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Columbia University Names Cornell Philosophy Professor and Vice Provost Michele M. Moody-Adams Next Dean of ColumbiaCollege


Robert Hornsby, Columbia University, 212-854-9752,


Columbia University Names Cornell Philosophy Professor and Vice Provost
Michele M. Moody-Adams Next Dean of


NEW YORK (Feb. 26, 2009)—Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger today announced the appointment of Michele M. Moody-Adams as the new dean of ColumbiaCollege. Moody-Adams comes to Columbia from CornellUniversity, where, since 2000, she has been the Hutchinson Professor and Director of the Program on Ethics and Public Life, and has served for the past four years as Cornell’s vice provost for undergraduate education. Moody-Adams succeeds retiring Columbia College Dean Austin E. Quigley. Her appointment begins July 1, 2009.

“Professor Moody-Adams’ extraordinary commitment to teaching, scholarship and public service, as well as her hands-on experience as an academic administrator for undergraduate education, make her uniquely well suited to this new challenge,” said President Bollinger. “Hers is the kind of approach to undergraduate education imagined by Columbians who created and nurtured a Core Curriculum that has called on generations of students to reflect deeply on our shared intellectual traditions, challenge their own preconceptions about the world, remain open to the perspectives of others and grapple with the questions essential to active citizenship in a democracy.”

Professor Moody-Adams is an accomplished scholar and academic administrator who has taught at Cornell, Indiana University, the University of Rochester and WellesleyCollege. She has produced an extensive body of work in moral philosophy. Her 1997 book, Fieldwork in Familiar Places: Morality, Culture, and Philosophy, has been widely praised as “a major contribution to moral philosophy.” She has written and lectured extensively throughout the United States and abroad on a wide range of timely public issues. As an administrator, she has been responsible for ensuring the integrity and coherence of undergraduate curriculum and instruction at Cornell and overseeing a number of academic and residential initiatives. Before that, she was a professor and associate dean for undergraduate education in the College of Arts and Sciences at IndianaUniversity, Bloomington.

“The Columbia undergraduate experience combines the best ideals of a liberal education with the highest respect for cutting-edge scholarship and research,” said Moody-Adams. “I look forward to joining the Columbia community and to taking a leading role in the continuing development of its outstanding undergraduate programs.”

Moody-Adams received B.A. degrees from both WellesleyCollege and OxfordUniversity and went on to earn her M.A. and Ph.D. in philosophy from HarvardUniversity. She has won numerous academic honors, including a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship and a Marshall Scholarship, and has served on the editorial boards of several national and international scholarly journals. She has been recognized by Who's Who Among America's Teachers for her undergraduate teaching, and celebrated as a faculty “Last Lecturer” by the Cornell chapter of the Mortar Board Honor Society.

“Michele Moody-Adams comes to Columbia with an extraordinary background in the administration of undergraduate education,” said Columbia’s Vice President for Arts and Sciences, Nicholas Dirks. “Even as her own scholarship has bridged old debates between timeless universalism and age-specific relativism, she is deeply committed to the traditional mission of general education and the liberal arts in the larger setting of our vibrant and global research University. I am thrilled to know I will be able to work with her in the years ahead.”

Professor Moody-Adams’ husband, James Eli Adams, will join her at Columbia as a visiting professor in English and comparative literature. A scholar of Victorian literature and culture, Adams has been a faculty member in the English department at Cornell since 2000.

“I am so pleased that Michele Moody-Adams is the person who will succeed me as dean of the College,” said Austin Quigley, who retires after 14 years in that position in June. “She has a splendid record of academic and administrative achievement and has all the abilities needed to sustain the momentum of the College’s progress.”

“Michele Moody-Adams’ enthusiasm and intellectual prowess is contagious. ColumbiaCollege students are going to embrace her as one of their own,” said Adil Ahmed (CC’09), who served with Sarah Weiss (CC’10) as the undergraduate students on the search committee. “She showed us that she has a sharp ability to lead and craft a short-term and long-term vision for ColumbiaCollege. She was highly regarded for being open and accessible to students in her tenure at Cornell, and it is individuals like her that make me excited to be active as an alumnus in the coming years.”

“The alumni of ColumbiaCollege have every reason to be proud and excited by the appointment of Michele Moody-Adams as the next dean,” said Geoffrey Colvin (CC’74). “The search process was thorough, and there was consensus on the part of the alumni participants—Jonathan Lavine (CC’88), Lisa Landau Carnoy (CC’89) and me—as well as other members of the committee, that Michele was an outstanding first choice. For so many of us, the intellectual challenges and personal experiences we had at the College helped shape who we are as people, what we do as professionals and why we are active citizens. It’s clear that Professor Moody-Adams has a deep appreciation for the central significance of ColumbiaCollege at the University, and we know that generations of future ColumbiaCollege students and alumni will benefit from her leadership and scholarship.”


About ColumbiaCollege

Moody-Adams will lead one of the oldest American undergraduate colleges, which, with more than 4,000 students, is one of the most selective in the nation. Last year, 9.1 percent of first-year applicants to the College were admitted. In the most recent year, application numbers have increased 16 percent, and this year’s early decision application pool is the largest in Columbia history. The College’s academic program is built on the Core Curriculum, a set of classically based but constantly evolving common courses required of all College undergraduates.

Columbia has long attracted the most socioeconomically diverse student body among Ivy League schools, with a significantly higher percentage of low-income students than most of its peer institutions. To support such educational opportunity, in March 2008 Columbia announced further expansions of financial aid, replacing all need-based loans with grants regardless of family income and eliminating tuition, room, board and fees for undergraduate students attending Columbia College and the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) from families with incomes below $60,000.

Columbia’s undergraduate colleges—the College, SEAS and the School of General Studies—also have the highest proportion (approximately 15 percent) of undergraduates receiving federal Pell grants in the Ivy League and among the nation’s private research institutions (top 25). Pell grants are generally available to students from families earning less than $40,000 per year.


About Columbia University

A leading academic and research university, Columbia continually seeks to advance the frontiers of knowledge and to foster a campus community deeply engaged in understanding and addressing the complex global issues of our time. Columbia’s extensive public service initiatives, cultural collaborations and community partnerships help define the University’s underlying values and mission to educate students to be both leading scholars and informed, engaged citizens. Founded in 1754 as King’s College, Columbia University in the City of New York is the fifth oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. For more information, visit


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