Columbia University

Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Diversity in the Arts and Sciences

PPC Equity Reports (PDF) 

Dear members of the Columbia community:
The questions this report asks and answers about obstacles to professional advancement facing women and other under-represented faculty groups are central to our life and mission at Columbia. In the two years since this initiative was commenced, the issues that the Policy and Planning Committee (PPC) set out to explore with a rigor befitting our institution have only taken on larger significance here and throughout society. I am deeply grateful to the Arts and Sciences faculty for engaging in this careful self-examination, for identifying where we are falling short, and for pointing out where we must direct our efforts as a University. That group includes Maya Tolstoy, Interim Executive Vice President and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and the other members of the Policy and Planning Committee, as well as dozens of Arts and Sciences faculty who served on the three Equity Committees and the still much larger group of faculty who sat for interviews and responded to surveys.
The world class scholarship that defines Columbia depends upon diversity and upon the existence of a just and equitable environment in which a diverse faculty can thrive. Examining whether we are succeeding in achieving this is a never-ending responsibility of the institution, one that bears on every member of our community. This report says many important things, none of them more important than declaring Columbia's commitment to persist in the pursuit of these goals.
Lee C. Bollinger

Dear Colleagues in Arts and Sciences,

Equity is a cornerstone of integrity in the academic process allowing the best scholarship to thrive. Unfortunately, the evidence of differences in workload and salary, compounded by prevalent harassment and discrimination, is well documented across academia, as are the debilitating effects of cronyism on morale. At Columbia, we took these issues to heart and conducted a comprehensive equity study within the three divisions of Arts and Sciences faculty. Our results show that the compounding of these issues can in some cases leave women and faculty of color feeling alienated from their institution, with an un-level playing field on which to advance their careers in the fiercely competitive world of a leading research university.
It is urgent to recognize the cumulative burden of additional service, subtle or overt discrimination, exclusion from the circles of power, or harassment. As academics we will continue to study the issues and collect data to track progress. However, action is crucial to confront the inequities. We have been able to address some of these issues even before the report was finalized, but others will require concerted and dedicated efforts over the months and years to come. Transparency, process, accountability, leadership, vigilance and especially, the help and support of all our colleagues is essential to build an environment that welcomes and supports all faculty. This will ensure that the best scholarship and teaching can thrive and that we model an equitable and respectful community for our students.
I am enormously grateful to the many faculty who contributed their time and intellectual leadership to this effort. It is work vital to the future of the Arts and Sciences at Columbia and an important contribution to the discussion writ large in higher education.
Maya Tolstoy
Interim Executive Vice President and Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences

A&S Faculty Development & Diversity