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What’ll Storbeck Cost Us?

Storbeck and Pimentel


In early November, Deans Valentini and Boyce announced that they’d be replacing KSho with a candidate selected by the academic-admin-headhunter-pros at Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates. (As it happens, they’re the same people that situated KSho at JHop.)

While there is a student committee to aid the search, this outside help is a new twist on the usual undergraduate dean search we’ve seen over the years. The powers that be opted for the firm that boasts a collective “more than a hundred years of experience in the executive search industry.” (That’s almost as long as the Morningside campus has sat on earth!)

On a whim, Bwog asked Sydney Gross (media person for Columbia College) if we could see the contract. Unsurprisingly, she said no. So Bwog pawed through Storbeck’s client list for public universities that have used SPA to find a student affairs czar, and fired off some Freedom of Information requests.

To date, Bwog’s gotten one back, a contract from 2007 between Storbeck and the University of California, Berkeley. Here’s that contract, and here’re the resultant invoices.

What do those say? Storbeck/Pimentel’s services cost the People of the State of California $74,965.14.

To be frank, that didn’t sound like all that much to Bwog. I mean, you don’t even wanna know how many Lit Hum/CC adjuncts that’d fund—but $75k? That’s barely tuition. However, the Columbia contract is almost certainly more than that, for at least three reasons:

  1. The firm was founded in 2007. This search was conducted in 2007. So this was one of their first gigs. They probably didn’t have >100 collective years and 2,000 executive searches then, and their fee can only have risen with their reputation.
  2. Inflation: $74,965.14 then works out to $84,910 now.
  3. Berkeley got a special flat rate to recognize a pre-established relationship between Ms. Storbeck or Mr. Pimentel and someone at Berkeley. To our knowledge, Columbia does not have such a relationship.

So, how much will this finding this new Dean of Student Affairs cost? More than $75k.

Storbeck/Pimentel via

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  • 300K says:

    @300K is more than the VP makes a year.

  • bjw2119 says:

    @bjw2119 Awesome research, guys. I’m glad campus media actually still does real investigations.

    1. Agree says:

      @Agree Actual investigative reporting! So happy!

    2. Futurama meme says:

      @Futurama meme Can’t tell if you’re being serious or just demonstrating expert use of sarcasm

  • the rest of the world says:

    @the rest of the world Muckracking. Someone want to find average median salaries for Columbia Undergraduates for us?

  • it's not that much money reallt says:

    @it's not that much money reallt if you think about it, that’s about the fees of two students here. if they do a good job and find us a great dean i think it’s totally worth it. i mean if finding deans is their shit, i’d assume they’d do a half decent job at any rate.

    1. it's not that much money reallt says:

      @it's not that much money reallt @it’s not that much money reallt: really*

    2. Anonymous says:

      @Anonymous sure, it’s not that much money… except when you consider how they nickle/dime us students. or consider how stingy F@CU is (literally, the distribution of student life fees is called fuck-you).

      and except when you consider that we’re Columbia. if we want a good dean, we can call for applications. people will apply.

      Things I’d rather have than this search, for the money:

      1. one more deserving student on full aid
      2. a renovated lerner hall
      3. 8500 pizzas put out for students on the lerner ramps, a few each Friday, until they run out
      4. 11,000 tee shirts
      5. every core instructor to get a share, thereby increasing their pay from (shit) to (shit + 75k/number of instructors)

      1. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous amen to better pay for the core teachers, they’re some of the best people on campus

      2. Anonymous says:

        @Anonymous yes what we need is 11000 t-shirts, that will make this university a better place

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous Yesss to #5

  • Anonymous says:

    @Anonymous “…they’re the same people that situated KSho at JHop”

    Academic headhunters hire out of their own clients?

  • wow says:

    @wow i don’t have 100 “collective” years of experience, but i’ll gladly do it for 10% of the price.

    heck, 5% since i love columbia so much.

  • GSAS grad student/CC alum says:

    @GSAS grad student/CC alum This seems to reflect the administrative culture at Columbia. When I was an undergraduate, I remember feeling that beyond the financial aid office (which was the only reason I could attend Columbia in the first place), the university didn’t really care for me. There seemed to be hundreds of deans (or those in dean-like positions) who were ostensibly set up to help me. In practice few, if any, existed to actually make my educational experience anything but the status quo. At Columbia, that meant something mostly lonely.

    Now as a graduate student, I’m surrounded by professors and TAs who feel like they’re constantly being nickeled and dimed by the university. There are so many ways to make the experience better—perhaps first by replacing some of the adjunct faculty with those on the tenure track. Whenever this idea is brought up, we’re inevitably told that it’s just not in the university budget to do so.

    And so, this is Columbia. We have an endless amount of money to hire external companies to do what can be done cheaply inside the university: from hiring McKinsey, to this headhunting firm, to the egregious costs of those commencement tents. But, would the university pay a dime to somehow make the undergraduate experience more worthwhile? Or the graduate? Or the professorial? Not if it impinges on the administrative experience.

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