New York’s Columbia College Dean Resigns - Higher Education
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New York’s Columbia College Dean Resigns

by Diverse Staff

NEW YORK — The dean of Columbia College in New York City has abruptly resigned.

The resignation by Dr. Michele Moody-Adams comes two weeks before classes start at the undergraduate division of Columbia University.

She is the first female and the first Black dean of the college. She was recruited in 2009 from Cornell University where she was vice provost.

The New York Times reports that she cited administrative changes that would diminish or eliminate her authority.

In an e-mail message to Columbia alumni and donors Saturday, Moody-Adams said she planned to stay through the academic year. But on Monday, Columbia University President Lee Bollinger said in a statement that it was in the college’s best interest for her to step down immediately. He said an interim dean would be named.

In his statement, Bollinger said that his administration had hoped that Moody-Adams would be “a key voice in the ongoing discussions involving faculty, alumni and administrators about how to position the college even more centrally in the life of Columbia’s faculty of arts and sciences.”

Meanwhile, Moody-Adams wrote in her e-mail message that the university had begun to “transform the administrative structure” of the faculty of arts and sciences, compromising her authority over “crucial policy, fund-raising and budgetary matters.”

She said that she had repeatedly expressed concerns that the changes would affect “the college’s academic quality and financial health,” and that she recently realized that “the structural transformations intended to fundamentally alter decision-making in and for the college cannot be stopped,” according to The New York Times.

The resignation is the second in three months by a prominent African-American administrator at the university. In June, Dr. Claude M. Steele, who was the university’s provost, left to become the dean of Stanford University’s School of Education.

Dr. Sharyn O’Halloran, a political economist who is chairwoman of the executive committee of the University Senate, an elected body of faculty and staff members and students, said she was saddened by the news. Moody-Adams had been involved in discussions about ways to increase faculty input in admissions and curriculum decisions, among other areas, she said.

“I do think everyone viewed her as crucial to leading those conversations,” O’Halloran told The New York Times. “She was brought in from the outside to bring energy into the whole environment.”

The Associated Press and The New York Times contributed to this report.

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