Category: Administration

In a press release today, Columbia has announced outgoing Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew will begin teaching as a Visiting Professor at SIPA starting next month.

The full press release can be found below:

Columbia University announced that outgoing Secretary of the Treasury Jacob “Jack” Lew would be joining its School of International and Public Affairs faculty as a visiting professor in February. He will lecture, teach graduate students, and work with faculty members at the school and across the University on the subjects of international economics, fiscal and trade policy, and a range of other public policy issues.

“As a school committed to the highest level of both academic scholarship and producing leaders in public policy and international relations, we are delighted to have someone with Secretary Lew’s unique government leadership experience join us,” said Dean Merit E. Janow, herself a former Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative who later served as one of the seven members of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Appellate Body. “At a time when we are all concerned with issues of global economic growth, trade and finance, our federal budget, tax system and the challenge of creating economic opportunity, Jack Lew brings insights borne of years of experience from the academy and the most senior decision making roles in the US and global economy.”

“Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs is central to the university’s mission of applying scholarly expertise and practical experience to understanding the world and addressing its problems,” said Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger. “Our university community is better able to serve that mission when we welcome leaders like Secretary Lew who possess deep first-hand knowledge about the workings of the U.S. government and international institutions. He will be an invaluable addition to our faculty, and an asset for our students who will benefit greatly from all that he has to teach them.”

“SIPA is at the forefront of tackling critical policy challenges facing the global community. I am delighted to have the opportunity to share my experience with talented young people who aspire to engage in the world of public policy and international affairs. I am impressed with the strength of Columbia’s faculty, students and thought leadership and look forward to making a contribution to the education of a new generation of leaders,” said Jacob J. Lew.

Secretary Lew has led the Treasury Department since 2013. He took office as the U.S. economy was struggling to regain its footing after the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. He helped lead the U.S. economy to its current foundation of economic growth and declining unemployment.

Prior to serving as Treasury Secretary, Lew was White House Chief of Staff and Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), a position he also held from 1998 to 2001. As White House Chief of Staff, Lew advised the President on issues from politics to policy. Before joining the Obama administration in 2009, initially as Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, Lew served as a managing director and chief operating officer at Citigroup, and executive vice president and chief operating officer of New York University, where he was also a professor of public administration.

As OMB Director from 1998 to 2001, Lew led the Clinton Administration’s budget team and served as a member of the National Security Council. He was Special Assistant to the President from 1993 to 1994.

Lew began his career in Washington in 1973 as a legislative aide. From 1979 to 1987, he was a principal domestic policy advisor to House Speaker Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr.

A graduate of Harvard College and Georgetown University Law Center, Lew is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the National Academy of Social Insurance. His appointment will begin on February 1, 2017.

In an email sent to members of the Columbia community earlier today, the University has confirmed the passing of Yi-Chia “Mia” Chen from an apparent suicide. Chen, an exchange student from Waseda University in Japan had been a part of Columbia College. The full email from James Valentini, Dean of Columbia College can be found below:

As we enter a new semester, we think it is important to share resources available on campus to members of the Columbia community:

Student Resources:

Email from Dean James Valentini:

 

Dear Students,

With a heavy heart, I am writing to let you know about the loss of a member of our community. Yi-Chia “Mia” Chen, an exchange student at Columbia College from Waseda University in Japan, has died in an apparent suicide.

We have begun reaching out to Mia’s friends and classmates whom we could identify to provide support and assistance during this difficult time. Whether or not you knew Mia, you may wish to gather with other community members. We have set up a space for reflection and conversation from 7-9 p.m. on Broadway 14th floor East and McBain Main Lounge.

This is an especially difficult time for all of us. As you know, we mourned the loss of another Columbia College student in December. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your advisers, your Residential Life staff, Counseling and Psychological Services, the Office of the University Chaplain, your faculty members, and family and friends for support.

The following resources are available to you:

  • The Broadway Residence Hall 14th Floor East Lounge and the McBain Main Lounge will be open as gathering spaces from 7-9 p.m. today. Staff from Counseling and Psychological Services, the Office of University Chaplain, and Residential Life will be in attendance. Anytime before 7 p.m., staff from Residential Life will also be available in Broadway 103 for drop-in visits.
  • In addition to their regular hours, Counseling and Psychological Services (212-854-2878) will offer extended walk-in hours:
    • 5-10 p.m. tonight and tomorrow in the CPS office in Broadway Hall
    • All day today and tomorrow until 10 p.m. on the fifth floor of Lerner Hall
  • The Office of the University Chaplain (212-854-1493) in Earl Hall and St. Paul’s Chapel will be open until 10 p.m. for individual or group counseling.
  • Your advisers in the Berick Center for Student Advising (212-854-6378) are available to talk with you about any concerns.
  • You can seek support from Residential Life staff at any time, who may connect you with additional resources.

