Communications and Calendars
Letters to the Faculty:
September 21, 2005
Welcome back to campus after what I hope was a relaxing, and reinvigorating summer. I trust all of you had a significant break after what was a uniquely difficult year. Despite the challenges we faced together, we have, I believe, emerged from the fray with greater strength and genuine accomplishment.
The pace of life continued to be busy in Low Library over the summer. We finally closed the '05 budget close to target, and, with significant help from central administration (an additional $8.7 million in subvention to be exact), have continued to work to move closer towards balance for the '06 budget as well. Because of help from central, we were able to raise the overall salary pool by 5% and honor the commitments made for new hiring by my predecessors in this office. We also managed to increase the FRAP amount by $250 for junior faculty in humanities and social science departments, as well as for all lecturers. During the past year we recruited many fine new faculty — senior, junior, and mid-career — to Columbia; across the Arts and Sciences we recruited 43 new faculty arriving either this fall or in January, with a few additional faculty slated to join us in fall '06 (we will be distributing a list of new faculty for the first Arts and Sciences faculty meeting). At the same time, we succeeded in retaining most of our faculty who were being tempted by other institutions, despite very generous offers. We have many major budgetary challenges ahead, but even as we are examining every part of the budget in terms both of expenses and revenues, we are gearing up for the new capital campaign, assessing new possible revenue sources that will build on and exploit our strengths rather than distract us from our core mission, and working with central administration to supplement the resources available to us. We have secured the commitment of $12 million to help us with start-ups for recruitments in the sciences over the next four years, and you are all aware of the commitment of $15 million for the diversity initiative, all of which will be invested in the Arts and Sciences. We are also working with the President to secure additional resources to help rebuild the Department of Political Science; at the same time we have been discussing needs for a range of other initiatives as well. Despite the extremely pressing financial constraints, therefore, we are building on a close and productive relationship with the President and the Provost to secure sufficient resources to feel confident that we can maintain momentum in the years ahead.
We also worked over the summer to decompress some of our most crowded facilities on the Morningside campus. As you know from the letter from the President earlier this month, the Departments of Economics and Sociology agreed to move together to Knox Hall on the campus of the Union Theological Seminary, and we are beginning to plan for the renovation of that facility. This will provide significantly more space for the Departments of History and Political Science in particular, though other units, including SIPA, will gain some additional space as well. We are also working with the Undergraduate Writing Program to find other, and more suitable, quarters for this program, freeing Philosophy Hall in our effort to provide much-needed space for the English Department. We are considering a variety of related initiatives concerning the urgent problem of renewing and expanding teaching, research and office space on this campus, and will be in touch with you over the year to provide more information and invite your input.
We have also been working to rebuild the office of the Vice President for Arts and Sciences. We would take this opportunity to thank Martha Howell, who worked tirelessly last year as Director of Transition Planning for the Arts and Sciences; Martha worked on a wide range of projects, especially in planning for the launching of the capital campaign. We are delighted that Ann McDermott will continue this year to work in our office, in the same role as last year but now in the newly designated position of Associate Vice President for Academic Planning and Science Initiatives. Ann has taken a leading role in the planning for the new science building on the Northwest comer, among the many other projects she has taken on since joining our office. In addition to thanking her for her work for us, we would like to congratulate her for being the recipient of the EAS (Eastern Analytic Symposium) Award for Achievements in Magnetic Resonance for 2005; she will have a daylong mini-symposium in her honor on Nov 15th. This award is given to one person in her field annually; recent prior awardees include the Nobel Laureate Richard Ernst and two of the most-cited chemists, Stephen Fesik and Ad Bax.
