MiMoo Déjà Vu

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The halcyon days of MiMoo

While trying to make sense of Dean Moody-Adams’ resignation, many have pointed out a striking similarity in the situation to Dean Austin Quigley’s forced resignation in 1997, as chronicled in the New York Times. Although Quigley was reinstated as Dean a mere weekend after his resignation, the story highlights some of the important issues at stake in the battle between the Dean of the College and the central administration.

In ’97, Quigley got into a very serious dispute with then-president George E. Rupp, about the extent to which the College, (with its powerful alumni and their even more powerful donating potential), should be subordinate to the Arts & Sciences administration. Quigley was strongly opposed to surrendering some of his autonomy as leader of the College to David Cohen, the VP of Arts & Sciences. In Bwog’s ongoing research into the origins of Moodygate, we’ve found that while faculty and alumni are still the dark about what exactly prompted Moody-Adams’ dramatic decision, it is emblematic of a long history of the College’s struggle for autonomy, of which the Dean of the College has traditionally been the chief defender. It is also clear that this process of centralization is widely known to be on top of President Bollinger’s personal agenda, although it was a process that began in the ’80s, long before his tenure.

Quigley (who eventually stepped down in 2008) was restored by what has been described an “alumni revolt.” However, he was an extremely visible presence on campus, and immensely popular with students in a way that Moody-Adams has never been. Now that she has been effectively forced to leave by PrezBo, it is extremely unlikely that she will be reinstated.

During her two years as Dean, MiMoo had a reputation for complying with her administrative superiors, and was seen as unwilling to take on the centralizing forces. This makes her resignation all the more dramatic, given her past deference. While Moody-Adams was not seen as an outspoken critic of the President in the way that Quigley was, there’s clearly a major conflict at hand, one that is closely related to the allocation of resources to the College and the way in which they use them.

There is some speculation from our sources that the issues in contention involved the size of the College’s class (which has grown larger in the last few years, prompting some housing debacles) and most importantly its commitment to financial aid. These are serious allegations and there is widespread concern among both the active alumni networks and faculty that the College is being forced to fall into line with the central administration’s wishes in ways that, as per Moody-Adams’ e-mail: “will ultimately compromise the College’s academic quality and financial health.”

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    cut all greek and athletic funding

  2. Anonymous

    What's a chem major's worst nightmare?

    Moody atoms!

  3. A little Confused

    Could you please explain the bit about "commitment to financial aid" more? In which direction are we heading? I also noticed that the average need based grant at CU is quite large ($38,544), and about 54% of students receive aid (91% of aid is grans). Then again, our tuition....

    • Claire  (Bwog Staff)

      We're confused too! Part of the problem is that everything we're hearing now is still really vague. There are indications that the administration was unhappy with the resources drained by having a large number of students on financial aid, but this is still very much speculation. What is much more clear cut is that faculty are angry that the precise issues at stake are not being made clear to them, which obviously is frustrating for us as well.

      • ...

        if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it is probably a duck.

        i suspect that there are no serious precise issues at stake beyond largely meaningless corporate style management changes. based on the fact that ol' moody would throw the whole university under the bus in the face of its greatest financial supporters at much to the detriment of its constituents, it seems rather apparent to me that there are personal and egotistical struggles involved and that the argument has transcended beyond one of "what's best for the people we serve" to pointless powerplays and big-organization ridiculousness.

        combine that with the vagaries associated with real concrete issues in play and the evidence grows stronger...

        i'm going 2 for 2 on this: there are no issues involved that actually matter. maybe a meaningless corporate re-org, but none of the issues in play would hit the pavement in any meaningful way.

    • Which do you think?

      Does Prezbo want to give more money to middle-class undergrads and less money to his global initiative, or less money to middle-clas undergrads and more money to build Columbia into a "global university?" Just look at his rhetoric. He has an incredible vision for the university as a center of global culture and analysis. That's great. The problem is that the university he's trying to turn into this global behemoth happens to have a very different legacy. There's tension.

      • hmm

        I don't mean to lavish inflated praise upon the institution, but isn't that precisely what the university has always been-- a leader in global thought? I believe it was the leading university in the world 50 years ago-- what other qualification is there? And I think it played an even more prominent role in providing educational access. Could it be that the paradigm is wrong-- that it isn't a global architecture that establishes a global presence? I'm not suggesting that there was or was or wasn't any justification for the departing dean's letter-- without knowledge, I cannot speculate. But offhand, the terms of this possibly separate debate seem confused.

    • History Lesson

      Ok Kids, strap on your seatbelts, we're going to take a ride in the wayback machine to 2005.

      You remember 2005-2006? President George W. Bush? SexyBack was a #1 song? 30 Rock debuted? You were probably still in middle school? Booming economy? University endowments growing so fast and big that Congress considered taxing them? The Financial Aid arms race? Yeah you probably missed that last one, right?

