Halvorson Steps Down, Limardo to Assume Acting Dean of Students Role

Halvorson Steps Down, Limardo to Assume Acting Dean of Students Role

May 31, 2012

Columbia Crown

Dean Peter Awn announced today that Dean Leslie Limardo will assume the role of Acting Dean of Students while the School of General Studies conducts a search for a permanent Dean of Students. The search will begin immediately. Students are advised to contact their advisors if they have any questions about the transition.

Dean Scott Halvorson’s advisees have been assigned to Assistant Dean Megan Massimiano. To schedule an appointment with Ms. Massimiano, students may call the Dean of Students Office at (212) 854-2881.

On May 3, Awn reported that Dean of Students Scott Halvorson would be “ending his long and distinguished career at GS” to return to his first love, writing. Halvorson earned his MFA at Columbia’s School of the Arts in 2001 with a specialization in screenwriting. He won several awards for his work.

While working on his graduate degree in 1997, Halvorson joined the GS team as Assistant Director of the New York State funded Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) and Manager of the Learning Center. That same year he was promoted to Assistant Dean, where he continued to advise students and also ran the Program for Academic Leadership and Service (PALS), which took the place of HEOP, and the government funded Global Scholars Program. In 2003, Halvorson was appointed Associate Dean of Students by the then Dean of Students, Dr. Mary McGee. On her resignation in 2008, Halvorson was appointed Acting Dean and then in 2010, after a robust search, he was appointed permanent Dean of Students. During his tenure, he has also taught University Writing and courses in the School of the Arts.

Awn noted Halvorson's contributions to the School of General Studies as "profound," and explained that "one need only to speak to the many students and alumni for whom he has been a compassionate and insightful advisor."

Dean Halvorson’s farewell email to students is posted below.


From Dean Scott Halvorson to
School of General Studies Students

May 3, 2012

Dear Students,

After a great deal of deliberation and soul-searching, I write you today to announce that I have decided to leave my position as Dean of Students for the School of General Studies at the end of this month. Needless to say, this has been a difficult decision for me, the most difficult decision of my professional life, and although this announcement may appear sudden to you, it comes only after a period of long but private reflection. Because I know this kind of news can sometimes generate inaccurate speculation, I will try to make it clear (if you are interested) why I have decided to leave Columbia after 15 years.

During my four years serving as Dean of Students, I have learned many things, but what I have learned most of all is that this is an extremely demanding job that requires all of one's concentration, energy, and dedication. I have tried my best to give you these during my time as your Dean of Students. But there is an important part of me that has been set aside these last four years, something that has not withered away or died (though I thought it might) and that is my deep interest in the creative arts. At this moment in my life I have the rare opportunity to pursue the projects that have been whispering in my ear for some time now, despite my dogged attempts to shake them off. For better or for worse, I have decided to pursue these projects now, while I can, and wherever they may lead me. But to do so with the complete commitment that this takes means that I cannot devote the vast time and complete focus that it takes to be the Dean of Students that you deserve, so I will be taking my affectionate leave of you all-- and Columbia--on May 31. I am particularly honored to go out with the indomitable Class of 2012.

It is not easy to put into words what working at GS and Columbia have meant to me these past 15 years. Besides the opportunity of collaborating with some of the best colleagues I have ever had, the greatest reward has been working with you, the amazing students of the School of General Studies. You have taught me profound lessons on perseverance, humility, and the true meaning of academic excellence, lessons that I will never forget. What I will take away with me forever as I leave Morningside Heights are the faces, memories, and stories of all the extraordinary students I have come to know, each one a unique, irreplaceable part of the grand and continuing narrative that is GS.

For many years at our new student orientation I have said that the School of General Studies is nothing less than a noble idea working itself out in the real world. In fact, it is a noble idea working itself out through you, the incomparable GS student, whose immense talent, toughness, good humor, and courage have truly changed the face of education in the Ivy League.

I wish you every good thing at Columbia and for all your lives. It has been my very great privilege and a true pleasure to work for you and with you these past 15 years.

May you continue ever to be "the light that shines in the darkness."

Scott Halvorson
Dean of Students
School of General Studies
Columbia University