I know that all of you join me in sending our deepest condolences to Mia’s family and friends.

Sincerely,
James J. Valentini
Dean of Columbia College and
Vice President for Undergraduate Education

cc: Mary C. Boyce, Dean of The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science

Resources

 

In an email sent to students earlier today, Provost John Coatsworth notified students and teaching assistants behind the University’s rationale in challenging the vote to decide whether Teaching Assistants should unionize that was overwhelmingly supported by eligible voters based on its results.

The full email can be found below:

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

Last month, after an election to determine whether Columbia’s research and teaching assistants will be represented by the United Auto Workers, the University formally asked the National Labor Relations Board to examine whether certain actions by union representatives and Board agents responsible for supervising the election improperly affected the election outcome. I am writing to explain why we did so.

All of us have chosen to be part of this community because we value different viewpoints and believe that individual rights matter. Actions that could intimidate voters or create the impression of surveillance, such as installing a camera operated by union supporters just steps from the polling place in Earl Hall, are inconsistent with these basic values and violate NLRB election rules. In addition, the NLRB Regional Office’s reversal regarding the presentation of identification at the polls (first requiring, then encouraging, then ultimately not even allowing poll watchers to request IDs), not only created confusion but had the likely effect of allowing ineligible voters to vote, while forcing eligible voters to cast challenged ballots. Students arrived at Earl Hall only to be told that their names already had been checked off as having voted there.

If there were a means to protect voters’ rights and compliance with NLRB rules without filing objections with the NLRB, or, for that matter, if students troubled by these violations and others during the election were able to raise their concerns directly with the NLRB, we could have considered a different course. However, those alternatives do not exist: Under the National Labor Relations Act, our filing of objections is the sole available recourse for ensuring compliance with rules governing the election and to speak on behalf of student voters who have no independent voice in the process. The NLRB has responded to our filing by recognizing that the objections we raised, “if true, could have affected the outcome of the election and would, therefore, warrant setting aside the election.” The Board has scheduled a hearing in this matter later in the month.

I want to be clear that the University has taken this action mindful of concerns that extend beyond the outcome of last month’s election and the manner in which it was conducted. Our academic community may be operating within a new and very different framework for engaging with research and teaching assistants and for preparing them to have careers as scholars, the latter being one of our core functions as a university. That new framework would be governed by federal law and by the National Labor Relations Board.

In this setting, the prevailing rules must be scrupulously observed by all parties if we are to reach fair outcomes and effectively support all of our teaching and research assistants. As I said on many occasions before and after last month’s election, we will continue to strive so that Columbia remains a place where every student can achieve the highest levels of intellectual accomplishment and personal fulfillment. The actions taken by the University since the election should be understood as consistent with, and essential to that commitment.

Sincerely,

John H. Coatsworth

Provost

In an email sent to students moments ago, Columbia has confirmed the passing of Mounia Abousaid (CC ’17), a resident of Broadway Residence Hall.

The full email can be found below:

Dear Students,

It is with great sadness that I write with some difficult news for our community. Mounia Abousaid, a Columbia College senior from Rabat, Morocco, and a resident of Broadway Hall, has passed away.

Mounia was a Comparative Literature and Society major who came to Columbia from the United World College in New Mexico, and was previously recognized for campus contributions with a King’s Crown Leadership Award. We have been in contact with Mounia’s family to provide support and assistance during this difficult time.

When we lose a member of our community, we are all affected. I encourage you to rely on one another and on University resources for support. The Broadway Residence Hall 14th Floor West Lounge will be open as a gathering space from noon until 5 p.m. today. Staff from offices including Counseling and Psychological Services, Residential Life and the Office of the University Chaplain will be there to support you.

