Edited by Catie Edmondson, Caroline Chiu, Ben Libman, Youjin Jenny Jang, and Rebecca Ausseil
Graphics by Anna Alonso, Alex Andrejev, Donna Askari, Isabelle Lee, Jessie Liu, Helen Lu, Wendi Lu, and Avery Ponce
Photos by David Brann, William Jeffries, Finn Mundinger, Gloria Tso, and Ethan Wu
Lead Photo Illustration by Jenna Beers
May 5, 2016, 12:00 PM
I: Acknowledging Trade-offs
Columbia's marketing won me over. I came to Columbia because I did not want to choose between the close interaction with faculty of liberal arts colleges and the world-class scholars of top research universities. Columbia College promised it all—not just some of the best scholarship in the world, but also the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with faculty right away through the Core Curriculum.
But the reality of my experience was quite different.
In eight semesters of the signature Core classes, I was taught by a tenure-track faculty member just once. As an American history major, a significant number of my classes were taught by adjunct and visiting professors. Columbia was slow to hire tenure-track replacements for the legends I came to Columbia to study under.
At first I wondered if this was merely bad luck, but soon realized many of my peers had similar experiences. As I became fascinated with finding out whether this was typical at Columbia, I spoke with many faculty members who shared my frustrations. I discovered that my experience was part of a much larger conversation—one about the priorities of the University and how it balanced spending on the experience of its current students and faculty and long-term capital investment.
In many ways, this era can be defined by an institution contending with a great tension—a tension between a president determined to set Columbia among the handful of the world’s top universities and an institution severely lacking in both the financial resources and the space to be one.
I was surprised to learn—as I imagine many students and alumni would be—that the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the budgetary unit that includes Columbia College and the School of General Studies, is in a continuous state of financial insecurity, making necessary resources hard to come by.
This may seem odd to some given that the University recently completed a then-Ivy League record $6.1 billion capital campaign and is well on its way to opening a new multibillion-dollar campus in Manhattanville that will dramatically increase Columbia's space and capacity to conduct research. But while these projects have undoubtedly enhanced Columbia's reputation and standing, they have also contributed to a strain on the Arts and Sciences budget, causing a decline in the quality of the experience of current students and faculty.
The era of Columbia's 19th president Lee Bollinger is quickly becoming the most significant in Columbia's history, if it has not already. In many ways, this era can be defined by an institution contending with a great tension—a tension between a president determined to set Columbia among the handful of the world's top universities and an institution severely lacking in both the financial resources and the space to be one.
In a March interview, Bollinger says that he knew even before his inauguration that securing the capital and space necessary for Columbia's advancement would be a critical first step of his presidency. And over the first decade of his term as president, Bollinger completed plans to add millions of square feet of space with the Manhattanville campus and led a capital campaign that raised a then-Ivy League record $6.1 billion.
By the time Bollinger steps down as president, five new buildings, including a new 450,000-square-foot home for the Business School, will have opened in Manhattanville. The expansion into the new 17-acre campus brings the possibility of Arts and Sciences gaining much-needed space on Morningside as certain professional schools move north, and provides space for new interdisciplinary initiatives like the Jerome L. Greene Science Center, which will open next fall. According to Manhattanville's campus plan, there is space for seven additional new buildings beyond the five that are already planned for completion in the next six years.
No one can dispute that Columbia has advanced tremendously under Bollinger, or that the University's reputation and standing are much enhanced since the start of his tenure. Bollinger has thus earned the respect and admiration of communities around the University, including the University's board of trustees, who recently rewarded Bollinger with a second contract extension that will guarantee his term as president lasts at least two decades.
"We believe Lee's compelling intellectual vision and his record of fiscal management and fundraising success have made Columbia the most dynamic place in higher education," Trustee Chair Jonathan Schiller said in a press release announcing the extension. "We want to continue without pause this extraordinary forward momentum in the years ahead."
There is one core constituency, however, that met the news of Bollinger's term extension with less enthusiasm: the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Widely acknowledged to be the core of the University, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences comprises the faculty in the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences that are responsible for teaching the students of Columbia College, the School of General Studies, the School of the Arts, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Professional Studies.
On the whole, these faculty have never become enamored of Bollinger in the way that so many others across the University have since he became president in 2002. Interviews with nearly three dozen faculty members, as well as reviews of minutes taken at faculty meetings during Bollinger's term, reveal a deep-seeded resentment of Bollinger over what many feel is a significant lack support for Arts and Sciences. And indeed there is ample evidence that both research and instruction in Arts and Sciences suffers from a continual state of budget austerity.
Core to this resentment is a "common cost tax" levied on each of the schools to cover the costs of the University's central administration. This tax, which cost Arts and Sciences $123 million (15 percent of an $823 million budget) this year, now increases at a rate of 6.25 percent each year. The growth of these charges has previously been widely speculated by faculty to be driven by costs related to the construction of the new Manhattanville campus.
In a statement from Executive Vice President for Finance and Information Technology Anne Sullivan, the University confirmed that Manhattanville-related costs in fiscal year 2017 was the driver of about half of the increase in this year's common cost tax. This information—the most detail ever released regarding Arts and Sciences' financial contribution to the new campus—is likely to further enrage faculty. These resources, they argue, should be invested in research and instructional needs before being allocated to a campus that few, if any, Arts Sciences faculty or undergraduate students will directly benefit from.
Outspoken members of Arts and Sciences have often reproached Bollinger for prioritizing "flashy" initiatives like the new campus at Manhattanville and the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute and neglecting the needs of the core faculty of the University. Before providing support for basic necessities like hiring faculty and administrative staff or much-needed maintenance to buildings on the Morningside Heights campus, these faculty argue, Bollinger has launched high-profile projects that have overextended the University's finances.
Put simply, they argue that Arts and Sciences has not been a priority to Bollinger.
According to these faculty, this has resulted in Arts and Sciences being plagued by a series of budgetary constraints, which have stunted faculty growth and contributed to a record-low participation of tenure-track faculty in the Core.
Bollinger, however, rejects the notion that the core needs of Arts and Sciences have been ignored. "Not at all. In many ways it's been the highest priority," he explains. "In order for the University to achieve its potential and to be truly one of the greatest—if not the greatest—university in the planet, which I think is a realistic aspiration for Columbia … what we think of as Arts and Sciences has to be right there at the forefront. I've known that, I've believed, and that has meant a variety of [initiatives]."
