Following months of friction with faculty and students, the dean of Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Sciences issued his resignation. When hired, the dean, Feniosky Pena-Mora, was a high-profile addition to the university, however his management style quickly ran afoul of Columbia’s academic culture.
Pena-Mora was accused by faculty of letting funding considerations influence hiring and promotion decisions. Additionally, Columbia’s longstanding problem with available space led to accusations of dishonesty from graduate students and teaching assistants who were recruited with the promise of research space.
Pena-Mora was the subject of two separate no confidence statements, one from the engineering school’s department chairs and another from the tenured faculty. Despite the problems with faculty and students, Pena-Mora’s tenure at Columbia has drawn support from community leaders who feel that Columbia is hostile to minorities.
In June, New York City Councilman Ydanis Roudriguez, 19 other elected representatives, and the Rev. Al Sharpton signed a letter expressing concern about Pena-Mora’s job security. Rodriguez and Sharpton are also planning a rally in September in support of Pena-Mora.
Despite an early exploration of online education with the launch of Columbia Interactive and Columbia University Digital Knowledge Ventures in 2005, the only online classes currently being offered by the university are through the school’s Teachers College. The Teachers College offers an intensive master’s degree and three professional certificates, all of which are focused on integrating technology into the classroom.
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