James J. Valentini was appointed Dean of the College and Vice President for Undergraduate Education in September 2011. Affectionately called “Deantini” by Columbia undergraduates, Dean Valentini has been a member of Columbia’s faculty since 1990 and previously served as chair of the Chemistry Department and director of the Chemistry Department’s Undergraduate Studies Program. He was also instrumental in creating the Science Research Fellows program. Before becoming Dean, Professor Valentini served on numerous College and University committees focused on curriculum matters, undergraduate affairs, alumni relations, and faculty governance, diversity and tenure.
As the chief academic and executive officer of Columbia College, Dean Valentini’s central focus is to support and develop the College so that students and faculty have the best possible experience. The Dean oversees the College curriculum, which includes the Core Curriculum, as well as the academic and administrative services and policies that contribute to the undergraduate experience inside and outside of the classroom. He is a member of the Executive Committee of Arts and Sciences, together with the Dean of the Graduate School and the Dean of the Faculty. The Executive Committee has major decision-making authority for the Arts and Sciences and its constituent schools.
Dean Valentini earned his B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh, his M.S. in Chemistry from the University of Chicago, and his Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, and completed postdoctoral work at Harvard University. He was a member of the research staff at Los Alamos National Laboratory and a professor of chemistry at the University of California, Irvine, before coming to Columbia. He has taught many undergraduate and graduate chemistry lecture courses and developed and taught research seminars for first-year students and seniors. He is known around campus for hosting frequent office hours and “Dine with Deantini” lunches and handing out candy canes in Butler Library during finals weeks.