Sep

2

BREAKING: Professor James Valentini is the New Interim Dean of CC

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Update, 8:15: Dean James Valentini’s wife is Teodolinda Barolini, chair of the Planning and Policy Committee, the new arm of Arts and Sciences created to help navigate “budgetary challenges.” Remember in Dirks’ December 2010 letter introducing PPC, he blamed burdensome financial aid costs incurred by the College. We supposed that this could be related to the financial issues MiMoo alluded to in her resignation letter when she alleged that recent administrative changes could compromise the College’s “financial health.” According to the March 2010 report by the FAS advisory committee, ARC (Academic Review Committee), the PPC could ideally improve communication and cooperation between constituent schools within FAS. Still, PPC’s consolidation of budget powers arguably diminishes the financial autonomy of the College. We don’t think there’s some grand conspiracy here, but it’s curious that this potential conflict of interest (confirmed by the couple’s NYTimes wedding announcement) wasn’t mentioned in any of PrezBo’s emails. Bwog holds out hope for transparency!

Update: We were tipped the following email (also reproduced in the comments), which Bollinger sent to just alumni of the College. He emphasizes the University’s steadfast commitment to the College. Original email sent to the whole CC community still below.

Dear Alumni of Columbia College,

I am enclosing below the letter I sent today to the College campus community announcing the appointment of Professor James Valentini as Interim Dean of Columbia College. Professor Valentini’s qualifications for this role are enumerated in the letter, and I hope you agree that he brings demonstrated leadership in undergraduate education to this important position.

Given the suddenness of Dean Moody-Adams’ resignation, I want to take this opportunity to comment directly. When I came back to Columbia in 2002, having last been here during my years at the Law School in the late 60’s, I was very surprised and frankly confounded by the stories I heard about deep-seated suspicion and mistrust among the College community. Sometimes these stories had cast the president as the antagonist, and in others it was “the University” or “the Arts and Sciences.” It was unthinkable to me that the college that founded Columbia would not be seen as the very center of the University.

Whatever has been true at certain moments in the past, I can say to you, without any qualification, that our commitment to the College has never been stronger, and that the College has never had a stronger role in the University. We are one of the most sought after colleges in the world, we attract a cohort of the most talented young women and men, and we are proud to have the most diverse student body in the Ivy League. They come because of the Core, because of the remarkable faculty, because of New York City, and they come because we are steadfast in our commitment to make Columbia affordable for them. Through a partnership of alumni support led by John Kluge, University contribution, and tuition revenues, we are able to admit students to the College without regard to their families’ ability to pay, and then we provide them the financial aid they need to attend. All this adds up to the best student body in the world, and I feel this first hand every Fall when I teach my large undergraduate course on freedom of speech and press.

More than ever the College experience draws on the strengths of the entire University. In addition to the unique experience of the Core Curriculum, College students have access to an ever broader set of educational opportunities, including the departmental majors and new undergraduate programs in the arts, in business, and in public health. I am particularly committed to finding more opportunities for undergraduates to study and work internationally, including at our seven global centers around the world. Our athletics programs are stronger and more successful than ever, and a new advising center funded by the Quigley Endowment is transforming the way we help students shape their futures.
Columbia is a complex organization, with an expansive mission, and a tradition of vigorous debate about its future. We wouldn’t want it any other way. Naturally, there are differences of opinion among the administration, faculty, and alumni leaders about structures and strategies that will serve the College best. We are fortunate to be able to work on these issues with not only a gifted faculty but a board of University Trustees informed by the strong representation of College alumni leaders, including the Chair and three of four Vice Chairs, and a cohort of able and committed College alumni helping to move Columbia forward.

The College’s strength is Columbia’s strength. I look forward to working with Jim Valentini, the faculty, students, and our alumni leaders in continuing to build for its future.

Sincerely,
Lee C. Bollinger

This just in—PrezBo announces that former Chemistry department chair Professor James Valentini will replace Professor Michele Moody-Adams as interim Dean of Columbia College and Vice President for Undergraduate Education. Here’s the full email:

To the Columbia College Community:

I am pleased to announce that Professor James Valentini will assume the responsibilities of Dean of the College and Vice President for Undergraduate Education on an interim basis.