I asked Bollinger to help me understand how the faculty could feel so strongly about Arts and Sciences not being a priority, given his assertion that it has been in many ways the "highest priority."
"Every part of the University feels that they are underfunded. ... Every single [school] feels like they're up against a huge problem of funding … as against the competition," he says. "It's just a fact about Columbia that we are dealing with an institutional wealth base that is significantly different."
That wealth disparity is at the core of the problem.
Despite impressive growth in institutional wealth, Columbia remains, as it has ever been, trying to pursue excellence at the level of the world's top academic institutions with an endowment less than half the size of that of universities such as Yale, Stanford, and Princeton, and nearly four times smaller than Harvard's. In some areas, Columbia has even tried to be ahead of them—as was the case with the $80 million the University spent on faculty diversity nearly a full decade before our peers recently followed suit.
Columbia has never before been as much a part of the conversation of the best universities in the world as it is today, and that is no doubt a direct result of the many efforts—like the diversity initiative—that Bollinger has spearheaded.
The new Manhattanville campus carries the potential for Columbia to tackle areas of new knowledge at the highest of levels. The crown jewel of the first phase of the Manhattanville construction, the Jerome L. Greene Science Center, is a 450,000-square-foot state-of-the-art research juggernaut that, beginning in the fall, will house the Mind Brain Behavior Institute.
Led by nobel laureates professor Eric Kandel and professor Richard Axel as well as professor Thomas Jessell, "Mind Brain Behavior will make us the best place in the world for the study of the brain and mind … the value to the University and all faculty of having something of stellar accomplishment like that is I think is just enormous," Bollinger says.
Columbia as an institution is so often proud to boast that it is able to overperform relative to its institutional wealth, but avoids acknowledging the real, tangible consequences of stretching its financial resources thin to chase new heights. There are, in fact, consequences of Columbia's rapid advancement that have gone undiscussed, and they are borne by the students and faculty of Arts and Sciences.
There is a strong case to be made that the expansion into the new campus with the opportunities it presents was an absolute necessity. But this does not change the fact that the current number of faculty is not sufficient to cover all of Columbia's course offerings. It seems that the current percentage of Literature Humanities and Contemporary Civilization sections taught by faculty—barely over 25 percent, versus nearly 50 percent in the early 1990s—is a nearly fraudulent corruption of the most sacred tradition of the University.
Added to this are the consequences of the revenue-generating measures conducted by Arts and Sciences in order to maintain current levels of spending. Columbia currently projects undergraduate tuition (which does not represent the full cost of attendance and is already the highest in the nation) to reach $60,000 by 2020, a 50 percent increase over the previous decade. Moreover, the leadership of Arts and Sciences has prevented larger deficits from forming by increasing the number of so-called 'master's-only' students—students who pursue a master's degree without the option of later entering a Ph.D program—and students in the School of Professional Studies, which adds even more pressure to an already insufficient amount of classroom space and support staff.
It is also clear that the budget constraints of Arts and Sciences have taken a toll on the quality of Columbia's departments. "We have a handful of departments that are clear top-five departments … maybe around half a dozen such departments. We have way too many departments in the high teens, in the 15-20 range," Executive Vice President and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences David Madigan explains.
Faculty across departments cite the lack of opportunity for growth in faculty as hindering the quality of education and research, as departments are largely unable to recruit new generations of faculty pursuing cutting-edge fields in their disciplines. To his credit, when asked if the size of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences was large enough, Bollinger agrees that "it definitely needs to expand."
These issues are not new, and have been raised to Bollinger before. After a tense faculty meeting with Bollinger in May 2014, faculty leaders sent a follow-up letter saying their "obligations cannot be fulfilled given present levels of support," citing many of the grievances discussed above. In response, Bollinger announced the first fundraising campaign dedicated to Arts and Sciences that July. But after this effort failed to raise a significant amount of money, faculty fear an emerging pattern of Bollinger appeasing their concerns with undelivered promises of future support.
Faculty have also raised concerns that the percentage of funds raised through the University's last two capital campaigns directed to Arts and Sciences has been too small. In former University President George Rupp's Campaign for Columbia, Arts and Sciences raised 21 percent of a $2.8 billion campaign, and Bollinger's first capital campaign yielded about $1.3 billion for Arts and Sciences—about 21 percent of the $6.1 billion campaign.
Bollinger said in an interview with Spectator that he hopes to raise an additional $1.1 billion on top of the $400 million that will be raised through Columbia College’s Core to Commencement campaign, totaling $1.5 billion for Arts and Sciences.
The Policy and Planning Committee, a group of tenured faculty elected to represent Arts and Sciences, sent a letter to the entire faculty body ahead of Bollinger's annual meeting with the full Faculty of Arts and Sciences, taking place this Friday. In it, they make their frustrations clear. "Two years ago we were assured more support, both for us and our students," it reads. "Two years later, Arts and Sciences continues to be in a state of budget austerity, the faculty raise pool has fallen, more Morningside buildings are in disrepair, and there have been no significant gains from fundraising efforts in spite of year-long planning exercises in which many of us have participated."
Next fall, Columbia will announce the launch of a much-anticipated second Bollinger-era capital campaign, which will continue the work of advancing Columbia's institutional wealth. Bollinger said in an interview with Spectator that he hopes to raise an additional $1.1 billion on top of the $400 million that will be raised through Columbia College's Core to Commencement campaign, totaling $1.5 billion for Arts and Sciences.
This goal will no doubt be a topic of serious conversation on Friday at the faculty meeting with Bollinger. It will be interesting to see how the faculty reacts to this goal—if they think the amount is sufficient to ameliorate their concerns, or if they are skeptical that the money will be raised.
This institution has the limitless potential to be, as Columbia College Dean James Valentini often says, "the greatest college in the greatest university in the greatest city in the world." But the current financial state of Arts and Sciences creates an experience for the faculty and students that does not live up to its potential and promise.
II: The need to expand
At the beginning of his tenure as president, Bollinger says, he knew immediately that Columbia had "some very big basic issues to confront." He traces those issues back to the infamous protests in the 1960s.
During that decade, protests erupted on campus, most notably in the spring of 1968, when the New York Police Department was called in to arrest over 700 protesters occupying Hamilton Hall.
"Whatever you think about the issues specifically at that time, the way it played out had a more harmful effect on the institution than at any other university in the country," Bollinger says. "Columbia was really, really hurt by what happened in that period of time."
The University's rough patch continued into the 1980s, when Columbia had virtually no endowment, Bollinger says, and was exacerbated by an alumni constituency that lacked enthusiasm in giving back to its alma mater.
