Provost John Coatsworth is putting the finishing touches on a faculty committee that will advise him on undergraduate financial aid and admissions policies.
Coatsworth told Spectator on Friday that he is planning to announce the committee’s members this week. The committee will comprise nine professors from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and two faculty members from professional schools, as well as Columbia College Dean James Valentini, School of Engineering and Applied Science Interim Dean Donald Goldfarb, and Executive Vice President for Arts and Sciences Nicholas Dirks.
Columbia is known for several undergraduate admissions and financial aid policies common among top universities, including need-blind admissions for domestic students and full-need financial aid that does not include loans. Coatsworth, who is still in the process of choosing the committee’s final faculty member, said that the group will give him “insight on what policies we are pursuing” at CC and SEAS.
“What are our objectives when we go out to recruit a class? What do we want new classes of Columbia undergraduates to look like?” Coatsworth said. “Are our admissions strategies geared as well as they could possibly be to make sure that we get the class that we want, that’s diverse in ways that we are interested in, and as qualified as we want it to be?”
Columbia College used to have a similar committee, which consisted of professors, administrators, and students, but it has not met since the early 2000s. The biggest difference between that committee and the new one might be that the new one does not count students among its members.
Barry Weinberg, CC ’12, who pitched the idea for a new financial aid and admissions advisory committee to administrators last year, said that he was heartened to hear that Coatsworth was reviving the committee, but questioned why he was not including students.
“Students are the ones most directly impacted by admissions and financial aid,” Weinberg said. “It only makes sense for students to be represented on a committee that deals with matters of admissions and financial aid.”
Coatsworth, though, said that “it isn’t normal for a provostial committee to have student representatives,” although he added that the committee would discuss the issue once it starts to meet.
“I think it’s likely that we will not [add student members], because the main purpose of the committee is to have faculty advice for our long-term strategy,” he said. “But it’s certainly something that will be on our agenda.”
Weinberg noted that it would not be without precedent for a committee overseen by the provost to have student members. The committee currently searching for a permanent SEAS dean, which is being chaired by Coatsworth, has two student members, although Coatsworth characterized that as unusual.
CC and SEAS administrators familiar with the schools’ policies, including Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Jessica Marinaccio, will come to the committee’s meetings “often, if not always,” Coatsworth said. The two professional school faculty members will sit on the committee because so many Columbia undergraduates end up in professional schools after graduating.
“It’s a good idea to have a couple of faculty from professional schools there, so that they can help us think about what’s the relationship between our admission strategy and where our students want to end up,” Coatsworth said.
Marinaccio said in a recent interview that Coatsworth’s involvement with the committee is an indicator “that admissions and financial aid are University initiatives as well, so that’s something that should also be part of discussions by the broader administration and faculty.”
Margaret Mattes and Finn Vigeland contributed reporting.