Carter outlines ‘core values’ for trustees

By Thomas Pardee

Columbia president Warrick L. Carter delivered his quarterly president’s address to the Board of Trustees on Oct. 2, emphasizing what he called the college’s “core values.”

Carter spoke in the University Center’s Lake Room, 525 S. State St., to 48 trustees and other event attendees. The trustees attended an “idea hour,” consisting of poetry discussions and performance art pieces, before retreating into their closed-door meeting.

Carter said although Columbia encourages positive progress, the college can’t abandon the tenets it has always stood for.

“Create change-you’ve probably heard that somewhere, but keep in mind you heard it here first,” Carter said. “Here at Columbia, ‘change’ is more than a political campaign slogan. The theme of change and the dynamics of change have been fully- integrated into our institutional character … [But it] should not obscure the observation that we also have core values that have not changed.”

Academic freedom

“Teachers can’t use their captive audiences to promote ideas outside the subject matter of their classes. For example, faculty must make it clear when discussing public controversies that they are speaking for themselves and not for the institution. But the fundamental principle that no teacher will be punished for speaking what may be an inconvenient truth is a core value at Columbia.”


“For us, the spirit of [how educators interact] is just as important as the outward signs of it. Collegiality is what puts a smile on everybody’s face when they cross the street, and it’s the reason why most of us are on a first-name basis as we speak to each other.”


“We’ve created a system that values transparency as the fundamental ‘best practice.’ It ensures that our policies are developed according to the fine principals laid down in our bylaws.”

Access and affordability

“Over the years we’ve always taken pride in what we call ‘open admissions.’ We always recognized the ethical negatives of taking students’ money whether or not they could actually be successful here at the college. We now have … redefined our approach as ‘generous admissions.’ But we have always developed an admissions policy to ensure the principles of access.”


“You don’t participate and practice diversity as an act of charity. Diversity is really in our DNA [at Columbia]. We’ve never needed to resort to affirmative action here, because we’ve always practiced diversity. It’s not just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do.”

The urban priority

“Columbia conducts our education in close relationship with the urban reality that serves an important civic purpose by active engagement in the life and culture of the city. …None of us are working in an ivory tower. We’re connected to the urban reality of one of the world’s greatest cities.”

Respect for the creative mind

“For students to take the leadership positions in the years ahead, they need the team-building, problem-solving, original-thinking skills that are inherent in an arts education. Columbia has always valued and helped to develop these skills and these values.”