Counseling and Psychological Services (212-854-2878) will have walk-in hours today from 6 to 9 p.m. on the 5th floor of Lerner Hall, 100 Carman Hall, 600 W. 113th St, Room 2BB, and 102 Broadway Hall, in addition to their regular hours in Lerner Hall. You may also seek support from Residential Life staff, as well as the Office of the University Chaplain (212-854-1493).

Your advisers in the Berick Center for Student Advising (212-854-6378) are also available to talk with you about any concerns. Please reach out if you feel that your finals or your academic work is being affected.

As you finish your finals this week, please take care of yourself and those around you. I know that all of you join me in sending our deepest condolences to Mounia’s family and friends, and ask that you keep them in your thoughts in the days ahead.

Sincerely,

James J. Valentini
Dean of Columbia College and
Vice President for Undergraduate Education

cc: Mary C. Boyce, Dean of The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science

Student Resources:

Photo Courtesy of Columbia Band Alumni

In a tip sent to The Lion, the Columbia University Marching Band has been blocked from hosting this semester’s Orgo Night in Butler 209.

Orgo Night is supposed to take place in Butler 209 at 11:59PM on 12/15. During the event, the band comments and jokes about past events on campus while helping students destress through their performances. They also perform various songs from their collection. An example of a past Orgo Night event can be found here.

The band has posted an official response to the administration’s decision:

Official Statement on Administrative Skullfuckery:

On Wednesday, December 7th, we, the leadership of the Columbia University Marching Band, the Cleverest Band in the WorldTM, received an “invitation” to meet with Provost John Coatsworth and Vice Provost and Head Librarian Ann Thornton. The original correspondence cited a desire to discuss “the band’s usage of Butler library,” with no further details provided. The meeting was held on Friday, December 9th—less than a week prior to Orgo Night.

In the meeting, Vice Provost Ann Thornton immediately informed us that Orgo Night could no longer take place in Butler, where it has been held for the last forty years. When we asked why our event, only six days away, was suddenly under fire, Vice Provost Thornton cited that Orgo Night was “a disruption of a crucial study space during an already stressful time of year,” as if kicking us out will make finals week in Butler any less stressful.

After a long and contentious meeting, the Provost and Vice Provost offered that the band and the administration take the weekend to consider their positions, formulate possible compromises, and reconvene on the following Monday, December 12th.

At this second meeting, we came prepared with a set of concessions in order to preserve the core tenet of the Orgo Night tradition: its location, Butler 209. Despite our willingness to compromise, the Provost and Vice Provost remained entirely steadfast in their position. They were unwilling to consider our proposals, and failed to offer any compromises of their own or show any understanding of our position, which is that Orgo Night held anywhere but Butler 209 is simply not Orgo Night. We were not only blindsided by their unwillingness to compromise as per our previous agreement, but we were also disturbed by the blatant lack of respect for what has become a widely-beloved campus tradition.

The tradition of having Orgo Night in Butler 209 dates back to 1975, when the Marching Band stormed Butler the night before the Organic Chemistry exam. Since then, this event has become an institutionalized tradition, adopted by the Columbia administration and recognized for what it is: a communal experience that lets everyone blow off some stress during finals week, turning

“Stress Central” into a place of singing, dancing, and Donald Trump jokes. Butler Library is an iconic location on campus, and in choosing to enter Butler, the Band disrupts not just a library but also this campus’s pervasive stress culture (where the fourth ranked school in the nation is officially ranked number one). Orgo Night is an event that is meant to remind students that it is perfectly acceptable to sidestep studying for a much-needed and well-deserved break. Seeing as Orgo Night’s presence in Butler has historically lasted no longer than 45 minutes, its benefits as a destressing mechanism and a community-building event far outweigh the cost of disrupting one reading room in one of the many study spaces on campus for less than an hour.

We are, above all else, shocked at the Provost and Vice Provost’s disrespect for their own students. Not only are they undermining a decades-long tradition on a campus infamously devoid of school spirit, but they are also making it clear to Columbia at large that fostering a community is not their priority. Furthermore, we hope this serves as a case study on the Columbia administration’s preferred method of perniciously encroaching on its own principles of “free expression”. While we appreciate their ambition in attempting to make Surf n’ Turf Columbia’s only campus tradition, we, in conjunction with our Alumni network, vow to keep fighting the good fight against the War on Fun.

Sincerely and g(tb)2 ,
The Board of the Columbia University Marching Band
P.S. CUMB to Orgo Night. Thursday, December 15, 11:59 PM.