Report of the Structure & Operations Committee

Columbia University Senate: 2007-08


Membership: Paul Duby (Engineering), Karl Kroeber (A&S); Debra Wolgemuth (P&S); Jennifer Bell (P&S, nonsenator); Daniel Savin (A&S/Astrophysics); Tiffany Davis (CC); Paige Lampkin (GS); Howard Jacobson (Deputy General Counsel, nonsenator); Mary McGee (GS, nonsenator), chair; Raluca Marian (Public Health).


2007-08 Meetings: Sept. 21; Oct. 19; Nov. 30; Dec. 14; Jan. 25; Feb. 29; April 11, May 1, 2008


This year the S&O committee of the Senate focused its discussion and work on matters of participation in the Senate, with particular attention to issues related to orientation, representation, and attendance. We have embarked on some short- and long-term projects and goals, summarized below.


Projects and Work

Review of Senate Constituencies, with special attention to administrative staff representation, particularly in reference to grade-level differences between Morningside and Health Science campus employees.  Research has included examining the status of Harlem Hospital employees and the status of coaches. A report and recommendation concerning appropriate representation on the Senate will be forthcoming in 2008-09.


Review of Attendance of Plenary Sessions and Enhancing Participation in the University Senate

Reviewed data and discussed strategies for enhancing attendance.

Reinstituted sending of Senate attendance sheet to all senators in January of each year.

Discussed strategies to address absence at meetings by senators.


Related to this, a subcommittee is working on how to better “brand” the University Senate to the university community to help individuals better understand the work and significance of the Senate and elicit more participation in Senate elections and governance.


Review of Chairmanship of Committees

Discussed terms limits for chairmanships of Senate committees, commissions, and taskforces, as well as limits on the number of chairmanships per person,  A resolution to limit the number of chairmanships to two per person is on the Senate agenda for May 9.


Strategic Planning for Periodic and Systematic Review of Senate Committees

We have discussed and outlined a plan and process to initiate a systematic review of Senate committees, commissions, and taskforces; we expect to initiate reviews of 2-3 committees in 2008-09.


Implementation of an Orientation for New Senators

In partnership with S&O, Executive Committee, and Senate Office, an official and annual Orientation of new senators will start in the Fall of 2008.

Relevant to this is an on-going discussion S & O has had about better articulating the responsibilities as well as the rights of senators; responsibilities are not included in the by-laws.


Institutionalizing Acknowledgement of Senate Service

In partnership with S&O, Executive Committee, and Senate Office, Senate service will be formally recognized each year by a letter to individuals in service to the Senate, with the option for copies to be sent to supervisors and deans.


Recommendation for clearer guidelines on confidentiality of minutes from Senate committees.

S &O has been exploring new and clearer language on confidentiality of minutes of committees, with the plan to provide recommendations to the Senate and committees on how minutes should be kept.


For the committee,


Mary McGee, chair