      March 2005: Yale announces that families earning under $45k will not be required to pay towards their childrens' educations, and those making up to $60k would see steeply reduced contribution requirements.

      March 2006: Stanford announces a program that matches Yale's.

      March 2006: Penn announces that it will replace student loans with grants for students whose parents earn under $50,000. (Historic note: long before 2005-2008 arms race, Princeton had completely eliminated student loans and replaced them with grants.)

      April 2006: Harvard, because it's Harvard, announces that parents who earn less than 60k a year are off the hook for their childrens' education, one-upping Yale and Stanford.

      Spring 2006: Financial Aid "Reform" is a major issue among student government types at columbia. CCSC candidates campaign on it even though they have no control over it. There is a petition campaign for "FAiR".

      September 2006: Columbia gets off the fence and announces that it, like Penn, will eliminate loans for students from families earning under $50k.

      April 2007: John Kluge pledges $400 million for financial aid, the largest gift in school history. Columbia doesn't get the money until later, obviously. But they use the pledge to launch a matching contribution campaign to entice other alumni to donate for fin aid as well.

      December 2007: Because it's a pimp, Harvard triples down, declares that in addition to its previous program, families earning up to $120k need only pay a percentage of their income on a scale sliding up to 10%, and capping contributions at 10% of income for families earning all the way up to $180k, eliminates student loans, and stops counting home equity in calculating family's ability to pay.

      December 2007: Penn nudges up the cap on its no-loans-for-students program from families earning $50k up to $100k.

      January 2008: Upset by being beaten to the punch this time around, Yale matches Harvard, raises the top end of its 10% cap to $200,000, eliminates student loans, and also adjusts its formula.

      February 2008: Brown gets on board. Adopts the pay nothing if you earn under $60k plan, and eliminates student loans for students from families earning under $100k. Stanford also significantly beefs up its program.

      March 2008: Columbia mans up, eliminating student loans for all, eliminating contributions from families earning under $60k, and reducing the expected contribution from families earning up to $100k.

      One week later, Bear Stearns collapses. Six months later Lehman collapses and the Great Recession begins in earnest.

      This is an abbreviated history, of course. I didn't list moves by all schools, just the ones that moved the chains, I think.

      Here's the real takeaway though: Notice how Penn's program and Columbia's original program were *significantly* more conservative than Harvard or Yale's? It's because Columbia doesn't have that kind of money. Neither does Penn. Sure we have billions of dollars, but we also have lots of students. On a per student basis, Yale and Harvard had endowments of over $1.7 million and $1.4 million per student in 2006. Penn had somewhere in the neighborhood of $300k. Columbia had $240,000, in the same ballpark as College of the Holy Cross. Small schools with smaller endowments, like Amherst, Wellesley, even Dartmouth, are substantially wealthier than Columbia on a per student basis.

      In short, Columbia probably made a bold (unwise?) gamble on its endowment growth and fundraising ability in the midst of an arms race atmosphere and supposedly booming economy, and has probably been hurting ever since. Columbia's not the only one hurting - Yale had to "alter" its program as well this year.

  4. Van Owen

    Come on, Pookie, let's burn this motherfucker down!

  5. Anonymous

    Fuck the man, man!

  6. Anonymous  

    Attica! Attica!

  7. unrelated

    but Schollenberger was noshing on Chinese food about 20 minutes before he sent the e-mail.


  8. Venturing a guess

    20 bucks says this has everything to do with Robert Kasdin.

  9. flyover country

    This trend will continue to make Columbia an institution run by the global elite, for the global elite. It's globalization writ small. I'm all for the being the center of a global dialog, and having our pretty little crown in the background of 100,000 press conferences and panel discussions, but its being done by reducing the opportunities of many deserving young people who didn't have the fortune of having an interesting passport and wealthy parents. You can't complain about inequality in this country and not see the connection here.

    -CC '12 from middle america.

    • another

      if indeed financial aid is in question I feel much less loved. I thought the point was that we teach richies about middle america while we get to learn about passp0rts.

      i mean, why should the "global dialogue" exclude the lower/middle class perspective?

  10. just a thought

    Is it possible that power was being taken from the college because the leadership of the college has consistently produced the least positive, most obnoxious student pool of the myriad schools on campus? If everyone enrolled is a malcontent (see Bwog, Spectator, etc.), then maybe it's the school's fault (both for selection criteria and overall leadership)?

    I also can't see how the big drug bust helped MMA.

    -College Alum

  11. GS '11  

    "[...] will ultimately compromise the College’s academic quality and financial health."

    And to think that, in terms of the first part, this used to be our job.

    In terms of real student advocacy, not to mention balls, her letter is the kind of thing I've been hoping to see from Lewisohn for two years now. We're becoming an elite global university? Great. But, is there perhaps a way to do that without leaving ourselves behind?

  12. Anonymous

    Wow, nicely summarized.

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