Wednesday, July 4, 2012

An Operations Researcher to the Rescue as the Interim Dean of the School of Engineering at Columbia

This past year, there has been major national coverage of various administrative academic dramas in the media, from the resignation and, subsequent reinstatement, of Dr. Sullivan as the President of the University of Virginia (which I was following in Sweden in June) to the resignation of Dr. Pena-Mora, the Dean of Engineering at Columbia University, and the appointment of an operations researcher, Dr. Don Goldfarb, that many of us know professionally, as the Interim Dean. Don, if I may, had been helping out Pena-Mora, according to the Columbia Spectator, as the Executive Vice Dean.

The New York Times has been covering the discord at Columbia and even posted a letter from the senior faculty in Engineering  to the Provost, which notes some of the reasons for the faculty dissension.

Recently, there have been discussions as to how some top administrators are viewed as moving too fast, and some, as not fast enough, in making changes.

Given Pena-Mora's academic background, which includes two graduate degrees, including the PhD, from MIT, in civil engineering, and his productivity, as well as appointments at the University of Illinois, I am rather surprised at the outcome of events. He was born in the Dominican Republic.

According to The New York Times, a demonstration is planned, complete with Al Sharpton, sometime n September, to support Pena-Mora, since some view this as an issue at Columbia with administrators who are minorities (3 such top level ones were appointed by the President, two have left, and now Pena-Mora has resigned).

The posted letter on the link above does provide information, which would be troublesome to many faculty members.

Nice to see an INFORMS member and well-known scholar coming to the rescue of Engineering at Columbia.

In September 2006, I gave a seminar on Dynamic Networks  in the  Industrial Engineering and Operations Research and Decision Science, Risk and Operations Series at Columbia University. My hosts were wonderful and I wish the school well.