Bwog just recieved the following e-mail, sent by Executive Vice President for Arts and Sciences and Dean of the Faculty Nick Dirks. The e-mail is essentially a complete refutation of every concern that Moody-Adams expressed in her e-mail. Most importantly, Dirks says that there are no particular decisions that have been made, which seems completely counter-intuitive to a dramatic and unexpected resignation over policy. It doesn’t get any more blatant than this (emphasis ours):

Moody-Adams: “The planned changes will have the effect of diminishing and in some important instances eliminating the authority of the Dean of the College over crucial policy, fund-raising and budgetary matters.”

Dirks: “We have no intention of diminishing the position of the Dean of the College.”

August 22, 2011

Dear Colleagues:

As you know from the communication from President Bollinger I sent you yesterday morning, Michele Moody-Adams unexpectedly submitted her resignation from her position as Dean of Columbia College and Vice President for Undergraduate Education last Friday.  I regret that she will not continue to work with us in our ongoing efforts to position the College even more centrally in the Arts and Sciences.  But in light of some of the recent statements about the Arts and Sciences, it is important to be clear about the facts.

As you also know from earlier communications from my office, we have been working over the past years to better align the College in the administrative functioning of the Arts and Sciences, an effort that has been especially important as we have worked to facilitate support for a steady expansion of undergraduate student services and advising as well as for the substantial enhancement of our financial aid during challenging economic times.  During these same years we have also expanded the role of faculty governance in the Arts and Sciences through the creation of the new Planning and Policy Committee (PPC), which among many other things has been working to promote greater faculty participation in undergraduate affairs.

We began our effort to strengthen the position of the College in the Arts and Sciences in collaboration with then Dean Austin Quigley some years ago, in the larger context of Lee Bollinger’s strong commitment to undergraduate education. This effort continued during the past year as we undertook a review (with the help of the McKinsey Consulting Group) of the administrative, organizational, and financial structure of the Arts and Sciences, working closely with all the Arts and Sciences deans, senior staff in the College and elsewhere in Arts and Sciences, and with the Planning and Policy Committee (PPC) of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.  At Lee’s request, the PPC continued to meet with Lee and me and other members of the senior administration throughout the summer to provide feedback on the recommendations of the review, as well as to deliberate over other issues that had emerged as critical for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences late last spring.  These issues included proposals for revisions to our benefits packages and enhancing financial support for the Arts and Sciences through new fundraising ideas.

We have made no decisions about any of the specific recommendations of the review.  Faculty will be meeting with Lee, other senior administrators, and a group of trustees during the fall to continue our conversations. We have no intention of diminishing the position of the Dean of the College. We are committed to strengthening the role of the faculty in undergraduate affairs, a goal that is critical for the College as we seek to provide better support for and participation in the teaching of the Core Curriculum as well as the undergraduate curriculum more generally.  The College has never been stronger or better funded, and we take great pride in its enormous accomplishments over the past years.  I am currently working closely with the senior staff of the College to ensure a smooth transition over the next days and weeks.  I look forward to working with all of you in the months ahead as we continue to work to ensure an ever brighter future for Columbia College and its faculty in the Arts and Sciences.


Nicholas B. Dirks
Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology and History
Executive Vice President for Arts and Sciences
Dean of the Faculty