Columbia University

Communications and Calendars

Letters to the Faculty: September 14, 2011

Dear Colleagues:

I am writing at the start of this new academic year about the new positions created in the office of the Executive Vice President for the Arts and Sciences. These are the new Executive Vice Dean, Geraldine Downey, and the three new Divisional Deans, Amber Miller (Dean of Science), Pierre Force (Dean of Humanities), and Geraldine Downey (Interim Dean of Social Science).

Our goal in making these appointments is to further our academic mission of excellence in teaching and research. A key goal of this restructuring is to ensure more effective and continuous communication between the central administration of Arts and Sciences and the departments, institutes, and centers that compose it. Another key goal is to facilitate rapid and informed decision making on issues of faculty and departmental concern. We are also seeking to improve coordination between academic and resource planning.

The Executive Vice Dean will report directly to the EVP for Arts and Sciences, and will have responsibility for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Arts and Sciences. The EVD will have special responsibility for the development of an A & S wide strategic and budgetary planning process; for the implementation and evaluation of the A & S tenure review process; and for faculty development efforts.

The EVD will substitute for me in meetings both within and outside the Arts and Sciences when I am unable to attend or when specifically delegated as my representative.

The Divisional Deans will play new and leading roles in academic administration in the Arts and Sciences. Like the EVD, they will report directly to me, and will work with each other and the EVD to ensure overall coordination.

In particular, the principal responsibilities of the divisional deans will be to:

- Exercise oversight of academic departments, research centers, institutes, and other major units in their divisions (cross divisional institutes will either be “assigned” to a divisional dean or to the Executive Vice Dean).

- Carry out strategic planning in their divisions and manage ARC reviews and their implementation;

- Authorize faculty searches within their divisions and approve leaves, adjunct hires, and retentions, subject to budgetary constraints; they will also manage preparation of faculty reappointment and promotion cases in their areas.

- Approve visitors (when budgets allow), recommend appointments of department chairs and Institute/Center directors, set faculty salaries within departmental pools in consultation with chairs, recommend equity and extraordinary salary adjustments and retentions, determine research support for faculty, coordinate proposals for office/lab renovation, and manage the allocation of space within their divisions.

- Work closely with senior administrative staff to monitor departmental and Institute expenditures, ensure proper financial stewardship and monitor compliance with university regulations regarding research, research misconduct, conflict of interest, conflict of commitment, equal opportunity, and the like.

- Help coordinate staffing of curriculum across schools and departments.

In order to carry out these tasks effectively, the divisional deans will meet regularly with the chairs and directors within their divisional portfolios. Though they will report to the EVP, secure approval for key decisions and initiatives, and coordinate with other Arts and Sciences administrators and staff, they will be able to act on many issues and concerns with considerable autonomy.

I look forward to working with Geraldine, Amber, and Pierre, and all of you, in the year ahead.

All best,


Nicholas B. Dirks
Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology and History
Executive Vice President for Arts and Sciences