The Senate is a University-wide legislature, representing faculty, students, and other constituencies. It makes policy on a range of issues that affect the entire University or more than one school, including educational programs and priorities, the budget, academic freedom and tenure, the conduct of research, the libraries, information technology, Columbia's external relations, student sexual misconduct, rules governing political demonstrations, and the welfare of faculty, students, and research officers. Trustee concurrence is required for acts of the Senate.

The Senate has 108 voting seats, with 63 reserved for faculty, 24 for students, 6 for officers of research,
2 each for administrative staff, librarians, and alumni, and 9 for senior administrators including the president, who chairs monthly plenaries.

For more information, see "Introduction to the Senate."


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Ronald Breslow

March 14, 1931-October 25, 2017

Ronald Breslow, the Samuel Latham Mitchill Professor of Chemistry at Columbia and a University Professor, was a member of the Senate in its earliest days and returned to it at the end of a distinguished career.

Sen. Breslow was a member of the first Senate Executive Committee, and was a candidate for its first chairmanship, losing to the late Wm. Theodore de Bary. As a member of Exec, Sen. Breslow was given the task of flying to the University of California at San Diego to persuade William McGill to take over as president of Columbia. Sen. Breslow served again in 1988-1990, then returned in 2009, chairing the Campus Planning and Physical Development Committee.

Ronald Breslow is considered the father of biomimetic chemistry, a field he named. His research group was interested in the design, synthesis, and study of new molecules with interesting properties. One of his lab’s longstanding programs works to develop novel compounds that induce cells to differentiate. For decades he collaborated with Paul Marks, former president of Memorial Sloan-Kettering, investigating cancer treatments.

Sen. Breslow received his degrees at Harvard and came to Columbia in 1956 as an instructor in chemistry. He remained here the rest of his life, running his lab, teaching, serving on committees — he chaired the group that recommended the College admit women — and generally trying to improve the place any way he could. His students included Nobel Prize winners Robert Lefkowitz and Robert Grubbs, as well as chemistry professor Virginia Cornish, the first woman graduate of the College to become a tenured Columbia professor. His Columbia honors included the Mark Van Doren award for teaching, the Society of Columbia Graduates’ Great Teacher Award, and the College’s Hamilton Medal; in 2016, in celebration of sixty years of teaching at Columbia, the Engineering School alumni association awarded him the Pupin Medal for Service to the Nation in Engineering, Science or Technology.

Columbia College Dean and university senator James Valentini, a chemist and longtime colleague, said in a statement, “Ronald Breslow exemplified the ideal of the teacher scholar — an imaginative research scientist of the first order, an inspiring lecturer in the classroom, a dedicated mentor of undergraduate and graduate students, and a tireless University citizen.”

Sen. Breslow is survived by his wife, Esther, professor emerita of biochemistry at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, and two daughters, Stephanie and Karen.

The next Senate plenary meeting will be on
Friday, November 17,
1:15 p.m.,
104 Jerome Greene Hall.

Here is the agenda.

Anyone with CUID is welcome.



Fridays at 1:15 p.m.
Some locations to be announced.

September 15

October 20

November 17
104 Jerome Greene Hall

December 8
501 Northwest Corner Building

February 2
1501 International Affairs Building

February 23

March 30

April 27
Davis Auditorium, Schapiro CEPSR

Click on dates of past Senate meetings for agendas with links to documents.


September 23

October 21

November 18

December 15 (Thursday)

February 3

February 24

March 31

April 28

Here are agendas of
Senate plenaries
from prior years.


Applications for student media credentials
for Columbia Un
iversity are being accepted now. Download the application form
for media outlets or for freelancers.

The next deadline is November 30, 2017.

For further information, please contact senate@columbia.edu.


At the final plenary of the 2016-17 Senate session on April 28, the Faculty Affairs Committee announced a new statement of the procedures it follows when it investigates faculty grievances. Based on the accounts of grievances in the University Statutes, the Senate By-laws and the Provost's Faculty Handbook, the statement describes the relevant rules, as well as the customs the committee has developed over the years in this work.