"...schools are always coming up with new ideas of what they want to work on,” Bollinger says. “It’s the nature of the people that you have and the nature of the expansion of knowledge. And if you don't have the space available, you will just cut off that imagination.”
"It was viewed as a tough place. There are a lot of people who graduated in that period of time who did not feel a connection to the institution," he says. "So you had both the problem of an endowment that had been squandered and you had the problem of a lack of commitment to the institution that resulted in less giving. So I knew that had to be changed."
At the same time, during the 1980s and 1990s, other universities were rapidly expanding their campuses and creating millions of square feet for research labs, dormitories, and classrooms. Columbia, unable to grow, could only passively look on.
"It really goes to the core of how the University thinks about itself, because faculty, departments, and schools are always coming up with new ideas of what they want to work on," Bollinger says. "It's the nature of the people that you have and the nature of the expansion of knowledge. And if you don't have the space available, you will just cut off that imagination."
When he entered his presidency as Columbia lagged behind its peers, Bollinger faced two challenges standing in the way of advancing the University: limited space and resources.
With the intent of revitalizing Columbia, he set his sights on Manhattanville to both solve the space problem and capture the imaginations of donors and alumni, securing 17 acres of land to construct an entirely new campus.
Even today, Bollinger says, despite the strides the University has made, the differential in the amount of wealth Columbia has compared to peer institutions is "enormous."
But Bollinger argues that as a result of initiatives like Manhattanville, Columbia's standing among its peers has increased, and its donor base has become reenergized.
"One of the things that's very hard to appreciate, and hard to prove, is that when you're doing exciting things—when you're expanding, when people can see that the place is getting better and better—they give more money," he says. "My own view is, that is directly related to the fact that the University is seen as doing really interesting, exciting things. And everybody has benefited."
III: What Manhattanville costs
The claim that everyone at the University will benefit from Manhattanville, however, is one that many Arts and Sciences faculty have questioned.
In response to this question, University Provost John Coatsworth explains, "In order to run an institution like this, you have to worry about excellence in the present and excellence in the future, and it's always a struggle to balance the two."
Coatsworth believes that going through with Manhattanville was the right decision. "We could have decided not to build Manhattanville … some of the money raised for Manhattanville would have come to us anyway … it would have enabled us to spend money on current faculty, current facilities, and maintain a sense of excellence now. But 10 or 20 years from now we would not have a campus that is crucial to maintaining excellence in the future," he explains.
As the University invests substantial funds to secure its future, current students—who are paying the nation's highest tuition—as well as parents and alumni are largely unaware of the budgetary decisions the University makes and their implications on the quality of research and instruction at today's Columbia.
Columbia follows a budget model in which revenues, like tuition, flow directly to the individual schools, not the central administration. Each school must cover all of its own expenses through the revenues it generates. The central administration then annually taxes each of the schools in order to fund University-wide expenses—such as Public Safety, Facilities, Manhattanville construction, and the Office of the Registrar—known as common costs.
The tax levied by the central administration has increased at a rate of 6.25 percent for the past two years, and is currently projected to continue to rise at that rate for the next five years, though Coatsworth says his sense is that it may come to be lower.
This rate of increase means that Arts and Sciences must cover an additional $7 to $10 million cost each year before allocating funds for internal spending on items like faculty, staff, or building maintenance. This, however, is just one of three cost centers that rapidly increases each year.
Arts and Sciences must also contend with sharp increases in the annual cost of undergraduate financial aid, which, following Columbia's move to meet the full demonstrated need of undergraduates in Columbia College, has increased from less than $50 million to $115 million in the past decade.
Funds allocated to the faculty salary pool, which covers current salaries, annual raises, new faculty recruitment, and retention packages, represent another annual increase. That increase generally rises at a rate of four to five percent each year, according to Madigan.
Of the three growing cost centers, payments to the central administration are poised to become Arts and Sciences' biggest expense in the coming years, overcoming spending on undergraduate financial aid and faculty. This year, payments from Arts and Sciences to the central administration totaled $167 million, though $61 million of support for efforts like the diversity initiative flowed back to Arts and Sciences.
"Often the rhetoric of the Columbia University administration towards Arts and Sciences is, 'you're not managing your money well. You're spending too much, you need to learn to live within your budget,'" Jack Snyder, the Rose and Renée Belfer professor of international relations and the former chair of the Policy and Planning Committee, says. "At the same time as they tell us this, they have increased the tax that the central administration makes all of its units pay."
According to Coatsworth, common costs are used to fund the basics of a lean central administration, and also go towards a series of University-wide academic initiatives that benefit Arts and Sciences.
"The main sources of central administration revenue are pretty meager, and we face increasing costs, so we increase the rate of common cost basically to cover costs," Coatsworth says.
But for years, Arts and Sciences faculty have expressed resentment about the lack of transparency surrounding the increase in the tax and voiced suspicion that the need to increase the common cost tax each year is really driven by a need to cover normal annual increases in operating costs.
"So far, Arts and Sciences has not benefitted very much at all from the planned projects at Manhattanville, yet we are taxed,” Snyder says. “We’re being taxed in ways that are not commensurate to either our voice in the process, or to the benefits that we get in return for our taxes.”
"It's very hard to break that black box of Low—what's in it, what's driving it," Robert Jervis, the Adlai E. Stevenson professor of international affairs, says of the tax. "Well, I mean, Manhattanville is driving it."
Anne Sullivan, executive vice president for finance and information technology, confirms in a statement sent to Spectator that the new campus is responsible for "about half" of the increase in the common cost tax, marking the first time the University has publicly released that information. Sullivan added that the central administration made efforts this year to mitigate the impacts of the rise in common costs, including capping increases in administrative costs.
To faculty in Arts and Sciences, the admission that the rising common costs have been significantly driven by Manhattanville substantiates in fact what they have long feared: Arts and Sciences is being strained to pay for a new campus that it has little stake in.
"Some are benefitting from Manhattanville, mostly professional schools. They benefit, so it makes sense that they pay. So far, Arts and Sciences has not benefitted very much at all from the planned projects at Manhattanville, yet we are taxed," Snyder says. "We're being taxed in ways that are not commensurate to either our voice in the process, or to the benefits that we get in return for our taxes."
Though the Lenfest Center for the Arts will benefit the School of the Arts, Arts and Sciences departments, faculty, and undergraduate students have little involvement in any other part of the expansion. This most notably includes its centerpiece, the Mind Brain Behavior Institute, which was sold as an interdisciplinary hub for research and innovation that would bring in scholars from across the University.
