Earlier this morning, The Eye published an article about shakeups in the upper echelons of the Columbia administration. The piece contained a couple of new nuggets in this seemingly never-ending story—including a summary of the infamous McKinsey report and changes to financial aid—but it can be difficult to keep track of everything that’s happened since Moodygate broke back in August 2011. So Bwog decided to put together a little guide to the latest news about Columbia’s administration and what effect, if any, this will have on your life. 

What’s the latest news about the McKinsey report?

Spec reporters apparently obtained a partial summary of the secret McKinsey report, which recommended three different options to reorganize the Arts & Sciences (A&S), an administrative grouping of the College, GS, GSAS (the liberal arts grad school), SIPA, and the School of the Arts.

The first option is the least radical, just calling for an additional “operating committee” to decide issues that involve multiple schools in FAS. Since the Dean of the College would probably be on this committee, it wouldn’t be a huge change from the status quo.

The second option is a little more centralized, suggesting that FAS create “functional heads” like a chief financial officer to decide policy for all schools in FAS. This would basically involve ceding authority for College matters from the Dean of the College (and other College administrators) to administrators in FAS who’d have to consider the interests of schools like GSAS and SIPA in addition to the College.

The final option calls for a major reorganization, basically putting the Provost—who would have to consider the interests of every school at Columbia—directly in charge of the A&S. The Dean of the College would only be responsible for the “care and feeding” of undergrads. Particularly in this option, the Dean is really no longer a leader; he or she couldn’t make decisions for the College but could only try to persuade and advise the Provost to make decisions.

Which of the three options did the University end up choosing?

None yet, although Nicholas Dirks, the vice-president of A&S did just announce the formation of an “executive committee” consisting of himself, Deantini, and the dean of GSAS, which seems similar to the “operating committee” called for in the first option.

What’s all this about financial aid? Will my financial aid be cut?

According to the Eye article, the College’s financial aid department was recently moved into the Provost’s office. Depending on the Provost’s priorities, this could be really good or really bad.

The College is always strapped for funds, while the University’s budget is much larger. If the University is serious about financial aid for undergraduates, then, they’ll be able to take money out of that large budget and put it directly into a pool for College students’ financial aid.

On the other hand, the University budget also includes many more things expenses—like facilities costs, that school we run on 110th street, and of course Manhattanville—that will be competing with financial aid for funds. At this point, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

Will the Provost prioritize the College?

It’s hard to say. The last provost, Claude Steele, left two months before Moody-Adams to become Dean of Stanford’s education school. He was replaced by the Dean of SIPA, John Coatsworth. The general consensus seems to be that Steele was a relatively weak provost (possibly because he came to Columbia from Stanford, so didn’t have a good understanding of how things get done at Columbia), so Bollinger’s right-hand man Robert Kasdin basically ran the show. Coatsworth is thought to be a stronger provost, but it isn’t clear whether College financial aid is something he’ll fight for.

Wait, what exactly is Moodygate?

“Moodygate” is the scandal that was sparked late last summer when Michele Moody-Adams, the Dean of Columbia College, sent a harsh email to prominent alumni announcing she was resigning from the deanship because the central Columbia administration was pursuing policies that would hurt the College. She had planned to resign at the end of the year but once this letter went public, Prezbo announced that she should resign immediately. Deantini took over as interim dean, and Nicholas Dirks announced that they would begin the search for a new dean.

The search was delayed for months, until it was announced 2 weeks ago that the search was now limited to internal candidates and would be over by the end of the semester—which may be a clear sign that “interim” Deantini could soon become permanent dean. The committee consists of some professors, alumni, two students from the Undergraduate Recruitment Committee, and Prezbu (i.e. CCSC President Karishma Habbu).

And without further ado, here’s the Eye’s scoop on the McKinsey report:

A summary of the document, obtained for this story, sheds some light on the specific proposals that may have prompted Moody-Adams’ concerns.

The summary outlines three potential new structures for the Arts and Sciences, corresponding to low, moderate, and high degrees of reorganization. “Type 1” maintains the existing structure but adds a chief of staff for the executive vice president and establishes an “Operating Committee” for the Arts and Sciences to decide “cross-cutting A&S issues (e.g., financial aid and admissions policies).” The members of the Operating Committee are not specified, but the report suggests that it include school deans or new divisional deans for the sciences, humanities, and social sciences.

“Type 2” relies more heavily on the proposed divisional deans. It calls for a chief of staff but also suggests the creation of “functional heads,” such as a chief financial officer or a head of human resources, who would set policy across the Arts and Sciences. The summary acknowledges that convincing the constituent schools to turn over authority to the functional heads “likely requires Central University mandate.”

The most extensive proposal, “Type 3,” integrates the leadership of Arts and Sciences into the central University. It suggests establishing the provost, or a leader directly under his aegis, as the key administrator for the arts and sciences. In this centralized setup, the individual deans and department chairs would directly report to one powerful overseer.

All three strategies seek to narrow the responsibilities of the individual schools’ deans. The summary explains that “school deans [will] have approval rights over matters that require local attention,” such as residential life, study abroad, student activities, and the “care and feeding” of undergraduates. In contrast, control of key areas—including the hiring of new faculty, creation of new programs, fundraising goals, and faculty salaries—would be transferred to divisional deans or the executive vice president for Arts and Sciences.