This story is part of our Orientation 2012 special issue. Check out our complete guide to life at Columbia here.
Name: Lee Bollinger
Job: University president
What you need to know: You’ll rarely see him around campus, but Bollinger—a.k.a. “PrezBo”—has made a big impact in his decade at Columbia’s helm. He’s been the driving force behind the University’s expansion into Manhattanville, pushing the satellite campus from idea to reality despite years of local opposition and court challenges. He’s also overseen the development of Columbia’s burgeoning network of global centers.
Name: James Valentini
Job: Dean of Columbia College
What you need to know: Valentini, a chemistry professor, was named dean last September, following Michele Moody-Adams’ sudden resignation after just two years as dean. Valentini has made himself a student favorite by increasing transparency, supporting mental-health initiatives, and embracing his nickname, “Deantini” (just see the engraved nameplate on his desk). It didn’t hurt that he handed out candy canes in Butler Library during finals last December.
Name: Donald Goldfarb
Job: Interim dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science
What you need to know: Having been appointed interim dean in July, Goldfarb is largely an unknown to students. His predecessor, Feniosky Peña-Mora, resigned after a faculty revolt, and Goldfarb was bumped up from executive vice dean, a faculty affairs-focused position he had held since November. This is Goldfarb’s second stint as the engineering school’s interim dean.
Name: Peter Awn
Job: Dean of the School of General Studies
What you need to know: Awn is a 15-year fixture at GS and a popular figure among students, known for his sharp wardrobe and sense of humor. A longtime religion professor, Awn still teaches a class on Islam every spring, pulling in solid student reviews on CULPA, the Columbia Underground Listing of Professor Ability.
Name: Avis Hinkson
Job: Dean of Barnard College
What you need to know: During her year and a half as dean, Hinkson, BC ’84, has mostly made news for a series of controversial policy changes. She came under fire from students last fall when Barnard decided to start charging part-time students full-time tuition, and again last month, after a severe housing shortage prompted the college to revoke the housing guarantees of students returning from academic or medical leaves of absence.
Name: Debora Spar
Job: President of Barnard College
What you need to know: Spar said in her 2008 inauguration speech that one of her main goals would be expanding Barnard’s global presence, and so far she’s followed through, with the college starting a Visiting International Students Program and hosting women’s leadership symposia around the world. Spar is an expert on the economics of human fertility, and she’s been a member of Goldman Sachs’ board of directors since June 2011.
Name: Jessica Marinaccio
Job: Dean of undergraduate admissions and financial aid
What you need to know: You might recognize Marinaccio’s name from your long-awaited Columbia acceptance letter. She’s been in charge of CC and SEAS admission since 2004, but when the admissions and financial aid offices were consolidated this summer, Marinaccio was pegged to run them both.
Name: Kevin Shollenberger
Job: CC and SEAS dean of student affairs
What you need to know: Shollenberger is one of the most visible Columbia administrators and can be seen at shows, concerts, and performances, or handing out cookies in Lerner. He’s headed up the Division of Student Affairs since 2008, and he was immortalized in 2010’s Varsity Show as Ke$ho: dean by day, pop singer by night.
On Twitter: @KShoAtColumbia
Name: Terry Martinez
Job: Dean of community development and multicultural affairs
What you need to know: If you want to get something done on campus, talk to Martinez. One of the warmest Columbia administrators, she is here to “develop community”—meaning, whether it’s an outing to a Broadway show or an ethnic restaurant tour, she’s all ears. She’s had the job for three years.
On Twitter: @DeanTMartinez
Name: Charles Rangel
Job, time on job: U.S. Representative for Harlem and Upper Manhattan, 41 years
What you need to know: The third-most senior member of the House, Rangel is a powerhouse and the face of Harlem politics. Not even an ethics investigation in 2010 could dethrone him. Many find his blunt candor divisive, but he is known for getting fellow congresspeople to compromise.
On Twitter: @cbrangel
Name: Michael Bloomberg
Job, time on job: Mayor of New York City
What you need to know: This summer, Bloomberg gave Columbia $15 million to fund a data sciences institute. He’s known for his groundbreaking, often controversial laws—he successfully pushed to ban smoking in restaurants and parks, and he’s now working to eliminate the sale of sodas in large containers—as well as his big personality (and checkbook). He’s been mayor for 10 years.
On Twitter: @MikeBloomberg
Name: Karishma Habbu, CC ’13
Job: Columbia College Student Council president
What you need to know: Habbu is president of one of four undergraduate student councils. The other student council presidents are Tim Qin (Engineering Student Council), Jennifer Wisdom (General Studies Student Council), and JungHee Hyun (Barnard’s Student Government Association. All four were elected in April and have previous experience in student or University government.