University Senate                                                                                                       April 19, 2004

2003–2004 ANNUAL REPORT OF THE
EXTERNAL RELATIONS COMMITTEE

 

 Social science research

Intensified academic planning stimulated by the Manhattanville project has led the Committee to hold a series of meetings with Vice President of Research David Hirsh and social science researchers from several schools to review key research policy issues. The issues initially addressed have to do with compliance, problems associated with IRB approval, Columbia's restrictions on classified research and research with for-profit organizations, research involving foreign nationals, and publication rights.

            Uptown/Downtown Coordination. One of the key issues for academic planning is the relationship between social scientists in the Arts and Sciences departments and those in the professional schools. Social science research in the professional schools receives
6 to 10 times the funding of social science research in the Arts and Sciences departments.
There are arrangements, for the most part minor and ad hoc in character, that include joint degree programs for students, joint academic appointments, and joint listings of courses. A systematic understanding needs to be developed of the extent to which these two worlds of social science research are complementary, autonomous, or duplicative.

Types of funding. Major social science research in the Arts and Sciences tends to be funded through a research center, rather than through the academic departments. Funding of research in the natural sciences is typically done through the departments. This also contrasts with the way social science research is funded in many of the professional schools. Because social science departments in Arts and Sciences are typically funded through a center, the departments receive few if any overhead funds out of the research of their faculty. This contrasts with the natural sciences and social sciences in professional schools. There are consequences of these forms of funding that should be explored.

Natural science research is under review by a high-level committee; we recommend setting up a parallel committee on social science research. Social sciences, like the natural sciences, are a university-wide matter, not simply an Arts and Science concern. A central administrative University social science council or institute is needed to address social science research issues.

 

Real estate

Columbia’s impact as a property owner on its community has occupied the Committee’s attention. The Committee is working on this in cooperation with community members and with Bill Scott, Deputy VP for Institutional Real Estate, and Carol Shuchman, Director, Commercial Leasing and Development. Local residents are concerned about the lack of grocery and produce outlets and a Columbia-leased store is accused of having poor employee and customer relations policies; in addition, it raised all prices immediately after taking over from the previous owners. Columbia has conducted consumer surveys to determine student and community needs and has worked to meet those needs when their properties are open to lease; however supermarkets are very hard to attract because they require the largest possible spaces, which tend not to be available in Columbia-owned buildings. The Committee plans to investigate development with community groups of a food cooperative.

 

 

Licensees

The Committee has been a forum for the exchange of ideas and information between student activists, the Senate, and the administration concerning Columbia’s relationships with its apparel suppliers. The Committee is considering a request from Students for Economic and Environmental Justice to ask CU apparel manufacturers to supply wage information from their factories in order to effect adherence to minimum wage standards. Such information is already available for those factories that are audited by the FLA or inspected by the WRC. The SEEJ urges that wage information be submitted on a quarterly basis to the WRC by all licensees. The Committee will deliver a recommendation to the Senate.

 

Columbia School

The Committee has examined issues pertaining to the Columbia K8 school for faculty children and local community residents. Several Committee members feel costs are far too high and some action is called for. There has been an announced deficit of approximately 9 million dollars that is very likely to grow as the school expands from K4 to K8. A subcommittee appointed by the Executive Committee, including members of the Budget Review and External Relations committees, has been working closely with the Provost to resolve concerns about the deficit and about admissions criteria. For the time being the Provost has asked that these issues be kept confidential and the subcommittee has agreed. An open discussion will be forthcoming.

 

Smoking policy

The Committee considered a proposal to expand the University’s Smoking Policy, last updated in 1995, to comply with the City’s Smoke-Free Air Act. A stronger policy, preferred by many Committee members, would extend the current ban on smoking to all indoor spaces including personal offices, as well as all outside spaces on campus. The student caucus did not support the strengthened measure, and it was concluded that the current policy is consistent with student and faculty views.