New dean to oversee School of Media Arts

By Managing Editor

Among the recent string of changes in leadership that occurred throughout the summer of 2015, Robin Bargar, former dean of the School of Media Arts, left his post of four years on Aug. 16 and Constantin Rasinariu, former chair of the Science & Mathematics Department, took over as the school’s interim dean, according to a July 20 collegewide email from Stan Wearden, senior vice president and provost.

Bargar said that though he signed a five-year contract as dean, he concluded his term one year early to accept the position of executive director of a university-wide research institute at the University of Salford in Manchester, United Kingdom.

According to Wearden, it is not uncommon for those in administrative positions to end their contracts a year early to take on other professional opportunities.

 “It’s something that he was giving thought to, obviously,” Wearden said. “You reach a point in your career where you want to start exploring other options. I just think the timing was right for him in that way.”

Bargar said he did not agree with some recent changes occurring at the college, and the dean’s office was being excluded from decisions affecting departments he oversaw, making it more difficult to assist them.

“The direction in which the college leadership is going is very different [from] the dean position I accepted four years ago,” Bargar said. “It’s a completely different job now, from what I understand. It’s not a good fit with what I was doing and what I probably should be doing.”

Rasinariu, who chaired the Science & Mathematics Department for nine years, took over as interim dean of the School of Media Arts on Aug. 16. According to Wearden, his responsibilities will include maintaining the stability of the School of Media Arts and helping its chairs to implement the Strategic Plan, identifying qualities desired in a new, continuing dean and planning the future of their departments.

Although his background expertise does not lie within the School of Media Arts, Rasinariu said he does not anticipate any challenges overseeing the school.

“First of all, in any organization, a dean cannot be an expert in all the fields in that place,” Rasinariu said. “But [what] a dean needs to do is have an understanding in the disciplines [and] curriculum of the school, and then run an efficient administration. [That requires the] ability of making quantitative predictions, understanding numbers, setting clear metrics and analyzing and looking at processes, so I would say my scientific background actually helps.”

With Rasinariu’s appointment, all three of Columbia’s schools are now under the leadership of an interim dean. According to Wearden, searches to fill those positions will begin during the 2015–2016 academic year, but the college is deciding whether to launch all three searches at once or to launch two during the 2015–2016 academic year with the third launching after they conclude.

The appointment of three interim deans has caused speculation among members of the Columbia community that the college’s three-school system might be abolished in favor of a restructuring of the college. Wearden said although there could be a change in the three-school system in the future, the administration is far from making any decisions about restructuring.

“We are going to have a conversation about college structure, but it’s in all likelihood not going to happen until next year because we need to talk about universal learning outcomes for all students [and what] our new Columbia core [curriculum] will look like—there’s a lot we need to talk about,” Wearden said. “Once we’ve had those conversations, we’ll start to see new ideas for clusters of programs that could work well together, which will help inform that conversation about structure next year.”