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File / Courtesy of Michael DiVito /

Dear Dean Rosen-Metsch,

As you know, your students are exceptional. They are parents, they are veterans, they have had full careers and been admitted to dual B.A. programs. They are dancers and United Nations panelists and refugees. They are our neighbors and staff and friends. They cannot fit into neat boxes because they transcend every boundary put before them.

You now hold the responsibility of fighting for them, of ensuring that they thrive as much as—if not more than—the traditional college student in the Columbia community. As a General Studies alumna yourself, you know that is not an easy task.

The General Studies community faces unique challenges—especially now—that will play a major role in determining the future of the school. Though it struggles with alumni donations and funds compared to the other undergraduate colleges, financial need for General Studies students often outweighs that of Columbia College or School of Engineering and Applied Science students. Indeed, almost 40 percent of students in General Studies receive Pell Grants, and many in General Studies struggle with issues such as food insecurity, non-guaranteed student housing, and the burden of tuition. To tackle these issues, General Studies needs a tenacious advocate, someone willing to persistently work with alumni and potential donors to generate funds.

But General Studies also thrives because it is such a tight-knit and supportive community. Your predecessor, Peter Awn, is hugely responsible for this; in 20 years, through his charisma, his thoughtfulness, and his passion, he has not only become the most beloved figure of GS but also a driving force behind why GS has gained its incredible reputation. Unlike most other Columbia administrators, he knows each of his students by name, and his students know him in turn. He has been a tireless advocate for the diverse needs of GS and a model of leadership in a generally impersonal, disconnected administration. Because of that, he will be truly missed.

Moving forward, you will, of course, have your own style of leadership. But you will also need to, like Awn, be charismatic, open-minded, resourceful, and resilient to support the GS community interpersonally and tackle the financial issues GS must face.

All of this to say: You have big shoes to fill. We hope you’re ready.

We’re rooting for you,

141st Editorial Board

The authors are members of Spectator’s 141st editorial board.

To respond to this staff edit, or submit an op-ed, contact opinion@columbiaspectator.com.

Dean Awn Staff Edit
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