Michele M. Moody-Adams

From WikiCU
Jump to: navigation, search
Michele M. Moody-Adams

Michele M. Moody-Adams (sometimes simply known as MMA or MiMoo on Bwog) was the 15th Dean of Columbia College, having succeeded Austin Quigley on July 1, 2009. She was the first woman and first African-American to hold the post. She announced her resignation on August 21, 2011, citing structural changes to the Faculty of Arts and Sciences which would have reportedly marginalized the decision-making power of the College deanship, with which she strongly disagreed. Moody-Adams continues to hold a post in the Philosophy Department.


Moody-Adams graduated from Wellesley College in 1978 with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. She attended Somerville College at the University of Oxford on a Marshall Scholarship and received a B.A. in philosophy, politics, and economics in 1980, and went on to earn Ph.D. in philosophy from Harvard University in 1986. Moody-Adams wrote her dissertation on “Moral Philosophy Naturalized: Morality and Mitigated Skepticism in Hume” under the supervision of philosopher John Rawls. Before coming to Cornell in the fall of 2000, Moody-Adams worked at Indiana University, Bloomington as associate dean for undergraduate education.

Academic career

Moody-Adams is currently the Joseph Straus Professor of Political Philosophy and Legal Theory. Moody-Adams is accompanied to Columbia by her husband, James Eli Adams, a Victorianist who will teach in the English Department.

She is said to be a strong supporter of the Core Curriculum.

Prior to her accepting the deanship, Moody-Adams was the Hutchinson Professor and Director of the Program on Ethics and Public Life at the Sage School of Philosophy at Cornell, where she was also the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education.


See main article: Moodygate
This flowchart made for the website IvyGate was used to summarize the administrative changes that may have contributed to Moody-Adams' decision to leave the deanship[1]

On August 21, 2011, the following email was leaked to Bwog and Spectator from an anonymous alumni tipster. The email is reportedly from Dean Moody-Adams to an undisclosed list of alumni announcing her resignation from the post of dean:

Dear Friends,

It is with a very heavy heart that I send you this news. Columbia University has begun plans to transform the administrative structure in Arts and Sciences. The planned changes will have the effect of diminishing and in some important instances eliminating the authority of the Dean of the College over crucial policy, fund-raising and budgetary matters.

During my tenure as Dean, I have repeatedly voiced concern that changes of this kind will ultimately compromise the College’s academic quality and financial health. In my time here, I have quietly and respectfully sought the counsel of many of you about how to have my voice heard. I believed until very recently that, given the quality of my contributions to Columbia and the success of many of my efforts here, my concerns might be taken seriously. Just a very few days ago, it was made clear to me that the structural transformations intended to fundamentally alter decision-making in and for the College cannot be stopped.

Because I cannot in good conscience carry out a role that I believe to be detrimental to the welfare of the College, I have submitted my resignation as Dean of Columbia College, effective June 30, 2012. In my final year as Dean, I will work towards a seamless transition and continue to adhere to the values that I have promoted for 27 years in higher education: academic excellence, professionalism at every level of the organization, administrative transparency and fiscal responsibility. On July 1, 2012 I will look forward to strengthening my connections to my tenure home in Philosophy as the Joseph Straus Professor of Political Philosophy and Legal Theory.

I believe in offering my best as an administrator, educator and scholar and in doing the right things by the constituents I serve. Columbia is developing a structure that will no longer allow me to do that as Dean. I nonetheless thank you for your support during my tenure as Dean.

Sincerely Yours,

Michele M. Moody-Adams[2]

The morning of August 22, the Office of Public Affairs confirmed that Moody-Adams was resigning. However, they said that it had been decided that her resignation would be effective immediately, stating "it is in the best interests of the College and the University that she step down immediately so that we can have an Interim Dean in place at the beginning of the new academic year."[3]

Moody-Adams' resignation followed on the heels of that of Provost Claude Steele, raising suspicion that structural changes were creating broader waves of dissension and discontent among senior administrators. Some Columbia faculty, notably political scientist Frederick C. Harris and Journalism School professor June Cross, insinuated to the New York Times that the resignations showed signs of racial bias lurked in the upper echelons of the Columbia administration,[4] but these ideas were met with extreme skepticism by most readers.[5]

External links

Preceded by
Austin Quigley
Dean of Columbia College 
Succeeded by
James Valentini