Middle East studies in the News
Bollinger Lays Out Goals For New Year
by Rachael Scarborough King
Spectator: First of all, we were wondering if you could talk briefly about some of the major accomplishments over the summer.
Bollinger: Well, I think one of the first is the space. We really worked very hard to develop ... [a] mediate to intermediate space plan. ... Manhattanville is an extraordinarily important project for the University's future. It's not as long-term as many people might think, but we need space really now, and if Manhattanville goes smoothly we're talking about [completing] phase one in five to 10 years. That would be tremendous, but we need space within the next year to five years. So we really worked on this Knox project [renovations to a UTS residence hall] and then all the things that would flow from that for economics, sociology, history, architecture, you know it's the whole set of dominos. The Northwest Corner building is extremely important. In all likelihood this will be the last major building on the Morningside Heights campus. There's always work to be done on Manhattanville. We're preparing for a significant year in which we will go through an environmental review and then hopefully move into the rezoning ... process.
Spectator: Looking at those things, both space for the intermediate and Manhattanville as well, ... what concrete things do you hope to have accomplished by next May? How do you see Columbia really changing?
LCB: What we have done with Economics in expanding the size of the faculty so that there can be more expertise and the department can move into the top five or six in the country, we will continue that but we will also do it with some other departments in Arts and Sciences. I think the scale of Columbia, which I've talked about many times, will continue to unfold and grow.
I think the capital campaign, we hope for an increase, year on year, of maybe 15 percent. We've gone from about $280 million I think was roughly the figure when I started, we're now at $340 million this year. ... In general we expect to move towards $400 million dollars a year. ... Not at the end of this year, but very soon; that's what we have to do.
Spectator: Looking back on the last semester and the controversy over the MEALAC department especially, what have you learned about Columbia and how the institution works?
LCB: That controversy put enormous stresses on the institution and it withstood those stresses. I think everyone wants to find some place—psychologically, emotionally, intellectually—where those kinds of issues are not as raw and as stressful. So I think there is a yearning for a community, a sense of community, and we should respond to that, and I think we have responded to it. Part of it was responding to very unfair characterizations of Columbia from outside, and part of it was grappling with very serious divisions of perception and finding reality and finding common ground inside the institution. And to my mind the community held together and tried to figure out ways to sustain that sense of common purpose over time. ... I think things like the grievance procedures are important not only for providing opportunities for grievances, but as a statement, as a symbol for caring for students who have issues that should be addressed. It's a statement of caring. I think the efforts to provide [a] forum where really hard issues can be worked through in an academic way is a sign, a symbol, of the hope and the wish to have a real intellectual community and there are many other parts of this.
Spectator: Outside of the very formal grievance procedures, which have been said only apply in very certain instances, are there other things you're trying to do to increase those pathways [for students].
LCB: Well, we have this President's Council, and we have the diversity committee, and I think we're all aware that we need to make more efforts to find contacts to interact with students. My own personal view is it's a combination of formal systems and lots of informal systems where you just meet with students and listen to them and pay attention to what they say.
Spectator: [In the past you've] mentioned the things you could do over the next 20 years to make your presidency a good one or a great one. Could you talk about that some more?
LCB: I don't want people to think that I think I'm going to serve for 20 years, so I didn't mean to say in the remaining 20 years of my presidency. ... As I said ... I think that we all want to be a place ... where we have one of the most serious, engaged, meaningful, academic, intellectual places in the world. And the members of our community are committed to that at the very highest levels and achieve in that area of life at the very highest levels. ... Academic excellence is the goal and we need to define and frame that. In order to have that we must have significant more space and it must be space that is open-ended as far as the current members can see. ... At the end of 10 or 20 years, and people we respect will say, that Columbia is a magnificent institution of higher learning and research and of a kind of academic ethos that is what we all seek in life for these institutions. And that is, indeed, Columbia's future in my view.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
Campus Watch contact e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org