Making Everyone Feel Like They Belong
"During his tenure as dean of the College, Jim repeatedly demonstrated his deep and passionate dedication to our Columbia community, and for this, he was beloved by both the students and his colleagues. He led the College with empathy, conviction and vision, always reminding us to approach any task with humility and the curiosity of a ‘Beginner's Mind.’
"I greatly admire the warmth that Jim brought to campus and his ability to really connect with and excite all the different members of our community. I recall occasions when I watched my students open their email to find out that they had won the lottery to ‘Dine with Deantini,’ and express unmatched enthusiasm. It takes a very special kind of dean to excite the students so much and make themselves so available to connect with them, but that's just who Jim is.
"Personally, I had the pleasure of interacting with Jim on a weekly basis on the Committee of Instruction. He did a brilliant job of making sure that everyone felt they had a safe space to voice their opinion, no matter how eccentric or controversial. His style of leadership made everyone feel like they belonged and that what they had to say was important. And the same was true for me: I did my undergraduate studies at GS, and Jim was absolutely instrumental in smoothing my transition back to Columbia after spending 10 years teaching at Princeton. He made me feel like I had come back home, and for that I will always be grateful."
The Arnold A. Saltzman Professor of War and Peace Studies, and
Director, The Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies