Two students will serve on the search committee for a permanent dean of Columbia College, to be selected from a pool of internal candidates, University President Lee Bollinger announced on Wednesday. The committee is expected to submit its recommendation by the end of the year.
In an email, Bollinger said that the search committee will be accepting nominations between now and April 15, and will then conduct interviews with a select number of candidates. He said that he hopes that by the end of this academic year he will be able to make the selection with Provost John Coatsworth and Executive Vice President Nicholas Dirks based on the recommendation of the committee.
Chemistry professor James Valentini was appointed interim dean after Michele Moody-Adams resigned in August, and has been a much more visible figure among students than his predecessor, hosting office hours, attending campus events, and offering a Milano Market sandwich to the winner of a Bwog contest to come up with a nickname for himself. (A plaque of “Deantini,” the winning entry, sits on his desk.)
Valentini is widely perceived to be a frontrunner for the job. In an interview last week, he said that he would accept the position as permanent dean if offered.
“Dean Valentini has done a wonderful job and so he would make a terrific candidate,” Coatsworth said in an interview. “We would look for somebody who would be a superb administrator and who understands and embraces the educational goals of the College. We would look for somebody who would work well with students and alumni and the rest of the University.”
Eight faculty members, two alumni, and two students—J.T. Ramseur and Mary Kircher, both CC ’13—will serve on the committee.
Although the committee has not yet convened, Ramseur said he was excited that the administration was “trying to have student representation.”
“I’m going to try keep in mind all of the concerns I hear from my fellow CC students,” he said.
The search process differs markedly from the last search for a dean of the college. The committee that selected Moody-Adams, who came from Cornell, spent nine months looking for candidates both from Columbia and outside, whereas this committee will spend a month, making its selection only from internal candidates.
“The president has in mind that this is a complicated and important job and so experience at Columbia would be a real asset to anyone who was considered,” Coatsworth said.
Besides Ramseur and Kircher, the committee members include Ruth DeFries, professor of sustainable development and environmental science; Tom DiPrete, professor of sociology; Stuart Firestein, chair of the biology department; Christia Mercer, chair of Literature Humanities; Bob O’Meally, professor of English and director of the Center for Jazz Studies; Cathy Popkin, professor of Slavic languages; Kyra Barry, CC ’87 and president of the Columbia College Alumni Association; and Yale Fergang, CC ’87 and SEAS ’88.
It will also include two other faculty members, from whom Bollinger said he is still awaiting confirmation.