A member of Columbia’s faculty since 1991, Professor Valentini led Columbia’s Chemistry Department as chair from 2005 until 2008 and currently is director of the department’s undergraduate studies program. Jim is a decorated scholar, having been selected in 2009 by his peers as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and earlier as a Fellow of the American Physical Society for his research involving chemical reaction dynamics. His two decades at Columbia have been marked by a love of teaching undergraduates and dedication to supporting their intellectual journey at the College. Jim was for many years an active member of the University Senate, served on the Presidential Advisory Committee on Diversity Initiatives, has been Chair of the Arts and Sciences Academic Review Committee, Chair of the College Committee on Science Instruction, a member of the Committee on the Core and the College Committee on Instruction, faculty representative to the Alumni Association Board, and has worked with many other groups on curriculum matters, undergraduate affairs, faculty governance, and tenure.

I want to thank Michele Moody-Adams for her service as the Dean of the College and Vice President for Undergraduate Education and for her devotion to the College and its students. Though she made her resignation effective on June 30, 2012, I concluded it was in the best interests of the College that it become effective immediately so that an interim dean could be appointed and in place by the beginning of the academic year. Michele has graciously agreed to help with the transition and to be available to consult with the interim dean for the remainder of the academic year. She will, of course, continue to serve as Joseph Straus Professor of Political Philosophy and Legal Theory in the Philosophy Department.

I will keep you informed about the progress of our search for a permanent Dean of the College and Vice President for Undergraduate Education. For the present, please join me in thanking Michele Moody-Adams for her service and Jim Valentini for his willingness to serve on an interim basis.

Sincerely,

Lee C. Bollinger

 

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33 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Prof Valentini is the best man. So proud.

  2. CHEMWHIZKHALIFA  

    OMFG I LOVE CHEMISTRY AND VALENTINI! SCREW MOODY-ADAMS! I LOVE VALENTINI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Email sent to Alums

    Dear Alumni of Columbia College,


    I am enclosing below the letter I sent today to the College campus community announcing the appointment of Professor James Valentini as Interim Dean of Columbia College. Professor Valentini’s qualifications for this role are enumerated in the letter, and I hope you agree that he brings demonstrated leadership in undergraduate education to this important position.

    Given the suddenness of Dean Moody-Adams’ resignation, I want to take this opportunity to comment directly. When I came back to Columbia in 2002, having last been here during my years at the Law School in the late 60’s, I was very surprised and frankly confounded by the stories I heard about deep-seated suspicion and mistrust among the College community. Sometimes these stories had cast the president as the antagonist, and in others it was “the University” or “the Arts and Sciences.” It was unthinkable to me that the college that founded Columbia would not be seen as the very center of the University.

    Whatever has been true at certain moments in the past, I can say to you, without any qualification, that our commitment to the College has never been stronger, and that the College has never had a stronger role in the University. We are one of the most sought after colleges in the world, we attract a cohort of the most talented young women and men, and we are proud to have the most diverse student body in the Ivy League. They come because of the Core, because of the remarkable faculty, because of New York City, and they come because we are steadfast in our commitment to make Columbia affordable for them. Through a partnership of alumni support led by John Kluge, University contribution, and tuition revenues, we are able to admit students to the College without regard to their families’ ability to pay, and then we provide them the financial aid they need to attend. All this adds up to the best student body in the world, and I feel this first hand every Fall when I teach my large undergraduate course on freedom of speech and press.

    More than ever the College experience draws on the strengths of the entire University. In addition to the unique experience of the Core Curriculum, College students have access to an ever broader set of educational opportunities, including the departmental majors and new undergraduate programs in the arts, in business, and in public health. I am particularly committed to finding more opportunities for undergraduates to study and work internationally, including at our seven global centers around the world. Our athletics programs are stronger and more successful than ever, and a new advising center funded by the Quigley Endowment is transforming the way we help students shape their futures.

    Columbia is a complex organization, with an expansive mission, and a tradition of vigorous debate about its future. We wouldn’t want it any other way. Naturally, there are differences of opinion among the administration, faculty, and alumni leaders about structures and strategies that will serve the College best. We are fortunate to be able to work on these issues with not only a gifted faculty but a board of University Trustees informed by the strong representation of College alumni leaders, including the Chair and three of four Vice Chairs, and a cohort of able and committed College alumni helping to move Columbia forward.

    The College’s strength is Columbia’s strength. I look forward to working with Jim Valentini, the faculty, students, and our alumni leaders in continuing to build for its future.

    Sincerely,

    Lee C. Bollinger

  4. anonymous

    best choice Columbia has made in a long time - Professor Valentini truly cares about undegraduates. perhaps he'll be chosen to continue as the full fledged dean at the end of the year.

