Quigley Named Columbia College Dean

To Succeed Steven Marcus

Photograph: Austin E. Quigley. Photo Credit: Joe Piniero.

Austin E. Quigley, an authority on modern playwrights and dramatic literature and a scholar of the theater, has been named dean of Columbia College, it was announced last Wednesday.

A professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia since 1990, Quigley will become the 14th dean of the College on July 1.

Quigley will also hold the title of associate vice president for undergraduate education.

His scholarship has focused primarily on the modern period with books and articles devoted to modern dramatists such as Ibsen, Strindberg, Wilde, Brecht, Genet, Ionesco and Pinter. He has just completed a book on literary theory, and he is at work on another on postmodernism and the drama.

He holds the H. Gordon Garbedian Professorship and is chairman of the doctoral and baccalaureate programs in drama and theater arts. His books include The Modern Stage and Other Worlds, published by Methuen in 1985, and The Pinter Problem, published by Princeton University Press in 1975.

He succeeds Steven Marcus, the Dickens authority and long-time Columbia scholar, who will return to teaching and research.

His appointment was announced by President Rupp and David Cohen, the new vice president for arts and sciences, who will leave the provostship of Northwestern University to take office July 1. Cohen said:

"I am delighted that Professor Quigley has agreed to serve as the next Dean of the College. Austin will bring energy, enthusiasm and imagination to this exceedingly critical position in the University, and, importantly, he will offer the perspective of the humanities. We are intensifying our focus on the undergraduates at Columbia while preserving and enhancing our eminence in graduate education. I believe that Austin has a keen sense of the balance we are striving to achieve."

The selection was made following an extensive search by a committee composed of faculty, students and alumni, headed by David Rosand, the Meyer Schapiro Professor of Art History. "I was impressed by the deliberations of the search committee," said Cohen, "and by the quality of the three candidates presented to me for consideration. Selecting among them was challenging, since I am persuaded that each could be a strong and successful dean of the College."

Quigley said: "It is an honor to be selected as dean of Columbia College and associate vice president for undergraduate education, and I look forward to working in the new administrative structure that has been evolving at Columbia over the past few years."

The new dean continued: "My primary responsibility is the same as that of every dean: to reach the end of my term feeling that undergraduate education is in better shape than when I began. An undergraduate college is not, however, the mere sum of its buildings and their current occupants. It is an historical enterprise whose present activities are always informed by the interests and expectations of former and future students and teachers. A persistent sense of generational responsibility links past, present and future members of the College, and we who are here now have our brief opportunity to draw the maps and chart the route. This is a crucial time for undergraduate education at Columbia and across the nation. In a period of social flux and institutional renewal, our aim is not to plot the destination of every student but to teach them how to travel with purpose, understanding and control. I will do my best to provide the leadership that the students deserve and the institution expects."

Rupp said: "I am delighted that Austin Quigley will be dean of Columbia College. He and David Cohen will complement each other extremely well. I look forward to close collaboration with them as they lead the College and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences."

Provost Jonathan R. Cole said: "Austin Quigley is an exceptionally fine choice. His commitments to excellence, to the College's core values; his breadth of intellectual interest, his wit and his deep concern for the quality of our students' experience inside and outside the classroom will serve this great College and larger University well in a time of increased attention to undergraduate education."

Columbia College is the University's undergraduate, coeducational, liberal arts college, founded as King's College and renamed Columbia after the Revolutionary War.

It was the first college in New York and is known for its 75-year-old core curriculum in contemporary civilization and the humanities, the oldest uninterrupted program of general education in America.

It enrolls 3,400 students who earn the Bachelor of Arts degree.

Austin Edmund Quigley, 52, was born Dec, 31, 1942, in Northumberland, England, where his parents, Edmund and Marguerita Quigley, were teachers in the village of Annitsford, and he grew up in Felling, County Durham.

His first ambition was a career in professional soccer, and he played as a teenager for the junior team of one of England's premier clubs, Newcastle United. He played varsity soccer for Nottingham University and while a student there was selected to represent the county of Nottinghamshire.

Completing his undergraduate work in English literature at Nottingham and a master's degree in modern linguistics at Birmingham University, he came to the United States in the late 1960s to undertake doctoral work in literary studies at the University of California's new campus at Santa Cruz.

The recipient of a Danforth Fellowship, he wrote his dissertation for the Ph.D. in 1971 on The Dynamics of Dialogue: a Study of the Plays of Harold Pinter, which led to his later book on the dramatist.

His first teaching position was at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he worked for two years before moving to one of the country's leading English departments at the University of Virginia.

There he helped establish an interdisciplinary undergraduate program in modern studies and served as chairman of the English department during a period of extensive rebuilding.

He has held visiting appointments in England, Germany and Switzerland.

At Columbia, as a noted scholar of the drama, he has helped establish the Columbia/Barnard undergraduate major in drama and theater arts and to reconstruct and renew the Ph.D. and M.F.A. programs in theater.

Since 1992 he has been associate director of the Oscar Hammerstein II Center for Theatre Studies at Columbia. He has been chairman of the Lionel Trilling Seminars since 1993.

Quigley has a longstanding interest in the nature and status of explanatory frameworks in literary studies, and his work has focused on the interface between literary and linguistic theory and modern philosophy of language.

In his publications on the drama, this has involved attempts to develop a language to accommodate the many languages of the theater, and in his recently completed book, to be titled Theoretical Inquiry: Language, Linguistics and Literary Studies, he explores the capacity of theory to clarify the unexpected rather than confirm the presupposed.

He has served on the editorial boards of The Pinter Review, Theater/Theory/Text Performance, Modern Drama and New Literary History and is a trustee of Columbia University Press.

He is married to Barnard College English faculty member Patricia D. Denison. They have four daughters, Caroline, Catherine, Laura and Rebecca.


Columbia University Record -- May 26, 1995 -- Vol. 20, No. 30