Columbia University

Faculty of Arts and Sciences

December 2014 Newsletter


Dear Friends and Colleagues,

With the term soon coming to a close, we write to provide you with updates on recent discussions in the chair meetings as well as other news items. The semester has been full of activity and we can report progress and success on many fronts. We have worked closely this past semester with the Policy and Planning Committee (PPC), the Educational Policy and Planning Committee (EPPC), and the department chairs. These faculty groups have helped us progress important conversations that impact the lives of faculty and departments in the Arts and Sciences and we look forward to continuing to work together in the spring semester. We would like to thank the members of these committees for their tremendous service to the Arts and Sciences and the faculty that they represent.

The Office of the EVP is working to expand the level of service we provide to faculty and to departments. To this end, this past semester, we revised the orientation for both new faculty and new chairs and are working closely with the ADA steering committee to improve communication and support for departmental operations. We now have a newly elected Junior Faculty Advisory Board and look forward to their contributions. And, on the heels of our second successful faculty distinction reception, we're planning for a reception next year that will heighten the way faculty achievements are recognized.

Academic planning in the social science and humanities divisions proceeds apace. In the months ahead we will craft fundraising themes that can inform both the Arts and Sciences fundraising initiative and the Core to Commencement campaign. President Bollinger is personally engaged in these efforts. The divisional deans and the Executive Committee continue to work closely toward reaching our fundraising goals and increasing support both for students and for faculty and faculty-led initiatives.

Planning ahead for the spring semester, we are preparing a presentation on the Arts and Sciences budget at the January 22nd faculty meeting. We are also preparing for the Lenfest Faculty Awards, the highest faculty honor the Arts and Sciences bestows, and will announce the recipients in the spring term.

Thank you for all your dedication and hard work. We look forward to welcoming you at the next faculty meeting on Thursday, January 22, 2015.


David Madigan
Executive Vice President
Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Professor of Statistics

James Valentini
Dean of Columbia College 
Vice President for Undergraduate Education
Henry L. and Lucy G. Moses Professor of Chemistry

Carlos Alonso
Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Vice President for Graduate Education
Morris A. and Alma Schapiro Professor in The Humanities

Division of Humanities
In addition to leading the ongoing work of academic planning, Dean Marcus has been working to highlight the teaching and research undertaken by humanities faculty. To this end, she has met with staff at the Centers for Student Advising and Career Education and with key officers of Public Affairs, Alumni Affairs, and Development. This spring, in collaboration with Columbia University Medical Center and the Mailman School of Public Health, she will sponsor humanities faculty participation in the OpEd Project, a nationally successful program designed to increase the impact of underrepresented thinkers.

Division of Social Science
The strategic academic planning process continues swiftly in the Division of Social Science within and across departments, centers, and institutes. In addition, faculty members recently discussed the future of the social sciences during a dinner with President Lee Bollinger. In this wide-ranging discussion, faculty in attendance proposed innovative initiatives that could leverage Columbia's current strengths and ensure its future leadership in the social sciences. Continuing this conversation, a third division-wide discussion of the Social Science Initiative will take place on December 2nd at 9am at the Maison Française, focusing on the humanistic social sciences. All Arts and Sciences faculty are welcome to attend.

ARC Updates
The Academic Review Committee is steadily committed to streamlining the review process and continues to make headway in forging a quicker and more efficient process. To that end, there are now large data sets that are available to be used as a resource for conducting these reviews. There are 10 units that will be up for review next year which will be notified in the weeks to come. 

Classroom Committee Report
The Classroom Committee released a follow up report to their initial report conducted during the 2011-2012 academic year. While many improvements have been made based off the suggestions in that report, there is still a considerable issue with the lack of classroom space. Enforcing the policies guiding how classroom space is reserved and spaced is paramount to relieving some of the pressure and as such, the Arts and Sciences will now ensure compliance with individual departments. The Classroom Committee Report just released can be found here.  

The University is engaged in the reaccreditation process with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education through the Office of The Provost and as such is working with departments on the measurement of learning outcomes. This process is very important and crucial to the step of gaining reaccreditation. The Provost's Office has made contact with departments and will reach out if any further information is required.  

Global Forum 
The PPC is engaged in posing the important question of what it means to be a global university. In the era of increasing globalization and our place in it, there is a university-wide discussion taking place to give a voice to the ongoing vision of the Global Initiative. The Global Forum, as it is known, has a website with a discussion forum for these timely topics.

Computing in Context
As computer programming edges its way past traditional boundaries of science, the need to think of it outside that purview is increasingly important. Accordingly, Computing in Context, is a new course offering proposal that represents a new approach to teaching computing for the non-major.   

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