  5. anonymous

    Why did Bollinger not capitalize the "c" in "college" in the last sentence of the second paragraph?

  6. Anonymous

    awesome! I remember his gen chem lectures; he sure loved his blu-rays and ps3s

  7. Anonymous  

    In the last sentence \college\ is not an abbreviation for \Columbia College,\ but rather college in the general sense.

  8. Anonymous

    "In the last sentence college is not an abbreviation for Columbia College, but rather college in the general sense."

    Whether it's an abbreviation is not the point. Here Bollinger clearly uses the definitive article "the" when writing about "the college that founded Columbia." Was "the college that founded Columbia" not the College itself? Why then not unequivocally write "the College"?

    • Anonymous  

      I believe Bollinger wanted to emphasize "that founded Columbia" rather than the name of the particular institution. He could have written "the College, which founded Columbia,", but he did not, presumably for the aforementioned reason. He also could have written "that the College would not be seen", but that would again lack emphasis on the founding and would also lack a reason for him to single out the College.

    • because

      because when founded, Columbia was "Columbia College"

      effectively, the implied structure you're asking for is "the [Columbia] College that founded Columbia [College]". Even if you replace the last college with university, it's wrong. You're nitpicking.

  9. Anonymous

    Excuse me: there is NO ONE on the Columbia faculty to be interim or permanent dean who is known to be a team player in Arts and Sciences and a respected teacher in the Core, who is NOT married to one of the players in this conflict? Give me a break!!!!!!!!

  10. Anonymous

    If BWOG REALLY holds out transparency in this--that the Chair of the Committee that ran MMA out--has no stake in the fact the the husband is now the Interim Dean (remember, the last Interim Dean of the Graduate School, Carlos Alonso, withstood the challenges of a nation search to be named permanent dean in June 2011), Bwog needs to get a new profession.

  11. Anonymous

    The problem is that the conflict of interest is not revealed by the parties appointing the interim dean; they never intended for anyone to know. So--one needs to ask about integrity, and intentionality--not whether the cat is out of the bag...

  12. Anonymous

    Is anyone getting the problem here, or is everyone more interested in the best restaurants in town, etc? This reeks worse than three day old fish! If you care about the College--I'm a recent and loyal and politically savvy alum!!--notice that this is a politically suspect appointment and that PREZBO owes us better than this!!!

  13. Dr. Barolini said with a laugh,

    ''And to think, most people say nothing good can happen when serving on university committees!''

  14. QUIET ALL OF YOU!

    Drs. Valentini and Barolini would never take part in any "conspiracy." Having had the privilege to take courses with both professors, I have observed first-hand that they conduct themselves with the utmost professionalism. Enough with this malicious gossip! Considering Dr. Valentini's years of service and dedication to the College and its students, I cannot envision anyone better fit for the role of Dean.

    - Agitated Columbia College Student

  15. curious

    Dear QUIET ALL OF YOU, above,
    No ones engaging in "malicious gossip." They're simply pointing out that the affiliation between Valentini and Barolini -- a piece of pre-existing public knowledge that should be disseminated -- is a conflict of interest, whether either person acts upon it in an unprofessional manner. The existence of a conflict of interest doesn't mean those involved necessarily corruptly act on it. And in terms of reporting, it's a piece of context that can help illuminate plausible reasons for Bollinger's choice.

  16. Anonymous  

    Curious, above, is correct. For the record, James Valentini is a good guy. However: The conflict of interest is already there, with a past, present, and future. Conflicts of interest matter. Perceptions matter. Given the sensitive nature of the reasons surrounding MMA's resignation, this represents a politically and ethically tone-deaf appointment. Obviously, Bollinger (and Dirks) want someone who will not fight with them publicly. Dirks' letter last week said there would be discussion about the changes that so concerned MMA that she resigned. MMA called on the alumni to be vigilant. Most faculty apart from PPC do not know the ins and outs of the planned changes. James Valentini undoubtedly did, and probably before MMA herself. He was undoubtedly aware of the discussions about the changes, and why certain changes were decided upon. So, it is naive to think that he comes to all of this with an open mind and an ability to debate and perhaps disagree with some of the changes. During this year, he would need to reassure alumni and students (and faculty) that he has been persuaded by future discussions to agree with the changes, but the fact is, he has been aware of them for months. There is a necessary perception of the Dean's autonomy and independent thinking, but this perception disappears with the knowledge of the closeness of Valentini to the process of PPC this year. This is as close as you could get to appointing a member of PPC without actually doing that; it is not his fault that his marriage to the Chair of PPC contaminates this appointment, his ability to at least appear impartial about the changes that so concerned MMA, and to seem to be learning about the plans at the same time as the rest of us do. Bollinger should have thought this through better.

