University Senate                                                                                              Proposed: March 29, 2002

 

Adopted:

 

 

MEETING OF FEBRUARY 22, 2002

 

President George Rupp, the chairman, called the Senate to order at 1:15 pm in Schapiro Engineering Auditorium. Thirty-six of 89 senators were present during the meeting.

 

Minutes and agenda: The minutes of February 1, 2002 and the agenda were adopted as proposed.

 

President’s report:

—The president received Senate approval to have Michael Feiler fill in as parliamentarian for Howard Jacobson, who was away.

—The president outlined the February 12 ruling of the regional director of the National Labor Relations Board on two main issues in the current campaign to unionize students:

1.      On the question of the status of this group, which the President characterized as the question of whether students who teach are primarily workers or students, the regional director ruled that she was bound by the decision in a similar case at NYU, which concluded that such students are employees.

2.      On the question of the composition of the bargaining unit, the regional ruling accepted most teaching assistants and research assistants at Health Sciences, Morningside, Lamont, and Nevis, along with a handful of undergraduate TAs. The president said that, except for the undergraduates, such a bargaining unit makes more sense than the union’s recommendation of a group composed only of Morningside TAs.

 

The administration is trying to reach agreement with the union on the details of the election to decide whether the UAW will represent students as their collective bargaining agent. The president said the difficulty of these negotiations is not a good sign.

 

The union has said it will appeal the composition of the bargaining unit to the national NLRB. The University may appeal the status issue. If there are appeals, the election will go forward, but the ballots will be impounded until the appeals have been addressed.

 

The president said he thought the NLRB needs to take a coherent position on the question of a suitable bargaining unit: a regional ruling on the Brown case, now under appeal,  allows no undergraduates in the unit; the NYU decision excludes RAs.

 

The election will probably take place the week of March 11. The president said the union has raised objections to the list of eligible of voters.

 

—A number of searches for senior administrators are under way, in consultation with President-elect Lee Bollinger. A new Social Work dean, to succeed Ronald Feldman, may be announced soon. A search for a new Journalism School dean has begun; the incumbent, Thomas Goldstein, is stepping down at the end of this academic year. There are vice presidencies to be filled are in student services, investments (to replace Bruce Dresner) and in public affairs, which was run by Alan Stone until his departure for Harvard a few months ago.

—Returns so far on applications to Columbia graduate schools are robustly positive, somewhat in contrast to undergraduate applications, which remain flat in Columbia College, and are significantly down in the Engineering School. The returns so far appear to bear out a familiar countercyclical pattern­—grad school applications go up when the economy goes down. Applications to the School of the Arts are up 4 percent; to the GSAS Ph.D. program, up 4 percent; to SIPA, up 78 percent, from just under 1100 to nearly 2000 applicants; to the Business School, up 31 percent; to graduate engineering programs, up 30 percent; to Law, up 35 percent; to Social Work, up 26 percent; to Architecture, up 8 percent; to Journalism, up 22 percent. Applications are also up 7 percent in General Studies, but flat overall for Health Sciences programs.

 

Sen. Michael Castleman (Stu., SEAS) asked how much money Columbia has spent on legal challenges to the campaign to unionize students and on other efforts that he characterized as “anti-union activities.” The president said Columbia, which has working relationships with several campus locals, is not anti-union, but is vigorously opposed to the unionization of its students. He did not give a figure on Columbia’s legal costs.

 

Sen. Stephanie Neuman (Research Staff) asked how much of the increase in applications, particularly in SIPA, is attributable to international students and to female applicants. The president said he did not have figures, but saw no reason why the increase shouldn’t reflect overall percentages—about 40 percent of SIPA’s students are international, and about half are women.

 

Nominations to committees: Executive Committee chairman Paul Duby read a short list of late changes in committee assignments. The Senate approved them.

 

Report of the Executive Committee chairman: Sen. Duby (Ten., SEAS) said that a second student caucus hearing on unionization had been held on February 6, after the last Senate meeting. Like the first hearing, it was announced on the Columbia home page.

 

Patsy Catapano has postponed her report on two years of experience of the policy on student sexual misconduct that the Senate approved on February 25, 2000. She will give the report at the March Senate meeting.

 

At the Executive Committee meeting on February 15, there had been extensive discussion of the report on the present meeting’s agenda on faculty salary equity issues from Faculty Affairs. Sen. Duby and Sen. Letty Moss-Salentijn (Ten., SDOS) had summarized this discussion at the Faculty Affairs meeting that afternoon.

 

There had also been discussion of the two resolutions on new programs from Education. In one case, the comments led to a change in the name of the program.

 

Sen. Duby welcomed Justine Blau, who has succeeded Debra Elfenbein on the Senate staff.

 

Sen. Duby said extensive renovations are under way in Low Library, and the Senate conference room will accommodate four people from another office for the next six months. During that time, Senate committees will be meeting elsewhere.

 

Old business:

 

—Update on discussion of unionization of students who teach at Columbia: In  brief remarks about the student caucus hearings on student unionization, Sen. Hilary Rosenstein (Stu., CC) said the second hearing focused on more specific issues than the first hearing, partly because the caucus received many e-mailed questions during the week between the two hearings.

