Statistics department chair David Madigan has been appointed interim executive vice president of Arts and Sciences, University President Lee Bollinger announced on Friday.
Madigan will also serve as dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. He replaces Nicholas Dirks, who stepped down in November after eight years at Columbia to become chancellor of University of California, Berkeley.
Bollinger said in an email to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences that “a full time Interim EVP would be helpful in ensuring that the Arts and Sciences continues on its upward trajectory” during the “crucial budgetary and academic recruiting decisions” that are made during the spring semester. For the last four months, Provost John Coatsworth has taken on the duties of the EVP.
Madigan was not available for comment Friday.
Madigan’s appointment comes as a search committee chaired by international affairs professor Robert Jervis continues its hunt for a permanent EVP. The committee, which has been working since December, is composed of 10 professors, a dean, two alumni, a graduate student, and an undergraduate student.
Jervis said in an interview that the committee plans to deliver an unranked list of three candidates to Bollinger by late April. Bollinger will then choose a permanent EVP by the end of the semester.
“Our job is to make Bollinger’s choice difficult—difficult because there are three such good candidates,” Jervis said.
The committee has not yet begun interviewing, though Jervis said it will likely interview between 10 and 12 candidates before narrowing its list to three.
“We want someone who has intellectual high standards and who really knows the importance of teaching and research at the very highest levels,” Jervis said. “On the other hand, we need someone who’s also a good administrator.”
“The job is very complicated—the person has to move the paper or things won’t happen,” he added.
Search committee member Daphne Chen, CC ’14 and Columbia College Student Council vice president of finance, said she’s looking for a candidate who will make the EVP’s office more accessible to students.
“It’s one of the busiest jobs you can have on this campus,” Chen said. “In the past, it’s been hard for students to access it. It would be nice to know that that avenue is open to students, that if we really wanted to, it’s possible for us to schedule a meeting with the EVP.”
In an interview this week, Dirks, who served as EVP for more than eight years, said he was ready to move on.
“Any job has a kind of timeline to it—nine, 10 years is a good run,” he said. “I was beginning to think that some of the routines were getting a little old and it was probably a good thing for someone else to come in with a fresh vision.”
But the position “kept me on my toes over the past eight and a half years,” Dirks added. He cited scarcity of funds as one of the greatest challenges he faced in his position.
“There’s never seemed to be quite enough money to do everything you want to do,” he said. “It’s difficult to figure out among all the competing demands how best to invest in faculty and programs and of, course, students.”
Dirks said the new EVP will have to be “able to think about the broad picture of the University, not just the departments where one has lived and worked.” He said his successor would likely focus on Columbia’s nascent Manhattanville expansion and the Mind Brain Behavior Institute that will open there in 2016.