Photo Courtesy Daniel Stone (CC ’16)
In a discussion with the University Senate last Friday, President Bollinger responded to comments about the proposed placement of Henry Moore’s “Reclining Woman” in front of Butler Library. In his response, he emphasized that the University will refrain from installing the sculpture during the summer and will instead seek community feedback in the fall.
Details of his announcement can be found below from an email sent by Daniel Stone (CC ’16), one of the lead organizers to prevent the statue from being placed directly in front of the library. Through petitions, multiple op-eds, and interviews with the BBC, thousands of students and impartial spectators have commented on what has become quite the controversial woman.
Dear petition signer,
I’m writing to give you an update on the status of the Henry Moore sculpture. Last Friday, President Bollinger publicly acknowledged the sculpture installation fiasco for the first time. At a meeting of the University Senate, he uncharacteristically apologized about how the decision had been handled. If we are to go by what he said, there will be some sort of formal process in the fall that involves community feedback.I highly recommend reading Bollinger’s statement (below). Even as someone who has done a bit of research about Bollinger and his history, I found it surprising.(Also, Spec really sucks for failing to cover this news. If you know people on Spec, tell them that.)
President Bollinger’s Statement (Emphasis Mine)
I want to say something about the Henry Moore sculpture. So this is a mistake. And I don’t mean a mistake in the actual outcome, I mean a mistake in the way the institution has functioned. It’s nobody’s fault except mine because my responsibility is everything, especially those things that don’t go right. I would describe this as a classic – and I don’t mean this to be derogative of anybody – but a classic kind of bureaucratic mistake, that is, everybody around the institution thinking they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing, doing it in good faith and with enthusiasm, and we end up in a result where there has not been a sufficient collective thought process here and a decision making process that we are comfortable with.
So we put this on pause. We will have that process more and will figure out the right result. So it’s my responsibility. It is just the institution, one case I know of, tried never to let this happen, but somehow it happened and that’s where we are.
I’ll take questions in just a minute. Let me come back on this rather than take time today. I have to leave at two o’clock, I have a plane and we have a number of things. But I’ll try to give more on this in time. I just want to acknowledge that this is not the way – good faith, again, everybody acted well. A result that wasn’t sufficiently vetted through the University. I promise not to put up the Henry Moore sculpture during the summer while you’re all away. So summer powers does not include resolving this.
So, rest assured as you get through finals that this figure will not be gracing Butler anytime soon (at least not for the next four months).
Daniel Stone is a senior in Columbia College and was a former Managing Editor for the Columbia Lion.