This morning, Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed former Dean of SEAS Dr. Feniosky Peña-Mora as the new Commissioner of the Department of Design and Construction for New York City.
Peña-Mora served as SEAS’s fourteenth dean from 2009 to 2012, when he abruptly resigned from office in an event we dubbed Peñamonium. For freshmen and sophomores out there, this all happened after he received criticism from numerous Columbia faculty, most notably in the form of an open letter published in the New York Times. Most of the dissatisfaction with Peña-Mora centered around his rapid expansion of the school, which he failed to match by providing more space for research or by adequately increasing faculty. As a 2012 article by the Blue and White reads:
…the dean acknowledged that he hadn’t realized the severity of space limitations when he first came to Columbia. “I didn’t realize what ‘space crunch’ meant at Columbia. All institutions have issues with space,” he explained. “But […] Columbia has been choking to death.”
According to a press release from the Mayor’s office, in his new position, Peña-Mora “will be charged with building public works big and small, ranging from making streets safer as part of the Vision Zero initiative, to renovating and constructing municipal facilities.” We hope he can figure out the giant space crunch that is New York City.
Dr. Peña-Mora is currently the Edwin Howard Armstrong Professor of Civil Engineering Mechanics, Professor of Earth and Environmental Engineering, and Professor of Computer Science at SEAS.
Photo courtesy of Columbia University