Columbia Climate School Leadership Announcement
Since April 2021, the Columbia Climate School has operated under an unusual leadership model, with four co-deans, Alex Halliday, Jason Bordoff, Ruth DeFries and Maureen Raymo, sharing responsibility for leading the development of key functional areas of our pioneering new School. . They have each taken on the climate school mission in addition to their existing portfolios—Alex at the Earth Institute; Jason as head of the Center on Global Energy Policy at the School of International and Public Affairs; Ruth as a university professor and Denning Family Professor of Sustainability in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology; and Maureen at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
I extend my sincere thanks to each of the co-deans for their outstanding contributions to the School as leaders, scholars and innovators. Launching a new school, the first at Columbia in 25 years, is a considerably difficult task. All four approached this challenge with great determination and character. Their commitment to collaboration and outreach furthered a school’s dream. All understood the need to connect the University’s intellectual assets to meet one of the world’s greatest challenges.
The leadership structure of the School’s co-deans reflected this premise of connection. Leading four of Columbia’s most distinguished climate experts, representing diverse areas of expertise, has made it easier for us to utilize the range of disciplines needed to address the climate problem and has created a strong foundation on which the school can flourish. Our co-deans welcomed the first cohort of students in September 2021 and in May celebrated our second cohort of dedicated graduates. All aspects of a successful school are now in place.
The progress made by these four Deans in establishing a foundation for the new School has positioned us well, allowing us to now embrace a unique leadership model. To that end, we will soon launch the search for a Dean to lead the School into its next phase of growth. Alex, Jason, Ruth and Maureen strongly championed, built and led the Climate School. Without them, there would be no climate school. I ask you to join me in recognizing their important contributions and thanking them for getting us to where we are today. With this shift to a single leader model, we are creating the space for them to once again focus on their academic work and other leadership endeavors. I would add that they have all graciously agreed to continue to support the School throughout this transition and will remain professors at the School of Climate in their respective fields.
To ensure the continuity of the School of Climate, and in close consultation with the new President of the University, Minouche Shafik, I am pleased to announce that Jeffrey Shaman has agreed to step in as Interim Dean. Jeff will officially start on July 1, but is already taking on additional responsibilities and working with co-deans to ensure a smooth transition. Jeff is a professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences and director of the Climate and Health Program at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, and professor of climate at the Climate School. Jeff will build on the School’s foundations to accelerate impact and transition to this expanded role from his current position as Associate Dean of Faculty Affairs at the Climate School, where he has been a key leader and faculty supporter.
Please join me in thanking Alex Halliday, Jason Bordoff, Ruth DeFries and Maureen Raymo for their pioneering work on behalf of the School of Climate and in welcoming Jeff Shaman as he assumes leadership of the School. .
Lee C. Bollinger is the president of Columbia University.