Interim provost ranks programs, proposes new departments

By Heather Scroering

The Center for Black Music Research has been at Columbia since 1983. Producing several publications, possessing a vast research collection of black music of the United States and African diaspora and host of many national and international conferences, the CBMR is one of a kind.

However, while funding is becoming more pressing with the decline of enrollment and the rise of student debt, the CBMR is at risk of disappearing from Columbia’s campus forever as the prioritization process begins to wrap up.

The CBMR is not the only program up for elimination. Others include the Chicago Jazz Ensemble and the Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women & Gender in the Arts & Media, according to academic program recommendations made by Louise Love, interim provost and vice president for Academic Afairs. She added that cuts and layoffs will follow if her recommendations are approved.

“It’s not easy at all for me to make recommendations that would eliminate units that I value,” Love said in a frank, 30-minute interview regarding her prioritization recommendations. “I know they’re doing wonderful work, but this is what the whole exercise was about.”

After two-and-a-half months of reviewing approximately 200 academic program information requests—informational forms filled out by chairs and center directors of every department and office on campus as part of the yearlong prioritization process—Love’s recommendations were published Feb. 28 the prioritization section of IRIS, the website for Columba’s faculty, staff and administration.

The prioritization process, which began in the fall, is evaluating every aspect of the college, both academic and non-academic, in order to reallocate funds and determine the future of academic programs, clubs and other student services.

Love suggested 28 programs for the “increase resource” category; 76 for “maintain resources;” 16 for “decrease resources;” 57 for “combine/restructure resources;” and 21 for “phase out/eliminate.”

Using recommendations from chairs and deans, she also blueprinted a plan that restructures curriculum, creating new departments and programs.

In the School of Fine and Performing Arts, Love suggested the creation of a new Design Department for visual communication as well as a Photography and Fine Arts Department that will bring together art and design, art history, commercial photography, fine arts, photography, photojournalism and illustration.

For the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, plans to construct a Humanities Department that will house American sign language and English interpretation, first-year writing, humanities, literature, oral communication, black world studies, cultural studies and Latino/Latin American studies are drafted in her summary.

Love recommended a new Internet Media Production Department that will offer Internet and mobile media, production and directing, post-production effects, radio, writing and producing, motion graphics, non-linear editing and writing for television.

Plans to establish a Creative Writing Department were also proposed, but programs to be offered in the department were not developed in the recommendation and were listed as “to be discussed.”

In the introduction to Love’s recommendations summary, she said student-centeredness and serviceability were the impetus for creating new departments and programs.

“By continuing to focus on student success and creating innovative curricular pathways, the college is poised to enter a new level of institutional maturity recognizing that Columbia has become a destination school, attracting students from across the country, and now, around the world,” she said.

Love also said the college has begun to focus more on retention, which has been “higher than ever,” rather than the number of students admitted.

Another suggestion she made was to realign and connect graduate programs to undergraduate programs so students can be a resource to each other and have access to all faculty members.

Love said she hopes to see programs for arts therapy in the future as well as the college becoming the center for a teaching artists program.

“Bringing together the various programs at Columbia that have to do with the teaching artists because we’re just surrounded by teaching artists, I want those together to really make this a signature program for Columbia,” Love said.