In execution, however, faculty from the Columbia University Medical Center are expected to comprise 90 percent of the institute, and scholars of the brain in art history, economics, and music, among other departments, have been shut out from access to the funding and space of the Mind Brain Behavior Institute.
"That's not happened at all and I do fault the administration—that was a failure of leadership from the top," Jervis says of the inclusion of Arts and Sciences in the Institute.
Bollinger acknowledges that opportunities for collaboration have not yet been fully realized.
"There are faculty in psychology, there are faculty in economics, all of whom are benefiting intellectually from this venture, and they'll benefit more as it starts to happen," he says. "I think a lot of people feel like there's not enough yet, and my own personal feeling is that there will be a lot more once it's up and running."
Interviews with faculty across departments in Arts and Sciences show little to no involvement in the Mind Brain Behavior Institute, including in economics, a department which Bollinger specifically mentioned.
"I'm afraid that as of now, there are no plans for the economics department to be involved with MBBI," says John Bates Clark professor of political economy Michael Woodford, whose fields of study include behavioral and experimental economics.
Yet there is certainly no lack of Arts and Sciences scholars who study the brain and would benefit tremendously from participation in the institute.
David Freedberg, the Pierre Matisse professor of the history of art and director of the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America, is perhaps the perfect humanities candidate to take advantage of the Mind Brain Behavior Institute: He is known internationally for his work bridging the gap between humanities and neuroscience by studying the brain's response to images and art.
Apart from a handful of conversations with Kandel and Axel, though, Freedberg has had no interaction with the Mind Brain Behavior Institute and has access to neither additional space nor resources from it.
When asked how his research has been enhanced by the Mind Brain Behavior Institute, he responds that he "wishes it had."
Susan Boynton, music department chair, says that although several faculty from her department are in need of support to pursue their research on cognition and music, they have been "cut off" from the institute's resources.
"I [can name] off the top of my head four or five people who are all deeply involved in this field, and I don't think that there's any contact with them," Boynton says. "It's a huge missed opportunity because I think that the humanities has a tremendous amount to offer scholars of the brain."
One exception, though, is Sarah Woolley, chair of the psychology department, who says students and faculty of the psychology department will have access to the institute.
Currently, the psychology department can't accommodate all of the students that want research experience, Woolley says. She explains, though, that soon, hundreds of undergraduate students studying psychology will be able to work in labs at the institute for their independent research classes.
"You really learn what it means to be a scientist by working in a lab. There are all these wonderful labs … but it's a very small percentage of students that do those labs," she says.
But now that researchers from the neuroscience department will be moving their labs from the medical center to Manhattanville, they will become more accessible for undergraduates to do research with faculty.
The institute will also house technology, currently located at the medical center, that Woolley estimates roughly half the faculty in the psychology department uses to collect brain imaging data. Rather than having to head uptown every time they need to collect data, Woolley says, they can simply walk to the Mind Brain Behavior Institute.
Many faculty continue to openly resent the Mind Brain Behavior Institute and argue that they've been forced to suffer through years of budget austerity to fund a new campus from which they are alienated. However, they do acknowledge—and in fact look forward to—one direct benefit Arts and Sciences will receive because of Manhattanville: space.
The professional schools' move to the new campus will free up hundreds of thousands of additional square feet of space on the Morningside campus. Bollinger has promised Uris Hall, the current home of the Business School, to Arts and Sciences, and it is expected that Arts and Sciences will also receive additional space in International Affairs Building if—and when—the School of International and Public Affairs moves to the new campus.
Madigan has described the allocation of Uris to Arts and Sciences as a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to seize one of the most valuable commodities in Morningside. "That's fantastic," he says. "That is really a marvelous opportunity for us to be better."
That opportunity, however, will be delayed until the Business School vacates Uris—a move that will likely not happen for at least another five years. Some have also expressed concerns that Uris will need to undergo significant and costly renovations, which, given the University's budget model, Arts and Sciences itself would need to finance.
That Arts and Sciences could afford such renovations seems unlikely—for years, they have struggled to renovate the buildings they currently occupy with their meager budget.
"The most acute problems, arguably, are in the sciences. So buildings like Pupin, Fairchild, Havemeyer, are old buildings in which we're trying to do state-of-the-art modern science and they just desperately need to be modernized," Madigan says. "It's not a small lift, it's a big issue."
This video was made in October. Prentis has since received due administrative attention.
Such renovations are key to offering competitive science programs and support research, but have been rendered financially unfeasible by Arts and Sciences' budget. A 2011 self-accreditation study found that Columbia has lagged behind its peers in this respect.
"Existing buildings on the Morningside campus still require extensive costly renovations to make them scientifically current and additional facilities will be needed for further expansion," the study says. "Columbia is well behind many of its peers in creating shared facilities to provide its scientists with these necessary services."
But perhaps the most damaging result for undergraduates of Arts and Sciences's unstable budget has been its effect on faculty size. Tied to structural and long-lasting deficit, the organization has reached a level of stasis—unable to afford expanding the size of the faculty, hiring more staff to unburden existing staff, exploring new areas of research, or offering more courses taught by faculty.
Although the faculty has grown 14 percent since the 2003-2004 school year, that growth has been mostly concentrated in a handful of departments, with nearly one third of departments left at the same size, or even smaller.
The statistics department, for example, accounts for 12 percent of the total growth in Arts and Sciences, and that growth has been largely to accommodate rising numbers of Master's students.
Following the financial crisis in 2008, faculty continuously repeated the same grievances: Too much uncertainty surrounded whether they would be able to hire new lines, and whether, if approved, the search would take too long to commence.
"Certain departments like my own have heroically managed to stay afloat and have some of the very best people out there,” Boynton says. “But every day you hear people leave because Columbia has not really delivered on its promise for a faculty member."
"It was common for a few years that departments were asked to wait a year before searching," Snyder told Spectator last spring. "So, if someone leaves, and you wait a year before searching, and you wait another year until a new person comes, you're missing a couple of years of actual instruction there."
Both the history and physics departments infamously struggled to receive authorization to begin searches to replace prominent faculty they had lost. Between 2011 and 2012, two Nobel laureates from the physics department retired from Columbia. The search for their replacements were each delayed at least a year. The history department, meanwhile, was unable to secure approval for a 'cluster hire' strategy to quickly replenish the field in preparation for the retirements of professors Eric Foner, Alan Brinkley, Alice Kessler-Harris, and Kenneth Jackson.
