January 28, 2005

 

 

Report of the Research Officers Committee for Increased Representation on Senate Committees

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

This year the Research Officers Committee resumes its quest for representation on six Senate standing committees where Research Officers currently have no seats.   Specifically, we are asking for the addition of one Research Officer seat on each of the following Standing Committees: Executive Committee, Committee on Senate Structure and Operations, Committee on Education, Committee on Budget Review, Committee on Rules of University Conduct, and Committee on Alumni Relations.  Adding Research Officers to these committees will benefit the Senate by allowing us to bring our complementary knowledge and experience to the deliberations of these key committees.  Research Officers represent a constituency of 1800 members (82% with Ph.D.s); and we can be found on all campuses and in almost every department or research center of the University. 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

The University Senate established an Ad Hoc Committee on Research Staff Affairs in January 2001 to (1) investigate the status of Research Officers at Columbia University, and (2) decide whether to recommend a larger role for Research Officers in the deliberations of the University Senate. 

 

After an in-depth study into the number and role of Research Officers at Columbia, the Committee came to the conclusion that Research Officers were seriously underrepresented in the deliberations of the University Senate (http://www.columbia.edu/cu/senate/annual_reports/01-02/ResFinalReport042602.htm).

 

To rectify this, the Committee submitted a detailed proposal to the Structure and Operations Committee requesting changes in the Senate By-Laws and University Statutes that would enlarge the role of Research Officers in three ways:

 

1.   Increasing the delegation of Senators representing Research Officers from 2 to 6;

2.   Creating a nine-member standing Research Officers Committee; and

3.   Adding seats for Research Officers on Senate Standing Committees.

 

A resolution addressing Points 1 and 2 was drafted by Structure and Operations, passed by the University Senate on 1 November 2002, and by the University Trustees in December 2002 and again in March 2003.   The first election to fill the new Research Officer seats was held in October 2003.

 

We now seek to address Proposal 3 above.  Currently, Research Officers have formal representation on the following Standing Committees: Physical Development, External Relations and Research Policy, Honors and Prizes, Libraries and Academic Computing Facilities, and Housing Policy.  Additionally, we have a seat on the Commission on the Status of Women, a long standing special committee appointed by the Executive committee; a seat on the Elections Commission is shared among the Professional Library Staff, Research Officers, and the Administrative Staff; and we have a seat on Online Learning and Digital New Media, another special committee.

 

We continue to strive for representation in Senate deliberations through the formal addition of one Research Officer to each of six Standing Committees on which we currently have no seats.  These committees are Executive Committee, Committee on Senate Structure and Operations, Committee on Education, and Committee on Budget Review, Committee on Rules of University Conduct, and Committee on Alumni Affairs.  These seats will benefit the Senate by allowing us to bring our complementary knowledge and experience to the deliberations of these key committees.  Additionally, as Senators we can vote on resolutions which these Standing Committees draft and bring to the floor of the Senate.  It seems appropriate that we should also be able to play a role in the drafting of these resolutions by sitting on these additional Standing Committees.  With a total of six Research Officer Senators and three non-Senators on the Research Officers Committee, we now have sufficient personnel to fill these new seats which we are requesting.    

 

 

PROFILE OF RESEARCH OFFICERS

 

Research Officers at Columbia number nearly 1800.  Our community is ethnically diverse: 29% Asian, 6% Indian subcontinent 5% Hispanic, and 3% Black. We are 40% female and 60% male. 

 

63% of all Research Officers are located on the Health Sciences campus.   34% are located primarily on the Morningside, Lamont-Doherty, and Nevis campuses.  82% of all Research Officers have Ph.D.s.  Excluding postdoctoral researchers, the average length of service for a Research Officer at Columbia is 8.2 years.


556 of us hold the rank of Senior Research Scientist/Scholar, Research Scientist/Scholar, or Associate Research Scientist/Scholar.  According to the Faculty Handbook, in terms of qualifications and contributions to one’s field, these ranks are equivalent to the rank of Full Professor, Associate Professor, and Assistant Professor, respectively.  There are a total of approximately 3200 faculty members of all ranks at Columbia.

 

In short, Research Officers can be found on every campus and in almost every department or center at Columbia.  31% of us hold ranks equivalent to the faculty of various ranks.  And the 52% who are not postdoctoral researchers have made a long-term commitment to service at Columbia.

