Friday, September 07, 2007

New Deans Pledge Fight For Space

New Deans Pledge Fight For Space
By Joy Resmovits

Fresh leaders at Columbia’s School of the Arts and School of International and Public Affairs have expressed their intentions to carve a niche for their institutions in the University’s Manhattanville expansion and to increase funding for financial aid.

Over the summer, University President Lee Bollinger announced the appointment of Carol Becker as dean of SoA and John Coatsworth as interim dean of SIPA while a committee continues to search for a permanent replacement for Lisa Anderson.

“I saw a great opportunity to come and help build another school and to come back home to New York,” Becker said of her new position.

Before her appointment, Becker acted as the first female dean of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in more than 100 years. She also served as a visiting professor on a Fulbright scholarship at the Ionian University in Corfu, Greece, and has published several essays and books.

Although she has already replaced interim dean Dan Kleinman, Becker is currently assuming the title from her home in Chicago where she will stay until January to finish a book.

Becker said that the SoA facilities are inadequate for realizing the school’s potential. “The first thing we are interested in is what will be our place in the new Manhattanville project,” she said.
Unlike at other graduate schools in the University, most SoA students pay full tuition. “We know that there have been issues with financial aid,” Becker said. “Columbia will help support the school more in terms of financial aid.”

Becker added that she wants to increase SoA’s presence within the University and the city. “I don’t think they [the city of New York] yet know what a fantastic jewel the School of the Arts is. The city of New York needs to know that,” she said.

Coatsworth, who comes into the position as a visiting professor at Columbia and is an expert in the political economy of Latin America, was formerly director of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies. He has also served as chair of the history department of the University of Chicago and as a professor of history at Harvard University.

On a semester-long sabbatical from Harvard, Columbia administrators invited Coatsworth to work as a professor. By last spring, he was planning to stay at Columbia as director of the Institute of Latin American Studies. “I had some experience working with University leadership, when quite suddenly I was invited to become acting dean for the current academic year while the University finishes its current search for the new dean,” he said.

Coatsworth said he will not be a part of the search committee nor is he vying to turn his interim post into a permanent one. After his stint as SIPA dean, he said he plans to resume his post in the Institute of Latin American Studies. Meanwhile, ILAS has been temporarily placed under the direction of Jose Moya, a Barnard history professor.

During his limited time as SIPA dean, Coatsworth said he plans to examine the current curriculum and other programs that have not been evaluated in a long time and to lay the foundations for SIPA’s move to Manhattanville. “We need to figure out what kind of a professional school SIPA needs to evolve into and where it should be located,” he said.

Joy Resmovits can be reached at

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