The University is recording faculty stances tomorrow on its plan to integrate Columbia College and the School of General Studies further into Arts and Sciences, the University division which also oversees a number of graduate schools.

Tomorrow, Columbia faculty will be asked to vote on three proposals relating to Arts and Sciences, a department that encompasses Columbia College, the School of General Studies, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the School of the Arts, and the School of Professional Studies. The proposals would restructure CC’s relationship with the larger department, further integrating the CC and GS administrations into the Arts and Sciences administration and shifting the balance of power between the deans of the two colleges and the larger department. 

News of the vote has reached the student councils of Columbia College and the School of General Studies, and some members have expressed growing concerns over the consequences of the vote, as well as an April 8 report by the Task Force on the Relationship of the Arts & Sciences and the College. The report contained a number of recommendations for how CC and GS can “restructure” their relationship with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, namely by “incorporat[ing] a graduate element” into the undergraduate schools’ Committee on Instruction (COI). 

Of the suggested changes to the structure of Arts and Sciences, CC faculty will vote on three specific proposals tomorrow. The first proposal, if endorsed by faculty, would create a subcommittee of the Policy and Planning Committee (PPC), which would be responsible for overseeing the “integration of educational policy, curricular review, and transparent communication across the Arts and Sciences.” The second proposal asks faculty to endorse “collective fundraising and combined development activities” between CC and Arts and Sciences, encouraging the CC Dean and Executive Vice President of Arts and Sciences to work together more often for day-to-day University functions. The third proposal would give the PPC and Department Chairs and the University President collaborative power to review the performance of the Executive Vice President of Arts and Sciences, Dean of CC, Dean of GS, and Dean of GSAS when they are respectively eligible for reappointment, or when a new candidate is being appointed to one of these positions. 

When the report was initially published, CCSC released a statement opposing a number of the proposed changes. According to their statement, the move would “render the College unable to advocate for itself” and make it a “subordinate” of Arts and Sciences, rather than a partner. When asked for comment, CCSC President Radhika Mehta told Bwog that it is essential all faculty understand the policies attached to the proposals on which they’re voting, and how they will affect the student body, writing, “these policy changes would be disastrous to the college, and [I] hope that they can be stopped.” 

In particular, CCSC has expressed concerns that the suggestions made in the April 8 Task Force report would increase distance between students and faculty, as the “diminishing” of the role of the Dean of Columbia College in favor of the new Dean of Arts and Sciences would “[strip] undergraduates of an advocate who is able to act on their behalf.”  

A similar proposal was made, and ultimately rejected, in 2011, in an incident that became known as “Moodygate.” In response to the proposal, then-Dean of Columbia College Michele Moody-Adams resigned in protest, stating, “I cannot in good conscience carry out a role that I believe to be detrimental to the welfare of the College.” The rejected plan was composed by consulting firm McKinsey & Company. 

The April 8 report suggests the creation of a joint oversight committee to oversee curriculum across the Arts and Sciences. Currently, academic decisions for CC and GS are overseen by the COI, a body made up of deans, faculty members, and student representatives. The COI is responsible for major academic decisions pertaining to the two colleges, including the approval of new courses, majors, and concentrations, as well as grading policies such as the decision to implement universal P/D/F for students in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In their report, the Task Force suggested the creation of an “expanded COI,” extending the purview of the committee to include oversight of academic decisions pertaining to all of Arts and Sciences. 

According to the report, the new Dean of Arts and Sciences would be given influence over fundraising and budgetary matters on equal terms with the Dean of CC. The report recommends that, “the existing offices of development within the Arts and Sciences and Columbia College be reorganized to serve both the College and the Arts and Sciences as a whole.” CCSC opposes this change, alleging it would render the College unable to control its own finances.

Ahead of tomorrow’s vote, CCSC sent an email to CC students this afternoon urging them to encourage their professors to vote against the three proposals. According to the email, the task force’s recent proposals contain recommendations that would significantly reduce the power of Columbia College’s administration. The full text of CCSC’s email can be found below.

Sharing a similar sentiment to Mehta and other CCSC members, GSSC President Serengeti Timungwa told Bwog that GSSC is “weary of further integrating or centralizing decisions intimately tied to the undergraduate experience with that of graduate experiences,” and emphasized that the role of the GS Dean on the COI would be significantly reduced if the suggestions made in the report were enacted. Specifically, according to Timungwa, while the GS Dean currently serves as co-chair of the COI alongside the CC Dean, the expanded COI would demote GS Dean to a general body position, which GSSC fears will mean “GSers’ needs will be drowned out.” Jerome Brackins Jr., GS Student Representative on the COI and primary author of GSSC’s own statement on the Task Force report, told Bwog that “diminishing the role of the GS Dean would be disastrous for GS students and undergraduate education.” 

When asked for comment on the proposed changes, Chair of the Policy and Planning Committee Rhiannon Stephens told Bwog, “I am very sympathetic to the concerns that CC and GS students have raised about the importance of their representation on any new body ensuring the integration of educational policy and curricular review, as are other members of the PPC,” and stated that if the first proposal is approved by faculty tomorrow, and a PPC subcommittee is indeed created, it would “consult with students as part of its work.” 

In the event that the proposals pass tomorrow’s faculty vote, CCSC has issued a preemptive Vote of No Confidence against the Bollinger Administration, declaring that they will “no longer [support] President Bollinger, Provost Boyce, and other members of their administration,” and that they “no longer have faith in their leadership.” Though they did not take the same action as their counterpart, members of GSSC concluded their statement by reminding the faculty of Art and Sciences that GS representation is essential to making sure that all students’ needs are met, and the proposed restructuring could have “long-lasting ramifications on the academic well-being of GS students.”

Email sent from CCSC President Radhika Mehta to CC students on Tuesday at 4:26 pm:

Hi all,

No fun and fancy and absurdly colorful mailchimp email this time. 

I am writing with bad news — President Bollinger and his administration (the people that work in Low Library) are trying to restructure Columbia in a way that will take autonomy and funding away from the College by engulfing it into the larger body of Arts and Sciences. As CCSC wrote in our statement on this matter, the policies that they are trying to implement were first recommended by the management consulting firm, McKinsey, in 2011. When President Bollinger tried to restructure at that time, CC Dean Michele Moody-Adams resigned, stating that “changes of this kind will ultimately compromise the College’s academic quality and financial health.” Not only does CCSC oppose these changes, but so do the CC Board of Visitors, the Columbia College Alumni Association, and many faculty. However, not everyone is aware of how bad these changes would be. 

Tomorrow, faculty will be asked to vote on three principles that are essentially false advertisements for these policy changes. We need each of you to click here and email your faculty members ASAP to tell them to vote NO to sapping the College of both its administrative power and monetary resources. Please please please click the link and email your professors. Clicking the link will bring you to a pre-filled template email, so all you need to do is add your professors email addresses, names, and your signature at the bottom.

If you’re interested in learning more about this issue, please read our statement and/or look out for articles being published by the Columbia Spectator and Bwog later this afternoon.

Thank you so much!


Rads & CCSC

This is an ongoing story; Bwog will report the results of the faculty vote and update with necessary information.

Campus via Bwog Archives