  17. Anonymous

    Curious and "Anonymous 3 Sept 2011 at 1:24 pm" are correct re: conflict of interest.

    This is a really poor decision by Bollinger, who by this appointment now appears to be trying to steamroll through whatever changes MMA objected to in the first place.

    Moreover, how could he think that the conflict of interest would not become public?

    We need a Dean who is going to fight for the College and publicly and objectively discuss with the College alumni and students, as well as other stakeholders, whatever the planned changes are.

    As it stands now, regardless of Valentini's likeability, this conflict makes it difficult for us to know whether we are getting independent and objective representation. And, at a minimum, we deserve it after this debacle.

  18. Anonymous

    Bollinger writes:

    "When I came back to Columbia in 2002, having last been here during my years at the Law School in the late 60’s, I was very surprised and frankly confounded by the stories I heard about deep-seated suspicion and mistrust among the College community."

    And then he proceeds to omit the fact that the new interim Dean is married to the Chair of the Policy Planning Committee?

    Is this omission his remedy for deep-seated suspicion and mistrust? Looks to me like he's exacerbating suspicion and mistrust.

    He should withdraw Valentini's name and come up with someone objective and independent. And then a Committee should be formed to find a new Dean who is also objective and independent, among other qualities.

  19. "student" ?  

    Or administrator? That language is wack, yo.

  20. cc12

    Professor Valentini is definitely one of professors who cares a lot about his students. I remember asking him for a recommendation letter for a summer internship my freshman year. he basically set aside 40 minutes to chat with me so that he could write a good one. super super nice person!

  21. ...  

    valentini's teaching style for genchem was pretty whacky the semester i took it with him, (no syllabus), but refreshingly, this was because he actually gave a shit and was experimenting with his methods. it was clear that he put a lot of time and effort into carefully developing both the materials and the presentation for the course.

    too bad it was at 9am so that's pretty much about all i remember of it.

  22. Anonymous

    I love you, Valentini!! You will always be my favorite advisor, ever. <3

  23. Anonymous  

    \'In the last sentence college is not an abbreviation for Columbia College, but rather college in the general sense.'
    Whether it’s an abbreviation is not the point. Here Bollinger clearly uses the definitive article “the” when writing about “the college that founded Columbia.” Was “the college that founded Columbia” not the College itself? Why then not unequivocally write “the College”? \


    The way the sentence is structured, it wouldn't have made sense for Bollinger to write \the College that founded Columbia.\ As the previous poster said, he could have written \It was unthinkable to me that the College would not be seen as the very center of the University,\ but this structure seems to lack the initial emphasis. Think of it this way-- throughout the letter the use of \the College\ can be replaced with (the) Columbia College, but this replacement does not make sense in the structure of the last sentence of the 2nd paragraph.

  24. Llama '82

    Ladies and Gents,

    The real issue here is what exactly prompted Dean Moody's resignation.

    The University has been attempting to power-grab from the College ever since I graduated (in 1982), and probably had been for some time. Here's the rub; every CU President looks at the CC alumni contributions to the Columbia College Fund in a greedy, 'boy, I'd like to get me some of that!' way. CC alumni are loyal to the College, not the University. Not to hold myself as an example, but when I learned my employer-matched contributions to Columbia were going to some general University account I made sure our HR department added CCF as a specific recipient. I also asked the Alumni Association to contact CC alums who worked for my firm (a large one), but I don't know if they ever did.

    I'd like to hear from Dean Moody exactly what these restructuring plans were/are. I for one will stop donating on the spot if I learn that any CCF donations are being redirected to another school. And I'll bet a lot of my classmates and other alumni will feel the same.

  25. Useless indeed  

    I love how they couldn't even be bothered to find the conflict of interest. It's not a good sign when Bwog is doing better investigative reporting than the New York Times!

  26. Concerned CC Alum

    I agree with Llama -- as regular contributor to the College I plan to halt donations until I am assured that funds aren't redirected from the College funds to other schools. I am troubled by the lack of transparancy, and lack of concern for an appearance of impropriety.

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