A Holistic Vision
"Jim Valentini has brought to the deanship of the College a holistic view of Columbia and its moving parts. Within the College he has emphasized the incalculable value of inclusiveness, from the makeup of the student body to the Core to Commencement effort to make all aspects of the College experience accessible. This includes, notably, the summers between academic semesters, which Jim has worked to raise funds for so that students without independent means can enjoy the privilege of volunteering or can accept a pittance for important work.
"Jim’s vision is holistic, too, in his conviction that real academic quality derives not from the sum of institutional parts but as the product of their fruitful interaction. The common assumption that College administrators focus on students while faculty concerns reside in the Arts and Sciences misses the essential productivity of their shared enterprise. In his tenure as dean of the College (and VP of undergraduate education), Jim has collaborated with faculty on academic initiatives of all sorts, as well as on matters of faculty governance, generating in the process an unprecedented ethos of transparency and trust between faculty representatives and members of the administration. If harnessed, this emergent synergy has the potential to make a lasting difference in institutional processes. By contrast, any organizational structure that folds the College dean’s academic portfolio into that of another position will eliminate a vital intellectual and institutional perspective; limiting the dean’s charge to “the care and feeding of students” will undermine the academic integrity of our enterprise as a whole.
"As an alternative to the growing cynicism on university campuses, Jim Valentini reminds his interlocutors of Beginner’s Mind. It’s what keeps him open to wonder. He is principled and tireless, as well, not to mention fearless: He speaks truth to power. How many of us can say the same?"
The Jesse and George Siegel Professor Emerita in the Humanities