A True Listener
“Working with Dean Valentini this last decade has been great. He has been a wonderful advocate for students, faculty and staff and he helps all who work with him see ideas from different perspectives. Jim always asks lots of questions and encourages us to see opportunities and be aspirational. He also always asks staff what they think about issues.
Jim likes chit chat, and we talk about family, pop culture and Formula 1, of course. My favorite attribute might be his humility — not just because it’s refreshing, but because it means he has a great sense of humor, can laugh at himself and doesn’t mind when his all-female senior staff tease him.
“Dean Valentini was quick to see the importance of summer opportunities, internship experiences and experiential learning as part of the student experience. He leads by example, and he sought to understand the work of CCE by sitting in on student workshops and hearing about their experiences directly, attending career fairs to meet employers and students, and engaging the CCE staff. Having the dean show such a keen interest in learning about the work of CCE, meeting the team, and participating in events is motivating and made him a favorite. In turn he has been able to support positive change for undergraduate students in the career development space.
“When Jim became dean, I was recovering from being hit by two cars (which we still joke about!). I will always remember the kind email he sent, even though he had never met me. Says a lot about him, how he operates and his genuine care for people. If I walk College Walk with Dean Valentini, we always stop to chat with students, and he remembers everyone’s name and story. It’s quite something. He is a true listener and people person, and such a chemistry nerd — he loves his chemistry! I am also an F1 fan, so it’s nice to have someone to chat with about the races and drivers.
“Under Jim’s leadership we have had many firsts. My Columbia College Journey has helped tie the curricular and co-curricular life of students together. Our work in CCE is focused around student skill building and identifying transferable skills, so to have a framework like My CC Journey championed by the dean, and endorsed by faculty and alumni, has reinforced, validated and supported our work. Being staff-centered and rolling out an annual staff retreat is something I really value and appreciate. Spending a day with my College colleagues focusing on what it means to support students, faculty, parents, alumni and each other is so important to the work we seek to do together. Finally, initiatives to enhance student support, like financial aid, summer experiences and student well-being have been championed under Jim’s leadership. These are critical to student success, and have wide-reaching support among staff.”
Dean, Center for Career Education