In response to these concerns, Arts and Sciences implemented the Timely Replacement Policy last spring to assuage concerns that the size of the faculty would shrink because of these delays. But what began as a concession to fix uncertainty had another consequence: It set a ceiling in addition to a floor on faculty hires.
"The Timely Replacement Policy in a sense fixes our number—our target number—for the number of faculty," Coatsworth says.
The result of that stagnation has already been acutely felt by faculty, as they report increased workloads, less time to teach, and losing prominent colleagues to peer institutions.
"Certain departments like my own have heroically managed to stay afloat and have some of the very best people out there," Boynton says. "But every day you hear people leave because Columbia has not really delivered on its promise for a faculty member."
Those burdens on faculty translate to reduced course offerings for students. Snyder says that Arts and Sciences faculty have found themselves forced to cap their lecture courses—something they have not had to do in the past.
Constrained by the size of its faculty, faculty members say that the Arts and Sciences has turned to rely more and more on adjunct professors and graduate students to cover basic teaching requirements—a move that is, in the eyes of many faculty, to the detriment of undergraduate students.
"In the social sciences and humanities, we can't cover a lot of teaching—we have to do with adjuncts. While the adjuncts are good, it's not the same for students," Jervis says. "The way a lot of institutions have covered, is they've raised a lot more chairs. We're way behind and always have been."
Graduate students have also had to begin teaching earlier to help ensure that certain courses are offered.
“There are many, many things we're not doing that we really ought to be,” Madigan says. “We're fairly badly understaffed.”
"It does affect the education we can give," Jervis says. "That's really not good … It isn't only competing, it's what this means for the education we provide the students, and the research opportunities we provide students."
But it has only become more expensive to hire faculty, according to Madigan and Coatsworth, and with Arts and Sciences' cash-strapped budget, competing with Columbia's peer institutions for the best and brightest has become increasingly difficult. And so, without the funds to bring in fresh blood and ideas, faculty posit, Arts and Sciences has entered a stasis in both research and instruction—though Bollinger has argued that it's the exciting initiatives like the Mind Brain Behavior Institute that attract faculty and donors.
"I think there is a feeling, in order to serve the students and be better placed in our fields and explore new areas, there does have to be some limited expansion, carefully paced, scheduled," Jervis explains. "And I don't think the budget at this point will support that."
The budget also cannot support hiring additional administrative staff, even though the current numbers are "razor thin," according to Madigan.
"There are many, many things we're not doing that we really ought to be," he says."We're fairly badly understaffed."
As a result, according to Boynton, faculty members end up bearing the burden.
"They're doing a lot of work that's not appropriate for faculty to be doing because we don't have staff," she says. "Another major aspect of the strangulation of Arts and Sciences, currently, is that every department is understaffed in terms of administrative staff."
That sentiment—that there are many things they should be doing but can't as a result of a strained budget—has demoralized the Arts and Sciences faculty.
When asked where he would allocate additional funds, Madigan fires off a list: "Infrastructure, faculty hiring. Infrastructure in terms of our buildings—the need to refresh and renovate our buildings."
Madigan says he worries about the implications of maintaining a replacement level-only hiring policy in the long term."Just as a general principle, if any one department or area is stagnant, there's no fresh blood coming in, no fresh ideas or fresh energies coming in. It's very difficult to maintain forward momentum … more often than not, it's a recipe for sliding backwards," Madigan adds.
Bollinger told Spectator that the size of the faculty simply must and would expand. In order for there to be any hope that this will happen, Bollinger must be successful in raising the $1.5 billion for Arts and Sciences he has set as a target goal, as must Columbia College's capital campaign, Core to Commencement.
A key priority of Core to Commencement is raising endowed faculty chairs, and it has so far successfully raised 13 chairs. But even if the two campaigns are able to reach their goals, it will still likely be insufficient to address the organization's continual structural budget deficits.
"The budget projection is always, 'this year, the next year, and the following year are for idiosyncratic reasons going to be really tight. But don't worry, the year after that, we're going to have healthy revenue streams,'" Snyder says. "Then you get to three years out, when things were supposed to improve, for some reason, you're still in the trough of despair."
IV: Record-high tuition, number of students save budget from disaster
Though Arts and Sciences continues to find itself with a depleted budget, its current financial state would actually be far worse if not for a series of strategic moves engineered to keep it afloat.
For years, revenue generated by tuition, research grants, and the endowment alone have not been enough to accommodate the costs of undergraduate financial aid, graduate stipends, salaries of faculty and administrators, and of course, the rising common costs.
In order to claw its way out of the red, Arts and Sciences developed a two-pronged approach to generate revenue in an attempt to cover the organization's basic needs: increasing undergraduate tuition by 50 percent over the last decade, and rapidly expanding enrollment in master's-only programs and the School of Professional Studies.
It is a strategy that, barring any unforeseen sudden changes to their budget, Arts and Sciences will be compelled to continue, despite the burdens the measures pose on undergraduates and faculty. For the Arts and Sciences, the bottom line is clear: In order to survive, it simply cannot pass up potential streams of revenue.
While it primarily generates revenue through tuition, the impact of that stream is under pressure because the school provides students with significant amounts of aid. Financial aid at Columbia College is met on a need-blind, full-need basis, and Arts and Sciences awards graduate students annual stipends, which totaled a $30 million expenditure this year.
While roughly half of students attending Columbia College receive full-need financial aid, the other half receives no financial aid at all—a number that has sharply decreased in the last few decades. In an article published last year entitled "Our Universities: The Outrageous Reality," professor Andrew Delbanco writes that, in 1987, approximately 60 percent of all students received some sort of financial aid from the College. He notes that the downward trend didn't "necessarily mean that the percentage of low-income students has dropped at the same pace," but remarks that the statistic signified a "striking increase" in the percentage of students from families capable of paying full tuition.
"I think there's a middle band of middle-class America for whom it's problematic—it's causing real problems," Madigan says.
As tuition continues to rise, more and more students will need financial aid in order to attend Columbia. And because the University intends to maintain its need-blind, full-need policy, Arts and Sciences will have to cover those costs to ensure that no further burdens are placed upon low-income students.
For students whose families are in the middle bracket—those who fall just above Columbia College's definition of need—the ramifications of tuition increases are particularly severe. Families may find themselves struggling to make ends meet to accommodate the increases or even priced out of being able to afford a Columbia education.
