Bwog’s very own Zoe Camp stopped by the presidential mansion Tuesday night to have a chat with PrezBo.

PrezBo’s fireside chat offered freshpeople a rather magical escape from the perils of dorm life. Lo, the mountains of hors d’oeuvres, the perfectly-arranged rows of chairs, the meticulously clean, downright palatial bathrooms – ladies and gentlemen, we’re not in John Jay anymore. And of course, there’s our leader, our hero, the man who makes our collective hearts gush like the grease from a slice of Koronet’s at 3 in the morning – Prezident Lee Bollinger. Tuesday night’s discussion was helpful to upperclassmen and freshpeople alike, providing key updates on Manhattanville, the recent rise in pre-professional programs, and the University as a whole.

PrezBo didn’t wait to be asked about Manhattanville. Rather, he launched right into a status report on the recently green-lit expansion, one that he hopes will cultivate “the same student spirit you get . . . when you go to Low.” Bollinger was particularly excited about the Mind, Brain, Behavior Institute, a new Neuroscience school that may see cross-exchange programs with the school of Economics, an initiative that Bollinger claims will “not only advance our study of the mind on a molecular basis, but also in a broader sense.”

PrezBo talked about a few issues in a “broader sense” last night. When asked about the rise of pre-professional programs in connection with graduate institutions, such as the new Financial Econ major and the recently added Business Management concentration, ‘Bo dismissed any fears that such tracks meant the end of the Core, insisting that such pre-professional programs are necessary to reconcile a traditional, liberal arts education with modern trends in pre-professional training and global thinking. In other words, he said, “Let’s ready Aristotle and think of contemporary problems.” No word on any new pre-professional besides Econ – and even though Bollinger tentatively expressed interest in exploring new relationships with the other graduate schools, he raised a question that no doubt many students can appreciate: “How do we make new things available without being too overwhelming?”

From there, the chat switched focus from larger campus issues to smaller inquiries. There was an relieving explanation of the change in CUarts management, which according to the Prez had nothing to do with marginalizing the project and everything to do with Provost Claude Steele’s involvement, saying “it wasn’t fair to have him manage it.” Another student brought up the longtime ban of ROTC on campus and whether or not a repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell would mean the program’s return. Prezbo’s answer: “if DADT is repealed, ROTC may be invited back.”

Unfortunately, there wasn’t nearly enough time for a proper discussion of some controversial issues, like the decision to invite Ahmadinejad and Zenawi to speak on campus. Bollinger kept it short and concise- “I will always defend the right of this institution to invite anyone to come and speak – but not for political reasons,” he said – but one couldn’t help but feel as though the issue was pushed to the side.

As the chat wrapped up, one student asked PrezBo a funny question: “So, Mr. President, I want to know about you.” And while we didn’t learn the identity of Prezbo’s favorite HamDeli sandwich or whether or not Hawkma is actually his lethal, feathered spy, we did get a brief list of his to-dos concerning the University: making SIPA a premier public affairs school, building (surprised!) a global free press, and making Manhattanville flourish as part of the Columbia community, to name a few.

PrezBo ended the chat with two pieces of information – his plan to head to Paris tomorrow for Sciences Po business and his wish for the audience to polish off the remaining hors d’oeuvres.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.