 

 

 

COMMITTEE JUSTIFICATIONS

 

Executive Committee

 

“The Executive Committee shall consist of 13 members apportioned as follows: 6 tenured faculty, 2 non-tenured faculty, 2 administrators, and 3 students. All shall be members of the Senate. The two administration representatives shall be the President and another officer of administration of his choice. Elected members of the Executive Committee shall be chosen as follows: each category in the Senate entitled to members on the Executive Committee as here provided shall nominate the requisite number and the membership of the Senate as a whole shall vote on each of the nominees; a nominee who receives a majority of the total number of affirmative votes cast shall become a member of the Executive Committee; if a nominee fails to achieve a majority, the category that nominated him shall nominate another person in his stead. Following the election of the Executive Committee, the Chairman of the Committee shall be nominated and elected from among the tenured faculty members by the Senate as a whole.

 

“The Executive Committee shall be the Senate’s agenda committee and its committee on committees. It may authorize standing committees without regular and recurring duties, if they request to be put on a stand-by basis, to meet once a semester and otherwise be on the call of the Senate or the Executive Committee or of a majority of the Committee concerned as the need for the activity of such committees may arise. The Executive Committee shall have the power to call the Senate into extraordinary session, and shall have such powers, functions and duties as the Senate may delegate to it during periods when the Senate is not in session. The Executive Committee shall serve as a continuing liaison between the University Senate and the central administration. The Executive Committee may create subcommittees and may delegate any of its powers, functions, and duties. The Executive Committee shall participate pursuant to the Statutes of the University and the By-Laws of the Trustees, in the selection of University Professors, the President of the University, the Provost or Provosts, and six Trustees. In performing these functions, the Executive Committee or the appropriate subcommittee thereof shall act in executive session and in a confidential manner and shall not be required to report its deliberations or actions to the Senate as a whole.” (from The By-Laws, Statutes, and Rules of the Columbia University SenateJune 2, 2001).

 

The mandate of the Executive Committee is vast and covers the entire workings of the University Senate.  Research Officers, because we span the entire University, provide a broad and complementary view into the workings and needs of the University.  Additionally, our community is directly impacted by the activities of the Senate and its various committees.  For these reasons, we believe that our constituents should be represented in the process of setting the Senate's agenda and its committee activity.  The mandate of the Executive committee also states that the committee will “serve as a continuing liaison between the University Senate and the central administration.”  Because Research Officers comprise a unique component of the university community that is impacted by the actions of the central administration, we feel that the needs of our constituents should be represented on this committee and that our perspective on administrative issues will be a useful addition to the committee.

 

Committee on Education

     

“The Committee on Education shall consist of 19 members apportioned as follows: 8 tenured faculty, 3 non-tenured faculty, 4 students, 2 administrators, 1 alumnus and 1 library staff. The Committee on Education shall review, and may from time to time recommend, plans and policies relating to the educational system of the University.  The Committee shall receive ideas, recommendations, and plans for educational innovations from members of the faculty and others. The Committee shall inform itself of conditions in the several schools, faculties and departments, and propose measures needed to make the most effective use of the resources of the University for educational purposes.” (from The By-Laws, Statutes, and Rules of the Columbia University SenateJune 2, 2001).

 

Research Officers are the only Senate constituency which does not currently have a seat on the Committee of Education (excepting Administration Staff).  However, Research Officers play an important role at Columbia in education inside and outside of the classroom.  We are involved in the teaching and training of undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers in an academic research environment.  Our experiences can provide a valuable perspective to the Committee when reviewing and recommending plans and policies relating to the educational system of the University. Our experiences will allow us to provide to the Committee “ideas, recommendations, and plans for educational innovations” from a broader perspective, specifically from the standpoint of an active researcher.

     

Additionally, the Committee on Education is charged with creating all new programs, departments, and research institutes at Columbia.  Many of these new departments and research institutes are staffed, in part, by Research Officers.  The actions of the Committee thereby directly impact upon the members of our constituency.  A Research Officer on the Committee will provide a voice for our constituency to present how any such proposed changes will impact Research Officers and the research which they perform at the University.

 

 

 

 

Committee on Budget Review

 

“The Committee on Budget Review shall consist of 11 members, all of whom shall be members of the Senate. The membership of the Committee shall consist of 5 tenured faculty representatives, 2 non-tenured faculty, 2 student representatives, 1 alumnus and the Chairman of the Executive Committee or his designee serving ex officio. The Budget Review Committee shall review the annual budget of the University after its adoption to assure its general conformity with short-range and long-range priorities of the University and expressions of policy by the Senate. The Chairman of the Budget Review Committee or his designee may sit with the appropriate committee of the administration when it formulates its budget policy guidelines for the coming year and when categories of the budget are discussed or adopted. The Budget Review Committee shall report its activities to the Senate and shall bring to its attention any instance of non-compliance of the budget with the existing priorities or policies and any other allocations which, in the Committee’s opinion, are not in the best interests of the University.” (from The By-Laws, Statutes, and Rules of the Columbia University SenateJune 2, 2001).

