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Dirks Explains Moodygate to Faculty, Omitting Explanation

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

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  • Eapen Chacko says:

    @Eapen Chacko I would like to write to someone and request a copy of the report. Any ideas on the best person? I agree that there’s no reason it shouldn’t be in the public domain for anyone interested in preserving the health and vitality of the greatest institution in the University. Have a look at the WSJ book review today, “The Fall of the Faculty,” by Ben Ginsberg of Johns Hopkins. You’ll see some interesting stats on administrative structure and expense a propos of the post from “Facts.”

  • Where's the McKinsey? says:

    @Where's the McKinsey? The report should be made public.

  • W Chan says:

    @W Chan While Moody Adams’ firing still reeks of fish, I’m actually glad that Dirks wrote this email. Even if he’s not being forthcoming about what exactly happened with MiMoo, he HAS made a few conciliatory (albeit small) verbal commitments to the College in this email, and it will tie his hands politically as VP FAS moving forward, especially since he knows we’re all paying attention to the bigger picture now. This is a good thing. Bwog, and whoever else reading this – we need to all keep the students informed and keep up the pressure. The latent threat of a massive student protest should be a credible one and enough to keep the administrators on their toes. The more undergrads who are informed about this, the better.

  • Facts says:

    @Facts Fact: Columbia is a bureaucratic hell hole where different constituencies have carved out so many fiefdoms that are fiercely protected that a medieval liege lord would feel right at home. This is pretty indisputable.

    Fact: Reduced bureaucratic kludge and the byzantine approach of so many offices is a good thing, generally speaking.

    Fact: We’re all upset because one of the few little estates that feigns to care for us is being encroached on by a bigger estate. There would probably be cheering in the streets of the iron grip of Facilities was being broken, rather than the independence of the College.

    Fact: Support the core, give us a student affairs division that actually works with us to improve our experience and not to hamper us at every turn, and faculty who genuinely care about the students (not just their subject) and are willing to reach out to us, and none of this political wrangling is a problem. Everything else is ancillary.

  • um says:

    @um Accenture is in the pot too. doing some fancy finance reorg

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous I heard that the McKinsey report said that the core curriculum was financially unsustainable or something along those lines.

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous Bwog! Find the McKinsey report!!!!

  • concerned says:

    @concerned Please tell us how much you wasted on Mckinsey. It may pay for financial aid of many students. Mckinsey is just a scapegoat in implementing the idea of central administration

    1. Trustees says:

      @Trustees The board of trustees insisted on McKinsey. The faculty were against it from the beginning. Including the EVP.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous MCKINSEY.. urgh

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous seriously shuda gone with BCG or Bain

  • only slightly applicable quotes says:

    @only slightly applicable quotes Pretty much all the honest truth telling in the world is done by children.
    -Oliver Wendell

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Love the headline!

  • Obi-Wand says:

    @Obi-Wand These aren’t the droids you’re looking for….

  • ecn says:

    @ecn I’m wondering how Bwog got this email or at least for whom it was initially intended. [Who are these “Colleagues?”] I think this is important, because his email is a series of giant sugar coated statements all asserting : “You have nothing to worry about; we’re fine, we’re fine!” I mean, simply saying that everything is ok doesn’t make it so – Bwog is right to point out that his comments seem completely at odds with MiMoo’s email and abrupt resignation, so I’m not so ready to believe him. Is there any way to get someone involved at a high level to actually tell us what the heart of the issue is?

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous “I’m wondering how Bwog got this email or at least for whom it was initially intended”

      Um… the entire Columbia faculty? And it’s not that hard to have a chummy relationship with a professor.

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous i call bull

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous lol looks like moody-adams threw a hissy fit for nothing. wat a wuss, glad we’re rid of her

    1. Anon says:

      @Anon prezbo uses bwog?

  • That Explains It says:

    @That Explains It They hired idiots from McKinsey to help. Those idiots couldn’t consult themselves out of a paper bag.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous McKinsey – for when you need an “impartial” third-party to push through changes that would normally cause an uproar amongst the rabble.

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous the mission of management consulting

      2. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous Did Dirks really believe that name-dropping McKinsey would make this seem more legitimate?

    2. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous you’re just jealous u didn’t get an interview.

    3. old timey says:

      @old timey I vaguely recall a (possibly apocryphal) story about how Student Services (aka the bureaucrats in Kent Hall) retained McKinsey to provide suggestions on how to improve their department. The final report told them to basically start the entire department over from scratch. Student Services was just expecting a few tweaks. So they ignored the report and tossed it in the trash.

      1. It's not apochryphal says:

        @It's not apochryphal And it was Accenture, not McKinsey.

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