"I think there is some stress being caused by the tuition. The financial aid that we offer, though it's not perfect, largely ameliorates the problem for folks below a certain income level," Madigan says. "I think it's not a problem for some people above some very high income level, I think there's a middle band of middle-class America for whom it's problematic—it's causing real problems."
Sebastian Espinosa, a first-year at Columbia College, is in that middle band: He applied for financial aid but was ultimately not awarded any. He believes his family could handle a "tiny bit of a shift" in tuition, but says that continuous increases on the scale that the University projects will tangibly impact the finances of families like his.
"Even with one kid, with parents who make very good money or above average, it's still an effect—it's still a huge effect," Espinoza said of the tuition increases. "I think for a lot of people it means that their parents are going to have to work a lot more, and they're going to have to start tightening their purse strings."
Columbia's financial aid has several shortcomings, which Bollinger himself is quick to acknowledge. The School of General Studies, in particular, has struggled to provide students with sufficient aid packages for years. In recent years, renewed attention has also come to increasing financial aid for international students to a full-need policy, in line with Bollinger's mission of having a global university, as well as reducing the summer contribution students on financial aid are expected to pay.
Coatsworth, who works with the University's chief financial officer and schools' deans to determine the price of tuition, says that he has seen no evidence to suggest that the 50 percent increase in tuition has adversely impacted Columbia College.
"In the years in which you cite that we've been increasing tuitions at very high rates to keep up with the costs of the University, we've actually become more diverse, both in terms of ethnic composition and in terms of economic background," Coatsworth says when asked if he was concerned that rates at which tuition are rising are unsustainable. "So if we could see a negative impact from this policy, we would react immediately, but we haven't."
Arts and Sciences has also become reliant on the proliferation of master's-only programs and expanded its enrollment and offerings at the School of Professional Studies to generate hundreds of millions dollars of new tuition revenue over the last decade.
In the past nine years, the enrollment of the School of Professional Studies has expanded by over 30 percent, with over 2500 students currently enrolled. It is also expected that the number of those programs that School of Professional Studies offers will increase. Arts and Sciences receives full tuition from these students—both master's-only students and School of Professional Studies students receive little to no financial aid from the University.
According to David Schiminovich, an astronomy professor and the current chair of the PPC, some have debated the role of the school as a way to bring in money to the organization. "There's a question of, 'should we be using the School of Professional Studies as a revenue stream?'" he said. "I think there are questions about balance anywhere in Arts and Sciences, so there's a legitimate question among the Arts and Sciences faculty, how large do we feel that student body should be able to grow?"
Another student body that has significantly grown in the past decade are master's-only students. Those programs have been recognized as a critical opportunity to generate revenue, but many have questioned their role within Arts and Sciences.
"M.A. programs have grown with little coherent thought, treated largely as cash cows; some are certainly good and intellectually useful, but others are not," a faculty member said in a 2007 Faculty of Arts and Sciences meeting.
At that meeting, Henry Pinkham, then dean of GSAS, acknowledged that he had heard "a lot of concern," about the programs. But he noted that they had generated $15 million that year alone, almost balancing the amount Arts and Sciences paid out for Ph.D. stipends.
Pinkham concluded that "right now, we cannot turn it down as an option."
Since then, the number of master's-only students admitted to the University has rapidly increased. Approximately 900 master's-only students are currently enrolled at Columbia—an increase of nearly 74 percent over the past decade, though Madigan says he expects steady-state enrollment in the program for the next five years.
The increase in enrollment has put a strain on a faculty already burdened with departmental and administrative duties, who now must also teach hundreds of master's-only students and direct their master's theses. In some cases, master's-only students take seats in advanced undergraduate classes. Some master's-only students must also consult with an Arts and Sciences faculty adviser on a regular basis. Undergraduates, by contrast, aren't assigned faculty advisers within Arts and Sciences, nor are they required to meet with them.
For Madigan, master's-only programs are not simply a driver of revenue, but speak to the mission of the University.
"Insofar as we increase the size of the master's-only programs and the number of programs, it is increasing the workload, but it's what we do," Madigan explains. "Why would one question the legitimacy of educating students at that level as against, say, undergraduates?"
But many faculty argue that Arts and Sciences simply would not offer master's-only programs—and certainly not in the numbers that are currently available to students—if it was not so strapped for cash.
V: Barely over 25 percent of Core Curriculum is taught by faculty
A critical consequence of the Arts and Sciences budget woes is a decreased number of humanities and social science tenure-track faculty available to teach Literature Humanities and Contemporary Civilization.
The flagship Core Curriculum—the set of general education courses required for all Columbia College students—is the defining academic experience of being a student at Columbia College. It was the most important factor in my decision to come to Columbia: I wanted to gain a strong foundation in the humanities through close interaction with Columbia's senior faculty.
Over the last several decades, the participation of tenure-track faculty in teaching these sections has eroded. To compensate, these Core classes are now taught by a record number of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.
Admissions officers are prolific in advertising this interaction with faculty, arguing that the access undergraduates have to faculty through the Core Curriculum sets Columbia ahead of its peers. Beyond having the special experience of exploring some of the most foundational texts of the western world with these scholars, the opportunity to interact so closely from the first semester allows Columbia College students to find mentors among the faculty.
The Core Curriculum carries benefits extending far beyond a specific classroom experience.
Each semester, Columbia offers 62 sections of both Literature Humanities and Contemporary Civilization and about 30 sections of both Music Humanities and Art Humanities. Over the last several decades, the participation of tenure-track faculty in teaching these sections has eroded. To compensate, these Core classes are now taught by a record number of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows.
When it comes to quality of instruction, there is a healthy debate regarding whether senior faculty are better instructors of the Core than graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. But there are additional consequences of the withering of participation by faculty in the Core that are not up for debate.
Many of the graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who now teach nearly 75 percent of the Core will leave the institution within a year or two. Tenured faculty are the permanent lifeblood of the institution, and their buy-in to the Core is the only way to ensure that a consistent experience remains a permanent fixture of Columbia College.
“That has meant an erosion of faculty participation and involvement in the Core over the last 30 years that I think has reached a kind of critical point,” says Montas.
Columbia College Dean Valentini also explains that interaction with tenure-track faculty teaching is integral to the Core experience. "The smaller the percentage of faculty who are teaching in Lit Hum and CC, the fewer opportunities there are for students to have that direct, small classroom interaction with faculty … and so we would make the possibility of interaction between tenured and tenure-track faculty and students as great as possible, so we like to make the sections taught by faculty as high as possible," he says.
