Columbia University

Faculty of Arts and Sciences

January 2015 Newsletter

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Dear Friends and Colleagues,

A new year is a time to reflect on time passed and contemplate the view forward, so as we tread into 2015, a number of noteworthy anniversaries bear sharing. From the founding of the Faculty of Political Science 135 years ago (which would later become the Graduate School) to the creation of the School of the Arts 60 years ago, we have many building blocks to celebrate that have helped form the Faculty of Arts and Sciences as we know it today.

These milestones mark important times and remind us of our ever-evolving history. It’s no different now as we consistently strive to realize our future in our initiatives and our goals. As we've highlighted before, the Science Initiative, the Arts and Sciences campaign and the Core to Commencement campaign are all gaining speed and well on their way to building up an even more robust university.  

This academic year has witnessed our community come together over the Ebola epidemic and the Michael Brown and Eric Garner crisis, has seen a coordinated and strengthened response system to gender-based misconduct, and within this our faculty has played crucial parts in addressing these national issues. Synthesizing the impact of these and other more recent events reinforce the pivotal role the faculty plays in our understanding of the world.

In this month’s newsletter, we’re happy to announce the names of faculty who’ve recently become tenured, share the latest developments of the MAO Pass Through program, the next steps to be taken from the Classroom Committee Report and announce the newly instituted A&S-wide delegated time for faculty meetings starting in fall 2015.

Tomorrow we have our next Faculty Meeting at 12:00 p.m. in the Faculty Room of Low Library. In this meeting we will be addressing the University Forum on Global Columbia and the budget. We look forward to seeing you there.  

Wishing you all the best for the new year ahead. 


David Madigan
Executive Vice President and
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

The Humanities division is pleased to announce the seven A&S Humanities faculty members who joined the newest class of Columbia Public Voices Fellows; the fellowship program provides funding for faculty to participate in the OpEd Project to cultivate national thought leaders among scholars, scientists, and clinicians who can influence the larger public debate beyond the university. Also, the inaugural Junior Faculty Book Party will take place on Feb. 4 at 5:00 p.m. in the Faculty Room in Low Library; please RSVP to to attend (more info below in Social Science news). Last, we are grateful to the Society of Fellows in the Humanities for announcing a new allocation of funds that will support individual graduate student travel grants, research costs, and conferences organized by graduate students. 

Division of Science

The Division of Science has been working closely with the Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute (ZMBBI) to identify outstanding candidates for six joint A&S/ZMBBI faculty positions. Three of the positions are slated for the department of Psychology, and three for candidates across the departments of Biological Sciences, Chemistry, E3B, and Physics whose work interfaces with and will further cutting-edge neuroscience research. Candidates from these fields will be visiting Columbia and presenting their programs of research throughout the months of January and February.

Division of Social Science

The division's academic planning process enters an exciting new stage this month. Dean Nelson will soon circulate an outline of the academic plan to faculty; working with department chairs and directors of centers and institutes, she will spearhead its completion. Two upcoming events will expand the reach of social science research and highlight faculty achievement: “Media Meetings” for junior faculty resume on February 2nd with a conversation with Sewell Chan, the deputy opinion page editor of The New York Times. On Feb. 4th, there will be a celebration of recent books published by junior faculty, co-hosted with the Division of Humanities and The Heyman Center.

Tenure Announcements

We’re pleased to announce the fall 2014 tenure appointments for the following faculty members:

Zoe Crossland, Associate Professor, Anthropology

Barbel Honisch, Associate Professor, Earth and Environmental Science

Gray Tuttle, Leila Hadley Luce Associate Professor of Modern Tibetan Studies East Asian Languages and Cultures

Patricia Dailey, Associate Professor, English and Comparative Literature

Vincent Debaene, Associate Professor, French and Romance Philology

Christine Philliou, Associate Professor, History

Caterina Pizzigoni, Associate Professor, History

Ivan Corwin, Associate Professor, Mathematics

Robert Lipshitz, Associate Professor, Mathematics

Shamus Khan, Associate Professor, Sociology

Daphna Shohamy, Associate Professor, Psychology

We’re also pleased to announce the spring 2015 tenure appointments for the following faculty members:

Qingmin Liu, Associate Professor, Economics

Alberto Nicolis, Associate Professor, Physics 

MAO Pass-Through

At the last chairs meeting on Dec. 15, Dean Carlos Alonso presented on the MAO Pass-Through program, sharing a round of possible resolutions. While the resolutions weren't adopted, a proposal to form an ad-hoc committee to work towards a consensus for the program was initiated; updates on the committee's formation are forthcoming.

Classroom Committee Report

As a response to the recently completed Classroom Committee Report 2014, the pressing issue of limited classroom space has been escalated and a task force has been formed to address this singular issue arising from the report. Classroom space continues to be a very important issue that is being addressed with increasing priority.

Appointed Meeting Times

As announced at the Dec. 15 chairs meeting, a newly appointed consistent meeting time for faculty meetings has been set for Wednesdays from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. starting fall 2015. Departments are asked to refrain from scheduling tenured or tenure-track instructors to teach during this time to encourage faculty engagement in governance and other departmental affairs.

Visit the Faculty of Arts and Sciences website at


Eric Foner: 'Gateway To Freedom': Heroes, Danger and Loss On The Underground Railroad  

Annette Insdorf: New Documentaries Touch the Holocaust

Raising The Profile of Columbia's Art

Don Melnick: Make Forests Pay 



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