 

Research Officer’s involvement in Columbia’s research mission provides us with a crucial vantage point on essential workings of the University budget, which can lead to valuable contributions to the work of the Committee on Budget Review.  Furthermore, based on our experience in obtaining external funding for research our input in discussions leading to decision-making, can provide ways to effectively use the resources available to the University.

 

Deliberations by the Committee on Budget Review can have a significant impact on budgetary spending and outcomes that are relevant to all University employees.

Research Officers contribute to proposal-writing and grant acquisitions at Columbia.  We play a significant role in expanding the level of funding available to the University, especially in the form of indirect costs.  Additionally, significant and high-impact research conducted by Research Officers contributes to the high-quality reputation and prestige of the University, thereby increasing the likelihood of acquiring further funding and support.  Research officer also contribute financially, as Principal Investigators (PIs), Co-PIs, and Co-Investigators, to the operating income of the University, supporting faculty, research officers, staff, students, laboratories, infrastructure, and the indirect cost budget.

 

Furthermore, our knowledge and experience cut across the University.  Research Officers can provide an important perspective which is complementary to the current members of the Committee.  For instance, in the 2002-2003 annual report of the Committee on Budget Review (no 2003-2004 report is available online), it was noted that: "Because of the size and complexity of the Health Sciences budget, the committee decided to keep studying it next year."  The Committee further noted that “the University's financial health and management are sound, but we note two areas of concern, namely the overall debt burden and the Health Sciences budget deficit.”  63% of Research Officers are employed at Columbia's Health Sciences campus. This group comprises a sizable proportion of professional employees at the Health Sciences campus and our input into matters such as this would benefit the Committee and the University.

 

Considering the high proportion of Research Officers at Columbia, the significant contribution that this group makes in increasing both the indirect costs and the reputation of the University, and the significant role that this group plays in contributing to the budget of the various campuses, we ask that Research Officers be given a seat on the Committee on Budget Review.

 

Committee on Senate Structure and Operations

 

“The Committee on Senate Structure and Operations shall consist of 12 members apportioned as follows: 6 tenured faculty, 1 non-tenured faculty, 2 students, 2 administrators, and 1 administrative staff. The Committee shall observe and review the operations and effectiveness of the University Senate and make recommendations for the improvement of the structure and operations of the Senate, through statutory amendment and otherwise. The Committee shall be the University Senate’s committee on the Senate’s rules and procedures.” (from The By-Laws, Statutes, and Rules of the Columbia University SenateJune 2, 2001).

 

Our investigations over the last several years have given us a deeper understanding of the structure and operations of the Senate.  We would like to use our experience to contribute to the continued improvement of the Senate and therefore seek a seat on Structure and Operations.

 

The mandate of this committee includes the charge to “observe and review the operations and effectiveness of the University Senate and make recommendations for the improvement of the structure and operations of the Senate”.  Research Officers are a significant component of the university community.  Because the actions of the Senate directly impact our constituents, we feel that Research Officers should be represented on the committee that guides Senate activities.  Given our unique perspective within the university community, we also feel that we will contribute to the review of Senate operations and effectiveness.

 

Committee on Alumni Relations

 

“The Committee on Alumni Relations shall consist of six members apportioned as follows: 1 tenured faculty, 1 non-tenured faculty, 1 student, 1 administrator, and 2 alumni. The Committee shall encourage more effective communication with alumni. The Committee shall stimulate alumni loyalty and support for the University and shall serve as liaison between the University Senate and various alumni groups. The Committee shall work with the administration in the furtherance of these purposes.” (from The By-Laws, Statutes, and Rules of the Columbia University SenateJune 2, 2001).

 

Research Officers play an important educational role at Columbia University.  We interact with undergraduate and graduate students.  We participate in their education both inside and outside the classroom.  We teach courses as Adjunct Faculty members or as guest lecturers.  We provide and mentor opportunities for students to further their studies and experiences in an academic research environment.  In short, every day we deal with students.  We are concerned with their issues and we provide opportunities which help to foster loyalty and support for the University.  Other Senate constituencies which share these concerns and provide similar opportunities currently sit on this Committee.  It therefore seems appropriate that there should also be a seat for a Research Officers on this committee.

