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Omar Abboud, (646) 330-3310,
Malini Nambiar, (301) 639-7921,
Jared Odessky, (954) 770-9404,
Last semester, elected student representatives and student group leaders from across
campus were invited separately to take part in the search process for the Dean of
Undergraduate Student Life. After an extensive process of resume reviews, interviews,
discussion, and report-writing, these two groups of students independently made
unanimous recommendations to Deans Valentini and Boyce supporting the selection of a
single candidate from among three finalists. It is clear to us that this candidate never
received an offer.
Last Monday, CC and SEAS students were notified via email that Cristen Kromm, the
associate dean of residential life, had been named to the position. Dean Kromm has been
an advocate for students in various arenas. We are excited to see that she has already
begun soliciting student feedback about key issues, and we all look forward to working with
her to enhance student life at Columbia in the months and years ahead. Our concern is not
with her, but rather, with the value that Columbia assigns to student voices in its search
processes and its decision-making in general.
When students unanimous recommendations are ignored, we cannot stand by and let our
peers believe that student voices in the process were invaluable. Collectively, we have
been involved in numerous search processes over the years. Many of us have advocated
vigorously for outstanding external candidates only to see an internal candidate appointed
almost every time. With issues in the past, we were careful not to speak out about our
concerns too publicly so as not to jeopardize opportunities for students to be included in the
future. We also recognized that for many positions, students were one part of a
constituency that also consisted of faculty and staff, and so our thoughts were not final. But
in selecting the Dean of Undergraduate Student Life, student voices should have been
prioritized. Since the evidence clearly demonstrates that student input is already of no
consequence in search processes, we feel there is little risk in speaking up and asking for
The futility of this search came at a cost for all students. Columbia spends tens of
thousands of dollars on executive search firms for almost every opening, funds that could
be going back to enriching our campus and opening up more opportunities for students to
attend. We can all agree that the University should be seeking to find the best talent, but
when the process has repeatedly been used to validate internal candidates rather than to
make an informed selection, it is difficult to believe that the goal in using these firms is really
to find the best person for the job.
Columbia students are deeply dedicated to enhancing co-curricular opportunities for our
peers and fostering a supportive community. As students ourselves, we directly experience
the challenges and opportunities Columbia offers and are ultimately the most connected to

the student experience. We hope that in future hiring decisions, the needs and voices of
students will be prioritized.
Omar Abboud, SEAS16
Peter Bailinson, CC16
Allie Carieri, CC15
Adam Chelminski, SEAS17
Yilma Choudhury, CC15
Fatimatou Diallo, CC15
Marc Heinrich, CC16
Tammuz Huberman, CC15
Malini Nambiar, SEAS15
Jared Odessky, CC15
Jillian Ross, SEAS16
Ari Schuman, CC15
Mandeep Singh, CC15
Sejal Singh, CC15
Ramis Wadood, CC16
Brian Wu, SEAS15