Suzanne Goldberg, a Columbia law professor and a nationally recognized expert on gender and sexuality law, has been appointed executive vice president for university life, a new position that is intended to be a primary point of contact between students and the University administration on issues that affect the entire student body; to provide a focal point for engagement in the University’s intellectual life; and to promote participation and citizenship in the University community.
“I make this appointment with great enthusiasm,” says President Lee C. Bollinger, who announced Goldberg’s appointment in January. “This newly created position fills an important need at the University and will elevate the quality of life of students, faculty, and staff — indeed, everyone in our community — for years to come. Suzanne Goldberg is an exceptional leader and colleague, and precisely the right person to realize the promise of the new office. We are fortunate she has agreed to take on the responsibility.”
According to Columbia officials, the executive vice president for university life will facilitate campus-wide conversations on a wide variety of issues, whether involving people’s experiences on campus or their thoughts about events taking place in the broader world. This could pertain to gender-based and sexual misconduct; race relations; civil rights and policing; terrorism and counterterrorism efforts; and many other topics.
The creation of the new EVP position, say University officials, was inspired partly by the intense debate that has taken place on US college and university campuses over the past year about how higher-education institutions ought to be dealing with sexual assaults.
Columbia instituted many changes to its own sexual-misconduct policies last year in response to student criticisms; Goldberg served as a point person in discussing those changes with students, having been appointed a special adviser to the president on sexual-assault prevention and response last summer. (To learn about the University’s updated sexual-violence policies, visit sexualrespect.columbia.edu.)
“Students deserve a lot of credit for prompting the University to examine how we address gender-based and sexual misconduct on campus,” says Goldberg. “The University is now devoting an extensive amount of attention and resources to combating sexual violence, and our efforts are being undertaken in close partnership with students.”
Moving forward, Goldberg says, the newly created Office of the Executive Vice President for University Life will work with students to learn of any similar concerns that arise and develop strategies for addressing them.
“It all starts with communication,” she says. “My goal is to coordinate conversations across as many different groups of students, faculty, and staff as possible, in order to ensure that Columbia is maintaining an optimal learning environment for all of its students.”