Columbia Dean Feniosky Pena-Mora Resigns

By Emily Frost on July 3, 2012 4:34pm | Updated on July 3, 2012 5:34pm

Columbia School of Engineering and Applied Science Dean Feniosky Peña-Mora resigned Tuesday.
Columbia School of Engineering and Applied Science Dean Feniosky Peña-Mora resigned Tuesday.
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UPPER WEST SIDE — Feniosky Peña-Mora, Columbia University's dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, resigned Tuesday after months of tense relations with the faculty.

In a letter to School of Engineering and Applied Science students, faculty and staff, the university's president Lee C. Bollinger and its provost, John H. Coatsworth, said Peña-Mora submitted his resignation, according to Bwog, a blog that covers university issues.

"We thank Professor Peña-Mora for his service as Dean and look forward to his future academic contributions as a faculty member in the fields of civil engineering and engineering mechanics, earth and environmental, and computer science," the letter read, according to the blog.

Columbia University did not respond immediately to a request for comment. 

Longtime SEAS professor Don Goldfarb will serve as interim dean, effective July 1, as a result of Peña-Mora's resignation, the school's website announced Tuesday.

In May, the Columbia Spectator reported that 90 percent of the tenured faculty at the School of Engineering and Applied Science cast a secret vote of "no confidence" in Peña-Mora, who has been at the school since 2009. The faculty's chief concerns were loss of space at the school and a decline in the quality of the faculty and students' education, the Spectator reported.

Students rallied in support of the dean in May with rally organizers pointing to his success in raising the profile of the school. 

After Peña-Mora resigned Tuesday, Washington Heights City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez expressed his support for the embattled dean, who was born in the Dominican Republic and has lived in Washington Heights.

"We believe that Columbia has proven one more time that it has issues keeping people of color in leadership positions," Rodriguez told DNAinfo New York.

Rodriguez praised Peña-Mora for increasing enrollment at the School of Engineering and Applied Science and for increasing the number of minority students and faculty members.

"We stand 100 percent behind him," Rodriguez said.

A community meeting in support of the dean is scheduled for July 11 at 115th Street and Broadway at 6:30 p.m., Rodriguez said.

And on Sept. 12, Rodriguez and other leaders have planned an evening rally in support of Peña-Mora and to voice concerns about how Columbia University has dealt with people of color in leadership positions, he said. 

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