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The Columbia Chronicle

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Editorial: Delaying release of final advisory report undermines graduation celebrations for students


Columbia’s Board of Trustees will meet Thursday, May 9 to consider President and CEO Kwang-Wu Kim’s recommendations for how to address the college’s $38 million deficit. 

Ahead of the vote, Kim presented a final advisory report to the executive committee of the board on May 2. 

Even though not required under the college’s Statement of Policy, Columbia’ Faculty Senate had expected Kim to share that report last week. It even set aside the last Faculty Senate meeting to discuss it.

“We had expected to be on more solid footing, have more information and engage in more conversation with the administration before the board voted, and it is a pity to not have had more time to process before we head to Manifest and commencement celebrations,” Faculty Senate President Madhurima Chakraborty, an associate professor in the English and Creative Writing Department, previously told the Chronicle. 

The trustees didn’t want the report released ahead of the meeting. But now their decision about restructuring, layoffs and possible closures of academic programs will come just at the campus should be focused on celebrating its graduating seniors.

This was a mistake. It should have been released to keep the focus on the students ahead of Manifest.  

Of course it’s possible that we won’t know heading into graduation weekend what the board decides. The college could wait to deliver the news after commencement, which would be a bad decision. As we’ve stated in this space previously, we need and deserve transparency about what is happening.

In the initial report released on Feb 28. Kim recommended that the core credits will  be reduced from 42 to 30 credits starting in the Fall 2024 semester. The reduction would lead to layoffs of 11 to 13 full-time faculty members in the English and Creative Writing, Humanities, History, & Social Sciences, and the Science and Mathematics departments. 

The Faculty Senate raised concerns about this in the initial draft report in which they felt there was not enough data to justify the cuts. They argued against making changes too early, which could lead to unintended consequences for the school.

With much anticipation surrounding the future of the college, the delay inherently has now inflicted a dark cloud over Manifest. 

Students deserved better, and  the seniors who have experienced all of the tough challenges from the pandemic, and the historic strike last fall and the ever-changing news about the institution deserved a celebration without the additional worry. 

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