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A tieless, relaxed University President Lee Bollinger pushed graduate students to think globally at Tuesday night's fireside chat. "We are in a much different, more interconnected world than ever before," Bollinger said, pointing to the University's expanding network of global centers as a way of taking advantage of that world. At the new global centers, faculty and students will be "working on real projects with local people at local institutions" with the flexibility to operate in economies that wouldn't be able to support full branch campuses, he said. Mickey MacDonald, a first-year physics Ph.D candidate at GSAS, brought up the concern that an increased focus on globalization will result in less attention to educational issues and opportunities at home, calling on the University's "responsibility to teach homegrown students." Bollinger responded that the University is still very involved in local education, citing University support for a new public school to be established in Manhattanville. But he explained that the University has "the responsibility to think as a U.S. institution" and also have a global presence, striking a balance between the two. "We need to get out there and learn," Bollinger said. A student from the Journalism School brought up conflict of interest policies for faculty, asking about Bollinger's thoughts on the role of the University's business and economics departments in addressing the economic crisis. Bollinger responded by acknowledging that some departments, such as economics, do not have a fully detailed policy about what faculty members must disclose to the University regarding outside interests and activities. "The question is, is that a good state of affairs? And my answer is no, not a good state of affairs," Bollinger said, adding that a motion for all academic departments to develop and instate their own conflict of interest policies by this fall has already been put forward. "Disclosure, transparency, is clearly the right answer here," Bollinger said. Brandon Jackson, a junior in the College of Dental Medicine, asked Bollinger about transparency in the grading systems and distribution of resources between the dental and medical schools. "Everyone's striving to be at the top A lot of things, like transparency, are pushed by the wayside," Jackson said afterward. Bollinger asked the students for suggestions for how the administration can help with their concerns, while noting the delicate balance between which decisions involve the community as a whole and which are resolved at the administrative level. He cited the issue of allowing ROTC to return to campus as an example of when issues should be resolved publicly. "I really pushed that into the community," Bollinger said. Of diversity, Bollinger said it's something the University has to just keep working at. "We're still not where we want to be," Bollinger said, thought he spoke of the work of the many faculty members working to address diversity issues on campus. Bollinger also responded to the concern of the lack of interdisciplinary interaction among graduate students. "Academic life tends to be quite isolated I think it's the function of the University to counteract these things," Bollinger said. MacDonald, for one, was satisfied with Bollinger's responses of his concerns. "For the most part, he answered mine, although I'd love to talk to him for an hour," he said. emily.neil@columbiaspectator.com

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