 

Committee on Rules of University Conduct

 

“The Committee on Rules of University Conduct shall consist of 15 members apportioned as follows: 4 tenured faculty, 2 non-tenured faculty, 5 students, 2 administrators, 1 library staff, and 1 administrative staff. One of its members shall also be a member of the Committee on Faculty Affairs, Academic Freedom and Tenure, and one shall also be a member of the Student Affairs Committee. It shall have jurisdiction to review and recommend revision of rules of University conduct, as well as the means of enforcing those rules. In matters pertaining to rules of conduct and tribunals for faculty, the Rules Committee shall consult with the Faculty Affairs Committee, and in matters pertaining to such rules and tribunals for students, it shall consult with the Student Affairs Committee. The Committee shall, to the extent appropriate, incorporate its proposals in the form of amendments to the University Statutes and shall submit the same to the University Senate as a whole, to become effective upon adoption by the Senate with the concurrence of the Trustees.” (from The By-Laws, Statutes, and Rules of the Columbia University SenateJune 2, 2001).

 

Research Officers are the only Senate constituency which does not currently have a seat on this Committee.  Yet our constituency is also affected by the Rules of University Conduct.  It is only appropriate that a Research Officer seat should be added to this Committee.  Our members span the entire University.  Our experience is complementary to that of the other constituencies.  And our perspective on the workings of the University will provide an important additional insight into all reviews and proposed revisions to the rules of University conduct. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PROPOSED CHANGES TO THE SENATE BY-LAWS

 

In order to address our desire for a larger, more representative voice in the Senate deliberations, we have developed a set of proposed changes to the By-Laws, Statutes, and Rules of the Columbia University Senate (following the June 2, 2001 Version).  Our draft changes are given below:

 

The first sentence of paragraph (h) (1) of Section 3

      (Executive Committee):

The Executive Committee shall consist of 14 members apportioned as follows: 6 tenured faculty, 2 non-tenured faculty, 1 research officer, 2 administrators, and 3 students.

 

The first sentence of paragraph (h) (2) of Section 3

      (Committee on Education):

The Committee on Education shall consist of 20 members apportioned as follows: 8 tenured faculty, 3 non-tenured, 1 research officer, 4 students, 2 administrators, 1 alumnus, and 1 library staff.

 

The first two sentences of paragraph (h) (3) of Section 3 (Committee on Budget Review):

The Committee on Budget Review shall consist of 12 members, all of whom shall be members of the Senate.  The membership of the Committee shall consist of 5 tenured faculty representatives, 2 non-tenured faculty, 1 research officer, 2 student representatives, 1 alumnus, and the Chairman of the Executive Committee or his designee serving ex officio.

 

The first sentence of paragraph (h) (8) of Section 3

      (Committee on Rules of University Conduct):

The Committee on Rules of University Conduct shall consist of 16 members apportioned as follows: 4 tenured faculty, 2 non-tenured faculty, 1 research officer, 5 students, 2 administrators, 1 library staff, and 1 administrative staff.

 

The penultimate sentence of paragraph (h) (8) of Section 3

      (Committee on Rules of University Conduct):

In matters pertaining to rules of conduct and tribunals for Faculty, the Rules Committee shall consult with the Faculty Affairs Committee; in matters pertaining to rules of conduct and tribunals for Research Officers, the Rules Committee shall consult with the Research Officers Committee; and in matters pertaining to such rules and tribunals for Students, the Rules Committee shall consult with the Student Affairs Committee.

 

The first sentence of paragraphs (h) (9) of Section 3

      (Committee on Alumni Relations):

The Committee on Alumni Relations shall consist of 7 members apportioned as follows: 1 tenured faculty, 1 non-tenured faculty, 1 research officer, 1 student, 1 administrator, and 2 alumni.

 

The first sentence of paragraphs (h) (12) of Section 3

      (Committee on Senate Structure and Operations):

The Committee on Senate Structure and Operations shall consist of 13 members apportioned as follows: 6 tenured faculty, 1 non-tenured faculty, 1 research officer, 2 students, 2 administrators, and 1 administrative staff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Respectfully yours,

 

Sen. Mercy Davidson, Senior Research Scientist, Neurology     (mmd2@columbia.edu)

Sen. Lori Hoepner, Senior Staff Associate, Sergievsky Center   (hoepner@pidata.cpmc.columbia.edu)

Dr. Wahida Karmally, Associate Research Scientist, School of Dental and Oral Surgury

 (wk2@columbia.edu)

Ms. Irene Klotz, Staff Associate, Biostatistics

(rene@shallot.cpmc.columbia.edu)

Dr. Stephanie G. Newman, Saltzman IWPS

(sgn1@columbia.edu)

Sen. Daniel Wolf Savin, Research Scientist, Columbia Astrophysics Laboratory,            Chair (dws26@columbia.edu)

Sen. Christopher Small, Doherty Research Scientist, Lamont-Doherty   (cs184@columbia.edu)

Sen. Cathy Taylor, Postdoctoral Research Scholar, School of Social Work

 (ct2125@columbia.edu)

Sen. Maya Tolstoy, Doherty Research Scientist, Lamont-Doherty

            (Tolstoy@ldeo.columbia.edu)