The week began with two days of meetings in College Station on the future of ocean drilling. This was an opportunity for me to spin up on some of these issues, to meet some of the leadership of IODP facilities, and to reconnect with a long-time colleague, Kate Miller, who is now TAMU's Dean of the College of Geosciences. Like all major facilities
and science programs, IODP is being examined from scientific and management perspectives. If you're asked, or are interested, get involved in the discussion. It's an important time for the program.
Luckily, Continental gave me an upgrade to the next-to-last row in business class. Business class travel is its own satire: upon reaching 10,000 feet, all the businessmen (all men this time) whipped out their iPads and noise-cancelling headphones to watch B-grade movies or play solitaire. (Why you need headphones to play solitaire is beyond me.)
Looked like a convention of space pilot wannabees. Me, I tuned in to the seat-back screen and watched the Yankees blow a four-run lead in the 8th. No sound required.
The Council of Deans meeting on Wednesday was a long, profound, and deeply moving discussion about the return of ROTC to Columbia. The expulsion of ROTC from Columbia more than 40 years ago was a defining moment in the late sixties. On the surface, this might not seem to have a lot to do with Lamont. However, to me at least, it was a window into
the way the senior leadership of the university identifies, deconstructs, and moves extraordinarily contentious and sometimes emotional issues toward resolution. If something related to Lamont needed to be discussed at this level, it would be a high bar indeed, but worth it.
On a related note, all benefits-eligible officers should have received an email from the Provost's office with a link to the draft report on benefits. You should take the time to download and read the draft. We have been asked to arrange a town hall to discuss the report, which Bev is in the process of scheduling.
I have had the happy task this week of notifying several young scholars that they will be receiving offers of a Lamont Post Doc Fellowship. We will issue a memo listing the recipients and their proposed work as soon as we complete this year's class. However, I want to thank Lex van Geen and the Post-Doc committee for the superb job they've done identifying leading candidates.
The Earth Institute and the EPA are co-hosting a 40th Anniversary celebration - The Path to a Sustainable Future: Public Health and the Environment - on April 15, 2011. The EPA began its work in December, 1970, in the Nixon administration. I'll leave the irony about its present difficulties to another time. An RSVP is required, and check out this link for details: http://www.earth.columbia.edu/calendar.
SEARCH UPDATE: The Lamont Director Search Committee met on Morningside on Thursday, April 7th, and will meet again at Lamont on Tuesday, April 19th. We are making good progress on building the candidate list. I will be releasing the "official" call for nominations from our community in the next few hours. As always, send comments, ideas, and nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.