Columbia University

Faculty of Arts and Sciences

November 2014 Newsletter


Dear Friends and Colleagues,

As we approach the Thanksgiving break, we would like to take a moment to reflect on the many exciting Arts and Sciences initiatives underway, from our newly announced fundraising plan to the numerous faculty searches authorized during the IBS process, this fall has been busy. 

This year we welcomed two new divisional deans, Dean of Humanities, Sharon Marcus, and Dean of Social Science, Alondra Nelson who join Dean of Science Amber Miller to continue on the legacy of service the divisional deans have come to provide over the years. With the appointment of Dean Marcus and Dean Nelson, we are accelerating towards increased divisional planning and communication centered on the advancement of their individual divisional initiatives. 

Earlier this summer, as many of you know, President Bollinger announced an Arts and Sciences fundraising initiative and, an accelerated academic planning exercise, undertaken across all 27 departments, is now in progress to prepare for this. With the Science Initiative launch 18 months ago, and its subsequent success, it provides a solid foundation for the natural sciences, and stands as an important and meaningful guide for the rest of the Arts and Sciences. The College’s Core to Commencement campaign has already begun as well and complements the new Arts and Science fundraising initiative in myriad ways. We look forward to reporting progress on both fronts as the year progresses. 

We are also pleased to announce that with support from the President and Provost, there will now be authorization for replacement hires for all positions associated either with faculty retirement, unsuccessful tenure cases or departures of another nature. The divisional deans and and the Executive Vice President are working with the department chairs to develop a specific plan for implementation. 

Looking forward into the remainder of the 2014-2015 academic year, we have substantial support from central administration for the authorization of a number of faculty searches that represent a significant increase across all three divisions. With this support, we have the opportunity to address some exciting hiring opportunities that can propel us to new heights.

In the immediate future, we look forward to seeing you at the next faculty meeting, to be held Monday, November 10, from 12-2 p.m. in the Faculty Room in Low Library. 


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. & Alma Schapiro Professor in The Humanities

Division of Humanities
The Division of Humanities has been hard at work on the Humanities Initiative, with Dean Marcus meeting with key stakeholders and leading meetings with chairs, directors of Institutes and Centers, and small working groups focused on particular areas, such as Digital Humanities. Dean Marcus has also worked with the Heyman Center, the other divisional deans, and the Executive Committee to organize a spring event, to be held on Feb. 4, 2015, in the Faculty Room, Low Library from 5-7 p.m., which will celebrate junior faculty who published books between 2010 and 2014.

Division of Science
The Division of Science has had several notable achievements this semester. These include a major reception hosted by President Lee Bollinger to celebrate the Science Initiative's first 18 months and kick off its next phase, and the launch of the Science Initiative’s website in September. You're encouraged to visit the new website, which provides access to the Initiative’s strategic plan and other documents, news from the natural science departments, and a multimedia section with faculty interviews and research highlights. 

Division of Social Science
There are several new developments in the Division of Social Science this semester; working with Dean Nelson, social science faculty have been engaged in a strategic, academic planning process at divisional faculty meetings, which will culminate in the Social Science Initiative. Dean Nelson also has been working on the wider dissemination of faculty research, including publishing a weekly newsletter and inaugurating “media meetings” that give untenured and recently tenured faculty the opportunity to discuss their research with leading editors and journalists at the New York TimesThe Guardian, and other venues.

Faculty Distinction Reception
The second annual Faculty Distinction Reception was held Wednesday, Oct. 29, in the Rotunda of Low Library, celebrating over 200 faculty awards. Over 130 Arts and Sciences faculty were recognized for awards and honors spanning across the globe. The reception marks the new annual tradition that honors faculty achievement within the five schools of the Arts and Sciences. 

Junior Faculty Advisory Board
The Junior Faculty Advisory Board (JFAB), the newest faculty committee, is working on a number of initiatives surrounding issues of mentoring, work-life, the tenure process as well as building a community among the junior faculty through social events. 

Diversity Initiative
The Office of the Senior Associate Provost for Faculty Diversity and Inclusion is pleased to announce the Provost’s Office support for faculty recruitments from underrepresented groups. Departments and eligible junior faculty were encouraged to submit to proposals for possible faculty lines and small individual grants to this university supported program.  Results of the competition are expected to be released by the Provost's Office later this year. 

School of Continuing Education Dean Search 
With the announcement that School of Continuing Education Dean Kristine Billmyer would step down at the end of this year, there is a nation-wide search in progress to fill the position. Once identified, the new dean will be charged with building high quality, innovative, and cross-disciplinary programs that build on Columbia's strengths and provides opportunities to reach new audiences in a timely and meaningful way.

Giving Day
The five schools of the Arts and Sciences collectively raised over $6.8 million in the third annual Columbia Giving Day challenge on Wednesday, Oct. 29. The event is an annual, online fundraising initiative that welcomes alumni, students, parents and friends of Columbia to contribute to the school of their choice with contests that award matching gifts as prizes for individual schools. 

Visit the Faculty of Arts & Sciences website at



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