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Coatsworth To Assume Permanent Provost Role

In the latest installment of unexpected email announcements, PrezBo has just sent word that Interim Provost John Coatsworth will assume the permanent Provost position. Coatsworth, former SIPA dean, took over for Claude Steele on July 1, 2011, when Steele made the move out West to Stanford. Writes ‘Bo:

“Provost is responsible for ensuring that the University’s programs and faculty are of the very highest quality. During the past seven months, John has demonstrated consummate skill in leading Columbia forward on a host of complex matters critical to our future, including the establishment of a Standing Tenure Committee; continued progress on the University’s Initiative to Enhance Faculty and Pipeline Diversity; remediation of a structural budget deficit which had long burdened the Faculty of Arts and Sciences; and coordination of Columbia’s proposal to New York City for a new Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering. These initiatives reflect John’s determination to enlist the resources of the University for the purpose of strengthening partnerships between and among Columbia’s distinguished schools and departments, with the goal of making the University and its reputation greater than the sum of its parts.”

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

I am writing to say that I have asked John Coatsworth, who has served as an extraordinarily effective interim University Provost since last summer, to continue on as the permanent Provost.

As Columbia’s chief academic officer, the Provost is responsible for ensuring that the University’s programs and faculty are of the very highest quality. During the past seven months, John has demonstrated consummate skill in leading Columbia forward on a host of complex matters critical to our future, including the establishment of a Standing Tenure Committee; continued progress on the University’s Initiative to Enhance Faculty and Pipeline Diversity; remediation of a structural budget deficit which had long burdened the Faculty of Arts and Sciences; and coordination of Columbia’s proposal to New York City for a new Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering. These initiatives reflect John’s determination to enlist the resources of the University for the purpose of strengthening partnerships between and among Columbia’s distinguished schools and departments, with the goal of making the University and its reputation greater than the sum of its parts.

The many deans, faculty members and administrators who have worked with John in this capacity have found him to be an exemplary partner in advancing these and other initiatives to enhance Columbia’s mission and values. With a combination of great intellectual insight and personal grace, he has been able to focus on the critical intersection between academic excellence and the quality of life for faculty, students, and staff. These are challenging tasks for anyone, and John has taken them on with enthusiasm and effectiveness.

John’s distinguished background as both a scholar and administrator includes his successful tenure as Dean of our School of International and Public Affairs, a post from which he will now step down. A highly respected expert on Latin American international and economic history, John taught at the University of Chicago from 1969 to 1992, and then joined the Harvard faculty as Monroe Gutman Professor of Latin American Affairs, where he became the founding director of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies. John is a former president of the American Historical Association and the Latin American Studies Association, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Council on Foreign Relations.

In a remarkably short time, John has been a transformational dean at SIPA, leading the school’s transition into a fully self-governing unit of the University. I am committed to ensuring that the progress he has made at the school continues and have therefore asked Vice Dean for Academic Affairs at SIPA, Robert C. Lieberman, Professor of International and Public Affairs and Political Science, to serve as SIPA’s dean on an interim basis while an advisory group assists us in conducting a search for a permanent dean in the months ahead. An expert in the areas of American political development, social welfare policy and race and politics, Robert has been honored with multiple awards and prizes.

I am, personally, very pleased that John will serve in this vital University role and as my colleague. Columbia is such an extraordinary institution, with momentum on so many fronts, and a potential unmatched by any other university in the world, and it is a gift to all of us that John will bring his wonderful talents to bear the work ahead.

Sincerely,

Lee C. Bollinger

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19 Comments

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Thank god! I was worried there weren’t enough white dudes in key leadership positions. 3 for 3 (Bollinger, Dirks, Coatsworth). I feel a lot better now. I guess Columbia’s commitment to a diverse student body doesn’t extend up to its commitment to diverse leadership. Nice signal to send. You’re good enough to come here, but not to lead.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous there’s more to diversity and a person than the color of their skin. grow up…

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous Like their gender, perhaps?

    2. I take your point, says:

      @I take your point, but please, not this again. The awkward race debate that the press has been trying to turn this into is, in my opinion, completely uncalled for. Steele resigned due to having been offered a better job, and the rest has to do with Columbia’s allocation of funds and its apparent disdain for undergraduate education rather than race. I’d wait and see what Coatsworth does with his job before criticizing him for being a white dude (which I am not, by the way).

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous Steele resigned due to having been offered a better job? Give me a break! He was the chief academic officer of the University! That’s supposed to be a great job! I suspect Steele came to understand that no one academic has any real power around here any more. All important decisions have to do with what helps raise money or the profile of the university (e.g., the global centers, with no discernible academic purpose or oversight).

    3. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Where were you for the last ten years when most of Columbia’a deans and administrators were black and or women?

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous by “most” you mean one person? of all the provosts at CU they’ve all be men. one black man.

        http://www.provost.columbia.edu/previous_provosts

        or perhaps you mean the vice presidents? of which all have been men, all white.

        http://www.columbia.edu/cu/vpas/about/history.html

        perhaps you mean the president of columbia? wait for it… i’ll let you guess… all white. all men.

        http://www.columbia.edu/cu/president/docs/history/index.html

        yeah dude. “most” of the top three administrators have been black or women. by which you mean 1. who was quickly driven out.

  • The issue is says:

    @The issue is Coatsworth doesn’t have tenure.

    The “most important responsibility” of the provost, according to the provost’s own website (http://provost.columbia.edu/responsibilities) “is to decide, with the assistance of the Tenure Review Advisory Committee, who should be recommended to the President and Trustees for tenure.”

    He can’t vote or decide on tenure processes if he doesn’t have tenure himself. Did we just appoint the first non-tenured Provost in the history of the Ivy League?

  • The issue is says:

    @The issue is Coatsworth doesn’t have tenure.

    The “most important responsibility” of the provost, according to the provost’s own website (provost.columbia.edu/responsibilities) “is to decide, with the assistance of the Tenure Review Advisory Committee, who should be recommended to the President and Trustees for tenure.”

    He can’t vote or decide on tenure processes if he doesn’t have tenure himself. Did we just appoint the first non-tenured Provost in the history of the Ivy League?

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Spec asked him about this earlier (http://www.columbiaspectator.com/2012/02/17/breaking-coatsworth-permanently-appointed-provost). It’s an interesting question.

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous That comment was supposed to be a reply to the tenure question.

        1. Anonymous says:

          @Anonymous The Provost and the Deans should not have tenure because these are administrators. Without a tenure, they can be fired by doing a poor job.

          1. Anonymous says:

            @Anonymous Being a tenured professor and a dean/provost/admin simultaneously doesn’t prevent you from being fired from your dean/provost/admin position. See Moody-Adams; she was fired as CC dean but is still a tenured professor in the Philosophy department.

  • Zzz says:

    @Zzz Oh, sorry, I fell asleep amidst all the bureaucratic power plays.

    – CC ’12

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Coatsworth doesn’t have tenure? Are there any other Deans who are without tenure?
    It is alright to not have tenure compared to not getting tenure!

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous ONLY FO MEE! ONLY FO MEE! ONLY FO MEE! ONLY FO MEE!

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Steele didn’t leave because he got a better job. If you think being the dean of a (low status) school within a University is a better job than being the provost of a University, then you can’t think that highly of Columbia.

    1. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous Right. I heard his boss here was a real d-bag.

  • Marion Coatsworth Hay of Marblehead says:

    @Marion Coatsworth Hay of Marblehead I’m sorry, but I will never be able to hear this guy’s name without thinking of one of my favorite West Wing moments, and as such I cannot take him seriously.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtwaDbXK440

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