Dean Moody-Adams controversially resigned last semester, leaving a vacancy that former chemistry department chair James Valentini temporarily filled. Until a couple weeks ago, there was absolutely no news about who the permanent replacement would be. Finally, a search committee that would include two students was announced—with mere weeks left in the semester.
We echo the sentiments in a recent op-ed from four outgoing student leaders ("Add elected student representatives to search for dean," April 4). The op-ed called for students in elected positions to serve on the committee, as they alone can claim to represent the students of Columbia College. While we were happy to see students on the committee, we were far from satisfied with the specific appointments because of their connection to the administration. Both are members of the Undergraduate Recruitment Committee, an organization that glorifies Columbia and sells it to prospective students. Furthermore, student members of the URC are appointed by and are under the oversight of the administration, giving us more reason to be skeptical.
To its credit, the administration—and specifically Dean of Student Affairs Kevin Shollenberger—listened and responded, and announced last week that CCSC president-elect Karishma Habbu would also serve on the committee. We are glad that the administration is proving that it actually listens to students, but there is a great deal of work still to be done to ensure an optimal selection process. First, we expect Habbu, in her first real role as CCSC president, to respect student interests and truly speak on behalf of Columbia College students. High standards should be set for her. She should outline her plans for gathering student feedback and conveying it to the committee. She should also report the committee's progress at CCSC meetings to the student body. Given that CCSC presented her with a list of recommendations of what it would like to see in a new dean, it is now Habbu's responsibility to respect them.
Second, more elected student leaders should serve on the committee, as such responsibilities should have been assigned to them to begin with. As of now, the only people voicing concerns are outgoing student leaders—where are the incoming ones? We feel that a newly elected student leader cannot stand up to the task of representing the entire student body alone, and we hope to see more appointments. The most logical are the three University Senators for Columbia College.
Furthermore, we hope to see more transparency in the process. We do not expect the committee to be open to the public or the press, but we hope to be notified of the criteria that are being used to evaluate a new dean. Even if more students are not appointed to the committee, which may be likely as the semester is ending soon, students can still have an impact. We strongly urge our readers to send nominations for the next dean to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 15. Dean Moody-Adams' resignation was marked with a lack of transparency and student participation. We hope that will change as the University—and Columbia College students—find her replacement.
Andrea Garcia-Vargas recused herself from the writing of this editorial because of personal connections to the two students added to the dean search committee.