Lamont Weekly Report, September 2 2011

I hope you've been able to dry out since last weekend. Irene cut quite a swath. The city seemed to survive; I live in a high-rise in "Zone B" on the West Side and was watching the storm surge lap up and over the aprons of some of the piers on Sunday morning. By that afternoon, the wind was coming in from the west. Things seemed calm, so I opened a west-facing casement window to get some air. Dumb move: my windows open inward and sure enough every loose thing in my living room got blown away. I had to put on sneakers in order to get enough grip on the floor to push the window closed. Still, I was lucky; I know some of you lost power or were flooded or were stranded somewhere. I'm just glad none of you were hurt.

Dick Greco and his crew were on 24-hour call during the storm, and were busy finishing the cleanup on Monday morning. They just about finished by the time the first bus arrived. A lot of what's needed to keep this campus running gets done under the radar by Buildings and Grounds, so a tip of the hat (and not a wag of the finger) goes out to the B&G gang.

We will work to get better use of our emergency notification system and to publicize our emergency phone numbers and status on our website. Weather-related closings are available on 845-365-8100. Our switchboard number is (still) 845-359-2900 and is answered by an operator during business hours and by the security guard at other times.

We welcomed 62(!) new students to Lamont on Wednesday, ending the day with the picnic out behind Lamont Hall. Apart from the tour and the greetings, it was an opportunity for Peter deMenocal and me to reinforce the symbiosis between DEES and Lamont. I managed to talk to several of the new students at the party, and their enthusiasm about being at Lamont was palpable. I think it's this connection between unvarnished passion and the intellectual arc of Lamont that makes Autumn the most invigorating season.

By the time you read this we will have submitted our 3-year diversity plan to the Provost, and soon it will be posted on our website. I expect that this will be discussed during several of the dean's council meetings this fall. Again, thanks to Kuheli and her task force for producing an excellent piece of work.

Our professional societies and other organizations are convening workshops and visits on Capitol Hill. These visits are important in general, but they are also important to our (Lamont's) specific engagements with Congress, the Executive Branch, and the individual agencies. This is a particularly critical time in the budget cycle. Please let me know as soon as you can if you've been invited or are considering participation; Columbia's government affairs office can be more helpful if we let them know in advance that you are planning a visit.

Geek alert: Google Earth, a 3D mouse, and a large hi-res monitor. Very cool.