The beginning of the decline in faculty participation in the Core can be traced back to 1991, when the faculty of Columbia College was integrated into the larger Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
"When that faculty was dissolved into a broader arts and sciences faculty, it left the undergraduate teaching of the college and the Core Curriculum without a dedicated faculty body that cares and looks over it," explains Roosevelt Montas, Columbia College's associate dean of academic affairs, who has overall responsibility for the administration of the Core Curriculum. "That has meant an erosion of faculty participation and involvement in the Core over the last 30 years that I think has reached a kind of critical point."
When the Columbia College faculty dissolved in the early 1990s, so too did the crucial requirement that faculty would teach the Core. As a result, today, there is the expectation that faculty in certain departments will teach in the Core, but no system in place to enforce them to do so.
Valentini stresses that beyond instruction in individual classrooms, faculty participation is critical because "faculty have to have intellectual ownership … and they have to guide it. There have to be enough faculty involved to achieve intellectual ownership and guidance of the course."
Montas adds that the true value of having senior faculty teach the Core is the "permanence and stability" they lend to the program.
“I want you to be taught by people who are leading scholars, who pursue scholarship as well as classroom instruction, because they serve as guides to you in your intellectual development in a way that goes beyond the simple interaction within the classroom," says Valentini.
"The University at the end of the day is governed by faculty and if the faculty don't own the Core Curriculum, the Core Curriculum will wither," he says.
For Valentini, part of what makes Columbia College a special experience for its students is the benefit of having top research scholars as instructors. "It's the simultaneous interaction of all those roles—integration of all those roles—that I think makes Columbia College what it is," he recognizes. "I want you to be taught by people who are leading scholars, who pursue scholarship as well as classroom instruction, because they serve as guides to you in your intellectual development in a way that goes beyond the simple interaction within the classroom."
So what explains the lack of faculty participation in the Core?
After speaking with numerous faculty about why more of their colleagues don't teach in the Core, there seems to be two possible explanations. Many faculty said it was a matter of faculty size—that given the current size of the humanities and social science departments, it is difficult for faculty to take time away from teaching in their fields. It is also clear, though, that the decline in the number of faculty teaching in the Core is a matter of culture, too. Columbia is now operated in a way that Columbia College and the Core Curriculum are structurally separate from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which means that Valentini has no role in deciding which courses faculty teach.
Similarly, the leadership of the faculty who are charged with tracking which courses faculty are teaching are not involved in the administration of the Core. It is also clear from speaking with professors in the humanities and social sciences that a substantial portion of the faculty has no interest in teaching in the Core.
Faculty in leadership positions in Arts and Sciences, particularly those in the humanities departments, says it has been difficult to staff the Core with tenure-track faculty, given the wide variety of teaching responsibilities the departments contend with. "Instead of trying to do two things at once we're trying to do three things at once: We're trying to offer a Core that requires students to take a lot of classes, offer majors that look like majors everywhere else—and those have to be taught every year or people can't fulfill their majors—and create space for professors to teach specialized, cutting edge courses that are connected to their research," explains Sharon Marcus, Arts and Sciences dean of humanities.
For Jervis, that mindset is indicative of a faculty unwilling to make hard choices.
"They always want to add but are never willing to drop anything … I think the faculty is not the most responsible," Jervis says. "There are new areas and to not be in them is a cost ... but the faculty should do a better job of saying, 'we're willing to no longer [cover certain areas] to do something else.'"
But music department Chair Susan Boynton believes the current size of the humanities faculty is simply too small to properly staff the Core Curriculum and departmental offerings.
"It's the case that having to offer the Core Curriculum and to offer ... majors and doctoral programs means that there's often an 'either-or' kind of choice. So many people have said in other departments, 'When I teach in the Core, it means that, say, Japanese art, doesn't get taught," she says. "It's absolutely clear that really the only way to staff the Core adequately is to hire more full-time faculty."
Marcus also stresses that faculty feel compelled to ensure that course offerings in their field are covered before volunteering to teach in the Core. "You're not going to get people to not take their department's needs into account … nor would you want to, because when it comes to taking electives, students probably like taking classes that have more of a focus and that comes from professors teaching courses related to their research interests," Marcus says.
In an interview in April, Valentini said a goal of Core to Commencement, Columbia College's capital campaign, is to help support departments that participate in the Core. Part of it is "to have money to support visiting professorships," he explains. "If a department has a lot of faculty participating in teaching in the Core, that means that some other courses that we also need taught might not be taught. Let's find resources to bring visiting faculty here who, in those circumstances, can then teach additional courses."
A Columbia College spokesperson told Spectator that the campaign has raised $3 million toward endowing visiting professor positions, which is likely to fund a visiting professor or two each semester depending on their seniority.
It is clear that the current size of the Arts and Sciences faculty and the need to cover both the Core and departmental offerings contribute to the decline in faculty participation in the Core. But equally important are the systemic cultural issues and organizational structures that exist between Columbia College and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Columbia uses a unique model of governance for the faculty and schools in Arts and Sciences. There is a strict structural separation between the faculty—who report to David Madigan, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences—and Columbia College and its curriculum, which are under the auspices of Valentini. Structurally speaking, the dean of the faculty does not have a role in, and therefore does not bear responsibility for, undergraduate curriculum and instruction.
As an example of this dynamic, even though Valentini reports to the executive vice president for Arts and Sciences according to the University's statutes, Madigan is not listed as a member of the leadership of Columbia College. However, department chairs, who are responsible for overseeing their department's faculty and course offerings, work with divisional deans who report to Madigan. Valentini therefore has no authority in directing how the department chairs distribute faculty between departmental offerings and the Core Curriculum.
Put differently, the faculty do not work for the person who is responsible for undergraduate instruction and curriculum, Dean Valentini. They are no longer responsible for Columbia College students in the same way that they were when the college had its own faculty. This leaves the faculty who teach Columbia College students structurally separate those students.
There are, however, organizational overlaps between Arts and Sciences and Columbia College. In 2012, Nicholas Dirks, then-executive vice president for Arts and Sciences, created the organization's executive committee—composed of the dean of the faculty of Arts and Sciences, Columbia College dean, and GSAS dean—in an effort to encourage the three deans to make joint executive decisions. The committee makes all final budgeting decisions for Arts and Sciences.
Arts and Sciences faculty members also staff many of the committees within Columbia College—such as the Committee on Instruction—creating an operational link between faculty and the college. But these overlaps ultimately do not mitigate the structural divide that exists between Columbia College students and the faculty who teach them.
