The school year might be over as far as final exams and cat-naps in Butler go, but as we learned last summer, there’s never a dull moment for the admin.
As SEAS seniors and their Dean get ready to tear up South Lawn, their student council remind us that there’s more to the story, with a newly released statement reaffirming their confidence in Dean Peña-Mora’s “commitment to undergraduate students.” You can check out all two paragraphs after the jump, but bear with us for a few bullets if you need a recap.
- Last October, members of the SEAS faculty expressed dissatisfaction with Dean Peña-Mora’s stint at Columbia in the form of a letter to Provost Coatsworth
- However, we had no idea ’til it was leaked to/published by the NYT in early December; main complaints were that the Dean refused to listen to other staffers, and that his hiring decisions were made at the expense of academic interests
- At the time, Deaña-Mora declined to comment—but, last month, he sat down with Bwog and addressed some of the concerns outlined in the letter; Choice excerpt: “The departments are like states, and states have their interests. But the federal government has to do what’s best for the country as a whole. I need to make decisions that are best for SEAS as a whole.”
- But wait! That’s not all for leadership drama—way back when (and by “when” we mean “August”), former CC Dean Michele Moody-Adams rocked our
worldsinboxes with a surprise resignation, to later be chalked up to lots of complicated questions about protecting the College and dubbed Moodygate
- Chem professor James Valentini took over as the interim Dean of the College back in early September, and earlier this month, he talked to Bwog about some of the issues facing the College.
- More than a month ago, PrezBo announced the formation of a student/faculty committee put in place to select a permanent Dean; just last week, the timeline for that decision got pushed back to the end of May “at the earliest”
May 12, 2012
To the Editor:
With the academic year wrapping up and summer quickly approaching, the Engineering Student Council would like to make a statement reaffirming our confidence in Dean Peña-Mora’s commitment to undergraduate students. We believe that Dean Peña-Mora has and will continue to maintain his strong and fruitful working relationship with the undergraduate engineering community.
Since becoming the Dean three years ago, he has continuously strived to improve the undergraduate engineering experience. Through his many initiatives to reach out to the students, Dean Peña-Mora has actively maintained both visibility and accessibility to student groups and individual students.
We are confident that the Dean will further enhance the undergraduate engineering student life and educational experience. We look forward to working with the Dean next year.
Tim Qin, President
Bora Kim, VP Policy
Sheila Misheni, VP Student Life
Siddhant Bhatt, VP Finance
Caroline Taylor, VP Communications
Akshay Shah, University Senator
@no No, the dean has not, actually, “done an amazing job of turning the school around”. Ranking was over 30 in 2001, 20, in 2007, below 20 in 2008, and has been on a generally improving trend for almost 15 years. Thinking that the dean somehow “did” this is really blind.
@There's a difference Between visibility/accessibility, and actually being an active proponent of the undergraduate student body. Which is not to say that he hasn’t done ANYTHING; but which is to say that this letter from the ESC is either uninformed (acknowledging their collective experience on ESC, how long has this board been in place and working directly with PM, again?), praising the wrong virtues or blind to the real problem.
Importantly, it seems like it would be difficult for the dean to affect much meaningful change in the realm of undergraduate education absent some clout with the tenured faculty, who in my experience are often the barrier to progress here (mainly a fear of the unknown/general resistance to change).
@Anonymous What kind of change are you looking for exactly? Your entire response seems be centered on bashing ESC and Pena Mora. ESC members and the Dean have worked on a variety of policies such as public course evaluations (passed by the Senate), new minors for SEAS students, adding more non-technical courses, improving/creating internship programs specifically for SEAS undergraduates, and much much more.
To merely dismiss these improvements shows that you have a vendetta against ESC & the Dean, you are simply uninformed, or you are blind to the improvements that have been made.
Supporting the Dean in undergraduate matters does not mean ignoring the faculty. This situation is not “us” vs. the Faculty and it is not a two-sided conversation. There are a range of issues and discussions. Supporting the Dean does not mean ESC members or whoever else does not want to engage the faculty.
Please do list the “real” problems that you believe the Dean/ESC has missed. It would be enlightening to know. Are you referring to space issues or financial aid? Every school has spacing issues, but last I heard CC had to move classes to 8am in the morning due to a lack of space. I think SEAS has managed quite well. Financial aid? Dean Shollenberger just announced a committee of 8 to look at these issues. CCSC and ESC are also looking at these issues.
As for meaningful change, the Dean has done an amazing job of turning the school around, building infrastructure for the school, raising money, and helping improve the engineering student experience.
Please don’t diminish these accomplishments and very tangible results simply because you are ignorant of the facts.
@Anonymous The engineering faculty operates like a private club that treats students as irrelevant pawns that can be milked at will. This is why they prefer foreign students, whose visas they can threaten and who willingly conspire in grant grubbing shenanigans.
@Anonymous you should name the professors or be more specific if there were such cases. no one in the US should have their freedom taken away
@Anonymous DOES ESC AGREE WITH THE DEAN THAT YOUR PROFS ARE RACISTS?
@Anonymous Did the dean actually claim the faculty is racist? If so, all the more reason for him to go. In either case, he clearly is incompetent and not suited for the job.
@Anonymous Where is New York Times? We want to see the letter signed by the politicians claiming racism at Columbia. I said “signed” because I don’t know who was the one who actually wrote the letter.
ESC please make your stand clear about racism.
@signatories signatories are listed here in a story about the letter: http://www.eldiariony.com/article/20111209/IMPORT01/312099911
@La carta está firmada por por el senador estatal Adriano Espaillat, el Concejal Ydanis Rodríguez, los asambleístas Guillermo Linares y Herman Denny Farrell Jr., el senador estatal Bill Perkins y el Concejal Robert Jackson
@Anonymous Pressurized by the Dean as he lobbied for support?
The best possible title for him is Dean of Student Affairs.
Think about the welfare of fellow classmates, but not your personal gain by polishing up the CV.
@fsda do you mean “pressured”? did feni ask studetns to write letters of support?
@Anonymous I wish ESC would get it through their thick heads, no one gives a fuck what they think about this “scandal”. This isn’t about undergrads. Its about professors.
@The Dark Hand >implying anyone gives a fuck what undergrads think.
>implying the ESC aren’t just an extension of the interests of the University’s powers that be in the form of undergraduate sock puppets.
@Anonymous DOES ANYONE KNOW IF THE BOOKSTORE WILL REOPEN AFTER 3PM TODAY?
@Anonymous Alumni do. Administrators do. And students do.
To replace a Dean of a school involves more than simply the professors. The Dean of a school is not there to serve the professors. He or she oversees all functions of the school, which includes administration, alumni, professors, and students.
As of right now it would seem that only the professors are against Dean Pena Mora, while he has vast amounts of support amongst the administrators, alumni, and students. Who are you to discount the opinions of students?
@admin? i heard the opposite about admin, at least from outside SEAS
@Anonymous Actually, many people do, including Prezbo.
@your mom cares