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Moving the Priests Around: Columbia To Reassign Deans at Center of Texting Scandal

By Aaron Sibarium


Columbia University will not fire the four deans who exchanged caustic and derogatory text messages during an alumni panel on anti-Semitism, opting instead to reassign three of them while letting the most senior administrator, Columbia College dean Josef Sorett, remain in his post, according to three people familiar with the university’s decision and an announcement from university president Minouche Shafik.

Sorett’s subordinates, Susan Chang-Kim, Cristen Kromm, and Matthew Patashnick, who exchanged the bulk of the messages, will be removed for their positions and reassigned, the people said. Sorett was allowed to remain in his post on the condition that he issue a full-throated apology for his role in the exchange and undergo anti-Semitism training, according to a source familiar with the matter.

“I continue to learn from this experience and understand the impact that my texts, as well as those between my staff, have had on our community,” Sorett said in the apology, sent Monday morning. “We must and will do better, on behalf of the entire Columbia community.”

Shafik informed Columbia trustees of the decision on Sunday, sources told the Washington Free Beacon. Shafik and her deputy, Columbia provost Angela Olinto, sent a university-wide email on Monday addressing the incident and outlining the administration’s response.

Though the email said that Chang-Kim, Kromm, and Patashnick would “remain on leave at this time,” they will be reassigned to new roles pending the completion of an investigation, sources familiar with the matter said. A spokeswoman for Columbia, Samantha Slater, declined to comment, referring the Free Beacon to Shafik and Olinto’s message.

The sanctions stop short of demands from over 1,000 students and alumni who signed a petition last week calling for the dismissal of all four administrators involved in the text exchanges.

“All four of the deans implicated must be held accountable and terminated,” the petition read. “Columbia University must deliver an immediate and unambiguous message that antisemitism will not be tolerated.”

Instead, Columbia will require all faculty and staff to complete a “new antidiscrimination training,” developed by the provost’s office, that “includes antisemitism training,” Shafik and Olinto said Monday…


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