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.
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.
Lee C. Bollinger