University Senate

Proposed: October 26, 2001

Adopted: October 26, 2001




President George Rupp, the chair, called the Senate to order at 1:15 p.m. in Schapiro Engineering Auditorium. Forty-seven of 79 senators were present during the meeting.


President’s report: President Rupp welcomed senators to the first meeting of the 2001-2002 academic year. Referring to the terrorist attacks of September 11, he said the year began somberly, and he thanked the Columbia community for its efforts to pull together in this difficult time, which he said is not over.


The president reviewed some highlights of a busy summer of Columbia activities. One was a successful session of Columbia Summer in Washington, a program that now provides internships to some 100 Columbia students in various Washington offices, along with weekly talks by prominent people with connections to the University.


Campus renovations proceeded on an unprecedented scale this summer, with classroom projects in Hamilton, Jerome Green, Pupin, and the Engineering School. Major work continued in Butler Library and Avery Hall, along with lab upgrades in Chandler and the construction of the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy and the Language Resource Center. Among student projects, a WKCR studio, a black box theater, and meeting rooms were completed in Lerner Hall, as well as renovations to River and Wien halls.


Final financial results for 2000-2001 were very good, with a solidly balanced budget and built-up reserves against difficult times that lie ahead, and an eighth consecutive annual record in fund-raising, with $359 million in total contributions, some $70 million more than last year’s record total, and more than triple the level of eight years ago.


The president provided updates on some other small, successful initiatives. The Columbia Housing Assistance Program is one of the few benefits programs set up for lower-income Columbia employees, with modest incentives for home ownership. Of 18 employees who have actively sought homes through the program, 10 have completed purchases. Most of these are in Harlem, including four directly across Morningside Park from the president’s house. The president recalled a hope he had expressed in 1993, his first year, that within a decade Columbia employees would live across the park and walk across it to work.  


Another small program, Passport New York, provides free admission for Columbia people to a number of nearby cultural institutions, in exchange for tuition waivers for employees of those institutions. Annual CUID admissions to the Metropolitan Museum of Art have more than doubled in the last three years, to about 22,000.


Sen. Gordon Christopher asked about reports that community residents have expressed concern about the latest plans for a new Social Work building, to rise on Amsterdam Avenue between 121st and 122nd streets.


The president said architectural planning for the new building is proceeding, and the University has held many meetings to learn and address community concerns. Although Columbia can accommodate the program of the Social Work school in an as-of-right building, everyone involved has agreed that certain zoning variances would result in a building better suited to the school and the neighborhood. The University is seeking commitments from all interested parties to support these variances. In sum, the project is on track, but every construction project in New York City takes a long time.


Sen. Richard Bulliet (Ten., A&S) asked about Columbia’s interest in two buildings on Morningside Drive that St. Luke’s Hospital has recently vacated. The president said Columbia is interested in any nearby real estate.


Sen. Rohit Aggarwala (Stu., GSAS/SS), asked whether there would be storefronts in the new Social Work building. The President said there will be commercial space there; the University wanted the same thing for the Business/Law building on Amsterdam, but there was resistance from the two tenants.


Minutes and agenda: The minutes of April 27, 2001, and the agenda were adopted as proposed.


Nominations to committees: Executive Committee chair Paul Duby presented the standing committee roster, which had been distributed at the door. 


Sen. Roosevelt Montas (Stu., GSAS/Hum), chair of the student caucus, added the following student nominations: Sen. Scott Sandler (Bus.) to Budget Review and Sen. Jasmine Tashman (PH) to the Commission on the Status of Women.


In response to a question, Sen. Duby said the Rules Committee, whose roster is nearly empty, has been on standby for several years. The Executive Committee wants the caucuses to appoint members to the committee now, and for it to meet once or twice, and to go over the Rules of University Conduct, which govern political rallies and demonstrations, so that it will be ready if needed.


With a few corrections from the floor, the Senate approved the roster without dissent.


Report of the Executive Committee chair: Sen. Duby welcomed new and returning senators, urging them to contact the staff or himself with any questions.


