    Lerner Hall is a sad sad story. But the administration swallowing up room after room isn't anything new.

    First the chaplain decided to call dibs on space in Lerner. Her old office in Earl Hall is being used to house the head of CUIT.

    Then students complained about the west wing of the 5th floor, which was originally dedicated entirely to office space for student groups, noting that the space they'd gotten in the new building was small and largely useless. Granted, their expectations had been a little unreasonable. So the administration decided to demolish the offices, convert half the space into an open floor work area, and the other half into offices for SDA, which was originally located on the 4th floor. Financial Aid moved into Lerner, into the space that housed SDA. Students who actually used the space were not pleased.

    And now this. I'll get to advising itself in a second, but the space truly sucks. It's like visiting a medical clinic. You show up. Sign in. Wait to be escorted to a cube office. Get diagnosed. Leave.

    As for advising itself, its porrly designed. What role do advisers play other than a Q&A booth? They're entirely passive. They don't offer much more information than what you'll find in FACETS or the bulletin. The only really helpful dean I ever met with now works as a senior director in Barnard's admissions department. Considering the night-and-day character of barnard and columbia's administration, I think that says something about the culture of this place.

    For those of you who think this is what advising is supposed to be - a largely pointless safety net, I assure you that you're greatly decieved. It's not like this at other schools. And Harvard may not be the best school to model after - Rinere probably had more money, more space, and she definitely has a better infrastructure to work with. Harvard's house system makes a lot of programs viable by establishing a small peer cohort students share for a number of years. Having a faculty-in-residence for three years is different from having one live in the building next door for one year.

    I sincerely hope that Deans Moody-Adama, Rinere, Peña-Mora, and whoever becomes the permanent Dean of Student Affairs, can break out of the mold of stale thinking and accepting mediocre compromises and really think outside the box about overhauling the way the undergraduate administrations go about their business.

  17. two cents

    They can move the advising center however many times they want and restructure the organizational framework as many times as they please. It will still be bad.

  18. The Advising Center  

    is like a factory. I was in there once, and I could almost swear I saw child laborers. (They may have been frosh work-study, though.)

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