Connect with us

All Articles

Columbia College Dean Valentini Says Hello

Newly installed Dean of Columbia College James Valentini just sent an email introducing himself to all Columbia students. After offering a short biography, Valentini writes that he has been heavily involved with the College ever since he came to Columbia, and strongly values both the Core Curriculum and need-based financial aid for College students. He is almost certainly responding to rumors that Professor Michele Moody-Adams resigned because the University (specifically, the Policy and Planning Committee of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences) was considering cuts to the Core Curriculum and need-based financial aid, two costly University programs. Look out for Bwog’s interview with Dean Valentini, which we’ll be posting soon.

You can read the full email below. It’s really sweet, actually. We’re eager to see this introduction video. Wanna be in our new video series, Dean?

Dear Students,

To our new students, I say: “Welcome to the greatest College, in the greatest University, in the greatest city in the world.” To continuing students, I will say more simply, “Welcome back.” You already know the rest.

I am honored to serve as interim Dean of the College and Vice President for Undergraduate Education. My transition to Dean from being simply Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in Chemistry was a sudden one. Only a week ago I had no idea that this would be happening. But the road to Hamilton Hall has been a long one — one that started in a tiny coal-mining community in Appalachia with a population smaller than the number of students I teach in General Chemistry courses, and a high school graduating class the same size as a section of Lit Hum. I was the first in my family to attend college, and in the first few weeks there, was pretty much terrified. But I did manage to graduate, and as valedictorian, from the University of Pittsburgh, got an M.S. degree from The University of Chicago, a Ph. D. from the University of California, Berkeley, and was a post-doc at that school in Cambridge, Mass., that is erroneously considered to be our peer. I was fortunate to do graduate and post-doctoral research with two different Nobel Prize winners. I was a Professor at the University of California, Irvine before coming to Columbia in 1991.

I have been involved with the College and with College students for the entire twenty years I have been at Columbia, and this has been the most rewarding part of my Columbia experience. I have served on every College committee, have been leading the new Science Research Fellows effort, and last year developed the “Energy and Energy Conservation” course that satisfies the Core Science Requirement.

Many things make Columbia College special, but the Core is special among the special. The Core is not just a collection of required courses; it is the identity of Columbia College and the expression of our ideals. Among those ideals is the ironclad commitment to offer admission to the College based on ability to contribute to and benefit from the opportunities the College offers, not based on the ability to pay. The essential corollary of this is financial aid that removes ability to pay as a factor in students accepting our offers of admission.

My first few days as Dean have been spent listening to students, faculty, and alumni about their experience of and desires for the College. It is clear that primary among these is the desire for transparency in decision-making, and communication of information about the decision process. This we will provide, and in many different ways.

Student government representatives with whom I met today suggested that an important initial step in that communication would be a video introducing myself to you. That is a good suggestion, and one that I am acting on immediately. We expect to have such a video ready next week.

I have always told my students that the best way to have good ideas is to have many ideas, and the way to have many ideas is to engage everyone in thinking about issues of mutual concern. I welcome ideas from everyone in the Columbia College community. We have created a special email account for the submission of these ideas:

I look forward to meeting you and to working with you in the months ahead.

Roar, Lions Roar!

James J. Valentini

Write a comment

Your email address will not be published.



  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous notbad.gif

    1. Hi guys says:

      @Hi guys Can we declare war against Barnard anytime now? soon? please?

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Is there going to be a winter Bacchanal concert again? If so, Columbia needs to get Hoodie Allen to play here. I understand some may not like him or don’t even know who he is, but having to been to one of his shows, he can get a crowd hyped. Plus, we did have Mickey Avalon last year…Anything is better than that.

    1. ... says:

      @... Thanks for the tip, Hoodie.

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous Nope, just a fan.

  • Ugh says:

    @Ugh It’s Roar LION Roar. ONE LION.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous we are all lions

    2. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Yea i think he meant that we’re the lions. I don’t think he was singing the first line of the fight song.

      1. jjv1 says:

        @jjv1 No, I made a goddamn mistake. Don’t put words in my mouth, you shit-for-brains undergrad.

  • jjv says:

    @jjv rocks my socks

    1. He will probably be says:

      @He will probably be A really great dean

  • Anonymous says:


    Valentini is the man

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous spread my arms and soak up congratulations

  • NEVAR 4GET says:


    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous honestly i almost did

  • Have Your Say

    What should Bwog's new tagline be?

    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

    Recent Comments

    I would recommend CUNY professor William Helmreich's "The New York Nobody Knows." It's a great work of urban sociology (read more)
    What To Listen To, Read, And Watch If You Miss New York
    March 31, 2020
    how did the group name 'beta fish fight club' not make this list (read more)
    March Madness: Housing Edition
    March 30, 2020
    Every Ivy had a decline in applications. There are fewer high school seniors every year as well as fewer international (read more)
    Class Of 2024 Regular Decision Results Have Been Released
    March 30, 2020

    Comment Policy

    The purpose of Bwog’s comment section is to facilitate honest and open discussion between members of the Columbia community. We encourage commenters to take advantage of—without abusing—the opportunity to engage in anonymous critical dialogue with other community members. A comment may be moderated if it contains:
    • A slur—defined as a pejorative derogatory phrase—based on ethnicity, race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, or spiritual belief
    • Hate speech
    • Unauthorized use of a person’s identity
    • Personal information about an individual
    • Baseless personal attacks on specific individuals
    • Spam or self-promotion
    • Copyright infringement
    • Libel