He was pleased to report that a Senate office request for a modest budget increase had been approved by the provost for this year. As a result, the office will have three full-time staff members, a restoration of support that Sen. Duby hoped will continue in the future.


During the summer, several committees kept working, under summer powers delegated by the Executive Committee. The ad hoc committee of researchers established last year had several meetings, with Executive Vice Provost Michael Crow and other administrators. The Online Learning Committee held its first meeting in July, then another one in mid-September.


Structure and Operations asked the Executive Committee to exercise its Statutory prerogative to extend the terms of senators from constituencies affected by the reapportionment plan adopted by the Senate in April, which must await final Trustee approval on October 6. The Executive Committee unanimously agreed to this request.


At its September 21 meeting, the Executive Committee also took up its recurring September duties, including appointments of a number of people involved in the administration and adjudication of the Rules of Conduct. To finish this job, the committee will need another meeting, where it will consider some student appointments.


Interactions with Trustees: The June 6, 2001, plenary meeting of the Trustees, which Sen. Duby and Sen. Aggarwala had attended as Senate observers, included reports from the President on the University’s sound financial condition and from a new Trustee subcommittee on digital media. The Legal Affairs Committee also reported on its collegial dealings with the Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing, whose chair, Prof. Harvey Goldschmidt of the Law School, had reported to the Senate in April 2001. The Trustees had accepted some but not all of the advisory committee’s recommendations on shareholder resolutions. Executive Vice Provost Michael Crow also introduced Barry Osmond, the new director of the Biosphere in Arizona. Prof. David Hirsh, chairman of the department of biochemistry and molecular biophysics, and until the arrival of Gerald Fischbach, Vice President for Health Sciences, interim dean for research, spoke about new biotechnology initiatives under way near the uptown campus.


Sen. Duby reminded the Senate that the Committee on Honors and Prizes, which does not normally report to the Senate, needs the help of all senators in thinking of worthy candidates for the honorary degrees awarded at Commencement.


Sen. Ree DeDonato (Lib. Stf.) said the Libraries have formed an emergency task force devoted to preserving archives that may have been damaged in the terrorist attacks of September 11 or may relate to responses to these events.  She invited anyone with questions, or with documents for the task force to consider, to contact Jean Ashton, head of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, or University Archivist Marilyn Pettit.


Sen. Jonathan Cole, the provost, added that Columbia has begun to compile oral histories from survivors of the September 11 disaster and their families, in conjunction with the New-York Historical Society. A number of students will be involved in this effort, which has already received funding from the National Science Foundation. He invited faculty whose students might want to participate to contact him or Prof. Peter Bearman.


New business:

--Update on sweatshop issues (External Relations): Sen. Eugene Litwak (Ten.,

 A&S Social Sciences), chair of External Relations, praised Columbia’s proactive efforts as a member of two anti-sweatshop organizations--the Fair Labor Association and the Worker Rights Consortium. He said Ginger Gentile, a Columbia College student and member of External Relations Subcommittee on Sweatshops, has joined the WRC Executive Committee, and Columbia’s executive director of Business Services, Bob Moskovitz, has joined the coordinating council of the universities affiliated with the WRC. When one apparel manufacturer, New Era, applied for membership in the Fair Labor Association after failing to respond to a WRC report critical of its operations, Mr. Moskovitz wrote to urge the FLA consider this failure in weighing New Era’s application. Mr. Moskovitz’s aggressive oversight has also helped to assure that nearly all of Columbia’s 68 licensees have affiliated with the FLA.


--Resolution to change the name of the Department of Chemical Engineering and

Applied Chemistry (Education): Sen. Letty Moss-Salentijn (Ten., SDOS), chair of Education, presented a resolution to delete the last three words, “and Applied Chemistry,” of the department’s name. 


Sen. Duby, an engineering professor, said department faculty unanimously supported the proposal, which resulted from a serious review. So did the full engineering faculty.


The Senate unanimously approved the resolution.


The president adjourned the meeting shortly before 2 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,

Tom Mathewson, Senate staff