But the top seven departments that teach the most Core sections have grown by a collective eight new faculty members, which represents just 11 percent of the total growth of the faculty.
Columbia College provided Spectator with the percent of Literature Humanities and Contemporary Civilization courses that were taught by tenure-track faculty each year since the 1991-92 academic year, just after the official formation of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. In that time, the percentage of sections taught by tenure-track faculty decreased from 47 percent to 28 percent.
Without a Columbia College faculty obligated to teach in the Core or a dean responsible for both the faculty and the quality of the Core who could compel faculty to teach it, there is no remaining organized method for preventing a large-scale dropoff of faculty involvement in the Core like the one the college has experienced.
This structural separation is also seen in the apparent lack of prioritization of the Core in decisions regarding faculty hiring. Over the past 13 academic years, the size of the Arts and Sciences faculty has grown by 72. But the top seven departments that teach the most Core sections have grown by a collective eight new faculty members, which represents just 11 percent of the total growth of the faculty. In contrast, the statistics department alone grew by nine in this period. The primary purpose of this growth was not for undergraduate instruction but to support their two new master's programs.
Bollinger maintains that "we keep working on trying to raise money for faculty who will teach in the Core … that's a big, big effort."
I ask him how that was possible given the minimal growth in the departments that support the Core.
"All I can say is this is something the college alums always talk about and we talk to them about trying to fund," Bollinger responds. "We're dealing with tradeoffs. If you want a great economics department, you're going to have to put a lot of money into that."
This either suggests that staffing the Core with tenure-track faculty is less of a priority than growing other areas of the faculty, or that the Arts and Sciences leadership believes the current size of the humanities and social science faculties is enough to cover both departmental courses and Core courses. If the latter is true, it would suggest a widespread lack of enthusiasm among tenure-track faculty for teaching in the Core.
Jervis attributes the faculty's declining participation to their tepid reception of the Core.
"Part of the problem is a lot of the faculty doesn't think the Core is terribly good … and the Core has never been intellectually re-examined since I've been here 35 years. Occasionally there have been committees … they're phonies, complete frauds," he explains. "There hasn't been an actual faculty-owned Core, and that's the part of the problem—and more money won't fix that."
Bollinger, Coatsworth, Madigan, and Valentini all acknowledge the sharp decline in faculty participation in the Core and share the goal of returning to a faculty-driven Core instruction. Coatsworth, for his part, adds, "It would be wonderful if the Core were endowed such that we could hire tenure and tenure-track faculty to teach every section, and I think that's one of the things that Jim Valentini dreams about when he thinks about the future. I think that's very important."
In order to incentivize more tenure-track faculty to teach in Literature Humanities and Contemporary Civilization, Arts and Sciences has established a bonus structure that offers $5,000 and $4,000 per semester for tenured and nontenured faculty, respectively. Tenure-track faculty can also earn a third payment of $5,000 or $4,000 if they teach both semesters of the course.
Faculty who believe the barrier to more participation in the Core is a lack of faculty to cover departmental offerings tend to think the bonus—while a welcome acknowledgment that teaching in the Core often requires more time and effort than another course—will not make a significant difference in the number of tenure-track faculty teaching in the Core. Those who think the barrier has more to do with faculty's lack of desire to teach Literature Humanities and Contemporary Civilization tend to expect the bonus to make more of a difference.
The incentive that is universally acknowledged as having the most potential to make a tangible difference is allowing senior faculty to earn extra leave by teaching the Core.
For Core instructors to take extra leave without sacrificing the quality of instruction in their departmental offerings, the size of the humanities and social science faculties would likely need to grow.
Valentini says he will wait to see if the monetary incentive structure increases the participation of tenure-track faculty in the Core before evaluating further measures.
VI: Conclusion - Bollinger commits to raise $1.5bn for A&S
Both Bollinger and the Arts and Sciences faculty I spoke with for this story express a common theme: For academic institutions to survive, they must be able to grow. The very nature of the pursuit of new knowledge is that scholars find new, innovative approaches to their research, and those new approaches are costly in terms of space, staff, and faculty resources.
At the start of Bollinger's term, Columbia's need for space far exceeded the capacity of the Morningside campus, and therefore needed to expand. Expansion of space–especially New York City space—is extraordinarily expensive, and requires significant financial capital that Columbia did not have.
The promise of Manhattanville and innovative projects like the Mind Brain Behavior Institute successfully galvanized donors during the first capital campaign and helped establish a culture of alumni giving at Columbia that did not exist before.
But this fundraising did not cover the full cost of expansion into Manhattanville. And to help generate the capital needed to build the new campus, Arts and Sciences has paid an expensive and increasing tax. As the common costs have grown, the ability of Arts and Sciences to afford expenditures critical to its programming has been much compromised.
No one should object to Arts and Sciences helping invest in Columbia's future. But there should be a transparent, active conversation about what (and how much) of the current experience should be sacrificed for the sake of future generations of Columbians. The benefit of Uris Hall represents an incredible opportunity for Arts and Sciences to expand in space, but it's an opportunity that is at least five years away. As it balances a responsibility to invest in Columbia's future, Columbia should also remember its obligation to the faculty and students who are here now.
Arts and Sciences has done what it can to raise its own revenue streams by greatly increasing the number of students enrolled in new programs and continuously raising tuition for students in all programs. Adopting additional austerity measures seems unfeasible, as there are needs to increase spending in several categories. This leaves new, bold fundraising as the only remaining vehicle to strengthen the budget of Arts and Sciences.
The faculty has good reason to be skeptical that fundraising efforts will be a success, as fundraising support from the central administration has already been promised in the past. Similar sentiments have been expressed over the last few years, when the divisional deans were created to lead strategic thinking across Arts and Sciences so that opportunities could be well communicated to potential donors.
The next capital campaign and the ongoing Core to Commencement campaign are critical junctures for Arts and Sciences. These efforts present the opportunity to raise $1.5 billion for core needs that will address the issues discussed above. The challenge will be not just to meet the fundraising goal, but to do so in a way that addresses the needs of the faculty and students, even if they are not the easiest to raise funds for.
Bollinger has surely already cemented his legacy as a transformational leader of the University. By making a lasting contribution to the health of the budget of Arts and Sciences through fundraising for incremental endowed chairs, key infrastructure improvements, and financial aid before retiring in 2022, Bollinger will have accomplished both kinds of progress—great expansion of the University and the strengthening of its Core.