President Bollinger's Message to the University on the Appointment of John Coatsworth as Provost

Feb. 17, 2012Bookmark and Share

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

I am writing to say that I have asked John Coatsworth, who has served as an extraordinarily effective interim University Provost since last summer, to continue on as the permanent Provost.

John Coatsworth
John Coatsworth

As Columbia's chief academic officer, the Provost is responsible for ensuring that the University's programs and faculty are of the very highest quality. During the past seven months, John has demonstrated consummate skill in leading Columbia forward on a host of complex matters critical to our future, including the establishment of a Standing Tenure Committee; continued progress on the University's Initiative to Enhance Faculty and Pipeline Diversity; remediation of a structural budget deficit which had long burdened the Faculty of Arts and Sciences; and coordination of Columbia's proposal to New York City for a new Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering. These initiatives reflect John's determination to enlist the resources of the University for the purpose of strengthening partnerships between and among Columbia's distinguished schools and departments, with the goal of making the University and its reputation greater than the sum of its parts.

The many deans, faculty members and administrators who have worked with John in this capacity have found him to be an exemplary partner in advancing these and other initiatives to enhance Columbia's mission and values. With a combination of great intellectual insight and personal grace, he has been able to focus on the critical intersection between academic excellence and the quality of life for faculty, students, and staff. These are challenging tasks for anyone, and John has taken them on with enthusiasm and effectiveness.

In a remarkably short time, John has been a transformational dean at SIPA, leading the school's transition into a fully self-governing unit of the University. I am committed to ensuring that the progress he has made at the school continues and have therefore asked Vice Dean for Academic Affairs at SIPA, Robert C. Lieberman, Professor of International and Public Affairs and Political Science, to serve as SIPA's dean on an interim basis while an advisory group assists us in conducting a search for a permanent dean in the months ahead. An expert in the areas of American political development, social welfare policy and race and politics, Robert has been honored with multiple awards and prizes.John's distinguished background as both a scholar and administrator includes his successful tenure as Dean of our School of International and Public Affairs, a post from which he will now step down. A highly respected expert on Latin American international and economic history, John taught at the University of Chicago from 1969 to 1992, and then joined the Harvard faculty as Monroe Gutman Professor of Latin American Affairs, where he became the founding director of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies. John is a former president of the American Historical Association and the Latin American Studies Association, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Council on Foreign Relations.

I am, personally, very pleased that John will serve in this vital University role and as my colleague. Columbia is such an extraordinary institution, with momentum on so many fronts, and a potential unmatched by any other university in the world, and it is a gift to all of us for John will bring his wonderful talents to bear the work ahead.


Lee C. Bollinger

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