We are also delighted to announce that Paul Anderer, the DeBary Class of'41 Chair in Asian Humanities and Professor in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, is joining our office. Paul, who has taught at Columbia since 1980, is a renowned scholar in modem Japanese literature currently at work on a study of the black-and-white films of Akira Kurosawa; he was Chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures from 1989 to 1997, and has served on many University committees as well as being the Acting Dean of the Graduate School and the Director of the Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture. Paul has agreed to join our office as Associate Vice President for Academic Planning and Global Initiatives. In this position, Paul will be carrying on many of the projects Martha Howell began last year, and as Martha emphasized in her conversations with me, Paul's experience and academic expertise make him particularly well qualified to help lead the fundraising effort for the social sciences and humanities and to strengthen curricular planning among the schools and departments that make up the Arts and Sciences. In Martha's words, "Paul is the ideal choice for this position, and I leave my temporary post in Arts and Sciences fully confident that the work we began last year will be expertly and energetically carried forward." In his mandate to work on global initiatives — an effort on our part to begin to realize some of the objectives set by President Lee Bollinger — he will work especially closely with Lisa Anderson, Dean of SIPA, and with the chairs of regional/language studies departments, as well as the directors (among others) of the many international programs and initiatives across the Arts and Sciences.
Our office, however, continues to be understaffed, especially given the new work we have begun towards the capital campaign and our effort to integrate financial and academic planning with an aggressive fundraising initiative. We are searching for a new Associate Vice President for Planning and Finance for this purpose. We are planning to hire other support staff as well to assist each new member of our team.
We continue to work very closely with Jean Howard, Vice Provost for Diversity Initiatives, as we seek to chart innovative ways to use the newly approved fund for appointments across the Arts and Sciences. As Jean and I wrote in our June memo to the Chairs, this spring the President has made available $15 million in new resources to support enhanced efforts to increase the diversity of the faculty in Arts and Sciences. The funds will primarily support target-of-opportunity appointments of excellent candidates at either the tenure-eligible or the tenured ranks who advance the diversity goals of the university. This money can be used to recruit outstanding women and members of other historically under-represented groups, especially African American, Latino/a, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Native American faculty, and for the recruitment of other faculty with a demonstrated commitment to diversity as evident in their research, teaching, or service and mentoring activities. Typically, these appointments will be centrally supported for three to seven years before departments assume responsibility for absorbing them into their regular faculty rosters. We hope, however, that as the budget situation improves a certain number of these lines will become permanently incremental as the absolute size of the faculty grows. For senior appointments, departments should submit names (with vita and two-page letter of support) to the Vice Provost by December I. For tenure-eligible appointments, documents should be submitted by February 1. Decisions about use of these funds will be made by me, the Vice Provost for Diversity Initiatives, and two faculty members of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Diversity Initiatives, one of whom will be a scientist. Among the criteria to be used in ranking proposals will be the intellectual excellence of candidates, their centrality to the intellectual mission of the hiring unit, their potential impact across departments, and their contributions to achieving the diversity goals of the university. In addition, this fall the Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity will be sponsoring information sessions to acquaint department and search committee chairs with the best practices for conducting searches that aim to increase both the excellence and the diversity of the faculty. I urge all departments within the Arts and Sciences to participate in this pilot program as we collectively attempt to create a more inclusive faculty and by doing so to better serve the educational needs of our students.
We are currently continuing the work done last year to bring our academic planning in line with plans for the capital campaign. We are building on work done in particular by Martha Howell, Ann McDermott, and the Arts and Sciences Fundraising Committee, with active participation on the part of UDAR. We are working especially closely with Linda Nelson and Rob Franklin. We are happy to report that last year the Arts and Sciences raised close to $76 million in gifts and pledges. In subsequent letters we will provide more information about our progress in fundraising and our hopes for the capital campaign.
As you will recall, we received a gift of $12 million in endowment from trustee Gerry Lenfest for a new Distinguished Faculty Award. We will be announcing soon the first group of Lenfest awards, for ten faculty across the Arts and Sciences who have been identified for their teaching, research, and service by chairs and others in the Arts and Sciences. This will be an annual award, and we look forward to celebrating the extraordinary achievements of our faculty in this as well as in many other ways during the year.
I wish you all the very best for a productive and happy new academic year.
Nicholas B. Dirks
Franz Boas Professor of Anthropology and History
Vice President for Arts and Sciences
Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences