THE SPINE MAY 1, 2008
OK, Lee Bollinger is not a fool. He is not what Lenin called a "useful idiot." Which leaves two alternatives from which I do not have enough evidence to actually decide. But there are enough clues to argue either one or even both. Of course, I've written about Bollinger in the context of the Columbia follies several times.
Columbia shared with Berkeley pride of prime place in the academic mayhem of the sixties. Of course, there was a difference between then and now. Both of these universities were headed by presidents (Grayson Kirk and Clark Kerr) who were trying to resist the imposition of politics on the campus, and didn't quite grasp that they had imposed some of their own. (The same was true at Harvard where a man called Nathan Marsh Pusey presided. But, actually, I think he did not have a clue.)
Bollinger is a completely different type. He wants to be one step ahead of the radical dogmatists now in power here and there, mostly here rather than there, around the campus. Their being in the command posts is another residue of Mario Savio and Mark Rudd.
So what has Bollinger done now? He has appointed John Coatsworth as dean of the Columbia School of Public and International Affairs after serving as interim dean following the debilitating tenure of Lisa Anderson, a true intellectual lightweight (but fashionable political thinker) who I knew at Harvard. I've posted about Coatsworth here previously.
Now the irreplaceable New York Sun has reported this morning about Coatsworth's promotion and about what it means for Columbia. Nothing good.
Of course, Bollinger should go, just on the record. But trustees are slow to move.