 

New business:

 

—Report on Some Inequities in Faculty Salaries (Faculty Affairs): Sen. Frances Pritchett (Ten., A&S/Hum) presented the report, which she had given in an earlier version to the Senate in April 2001. She said subsequent discussions have convinced her that it would be impolitic and premature to recommend changes in salary policy before getting more information. So the present version of the report seeks useful information on two groups of faculty without violating the confidentiality of individual salaries.

 

Sen. Pritchett said the report’s concern about the first group, language lecturers, is not controversial. These instructors have Ph.D’s and teach heavy course loads, with annual salaries well below $40,000 and minimal prospects for promotion. Such a situation does not do Columbia credit, Sen. Pritchett said. She said she hoped to see these salaries approach those of assistant professors. For each academic department in the Arts and Sciences, the report requests the ratio between the salaries of the lowest-paid language lecturer and the lowest-paid assistant professor.

 

With the salaries of the second group of faculty, full professors, Sen. Pritchett said the report was in more controversial territory. She said some seem to want to no limit on the range of such salaries, either at the top, where the contributions from “stars” seem infinitely valuable, or the bottom, where “dead wood” faculty are found. Sen. Pritchett said there are numerous counter-arguments to make to this position, but for now the committee simply wants to know what the ranges are, in the form of the ratio between the salaries of the lowest-paid and the highest-paid full professor in each Arts and Sciences department. She said such data should also be available to review committees.

 

The president clarified the status of Sen. Pritchett’s initiative: it was not a resolution, an action item, at the present meeting but a report, for discussion. He understood from Executive Committee deliberations that the committee would decide later whether and in what form to bring a resolution.

Sen. Justin White (Stu., GS) suggested seeking average salaries within each department as an alternative measure.

 

Sen. Jonathan Cole, the provost, asked why the Senate limits itself to the Arts and Sciences when it seeks salary information. Sen. Pritchett said she had no such intent. She started locally, with a concern about colleagues in her department, Middle East Languages and Cultures. She said she would be happy to extend the range of the committee’s inquiry more widely.

 

Sen. David Cohen, Vice President for Arts and Sciences, said he has recognized the problem of language lecturers’ salaries, and last year asked department chairs to take some steps. Sen. Cohen enlarged the pool for salary raises for language lecturers from what had been originally budgeted, and also set a salary floor, making sure that all lecturer salaries were at least at that level. He has also initiated standard minimum increases at the conclusion of major reviews for language lecturers: 5 percent after the fifth-year review, 12 percent after the eighth-year review and for promotion to senior language lecturer, and 5 percent after the 13th-, 18th- and 23rd-year reviews. Sen. Pritchett expressed enthusiasm about these measures.

 

Sen. Cohen also associated himself with the Sen. Cole’s comment, adding that he is not enthusiastic to have the Arts and Sciences singled out among Columbia’s 15 units in the committee’s request for salary data, which he would be reluctant to provide in isolation.

 

Sen. Pritchett repeated that she had no intention of singling out any school, and was interested in having a comparative framework for salaries. But she added that it would be difficult to compare salaries in Arts and Sciences with those at Health Sciences, which are on different scales and are funded differently. Sen. Cohen Arts and Sciences is itself a many-splendored thing, with major variations in funding among departments.

 

Sen. Cohen also responded to Sen. Pritchett’s point about teaching loads, by saying that language lecturers were expressly hired to teach, with no research duties in their job description. Sen. Pritchett said she served on the Arts and Sciences standing committee on language lecturers for several years, and observed that professional activities were among the criteria for promotion. She said this makes sense for a professionalizing field, but salaries should keep pace.

 

Sen. Cohen said that a creative leave has been instituted for some language lecturers. But the basic mission of language lecturers is pedagogy.

 

Sen. Pritchett said the creative leave is a valuable improvement, which Columbia will need along with better salaries to compete for the best language lecturers. She was pleased to conclude that the disagreement here seemed more a matter of emphasis than of principle.

 

The president suggested that the committee, in its further deliberations, should consider the boundaries between between Arts and Sciences, the Morningside campus as a whole, and the University as a whole. He said he could not see the rationale for the Senate, which is mandated to address issues that cut across schools, to focus exclusively on Arts and Sciences in this case. Sen. Pritchett said the committee would consider that question.

 

—Resolution to Establish a Certificate in Comparative Literature and Society

(Education): Sen. Moss-Salentijn presented the resolution for the program, which she said responds to a disciplinary shift, in which graduate students in the social sciences are using comparative literature as part of the study of their own fields.

 

With permission from the Senate, Prof. Andreas Huyssens, who will direct the program, spoke briefly. He said the certificate program will not add to the time of study for the Ph.D., but is “embedded” in the Ph.D. program curriculum.

 

The Senate unanimously approved the resolution.

 

—Resolution to Establish a Ph.D. Program in Kinesiology (Education): Sen. Moss-Salentijn said that the Executive Committee had expressed reservations about the title that had been proposed for the program—a Ph.D. in “Movement Science and Education.” Partly because an Ed.D. degree in the field already exists, it seemed inappropriate to refer to education in the name of the Ph.D. In addition, kinesiology is the name used for other programs in the same field. Within hours of the Executive Committee meeting, Sen. Moss-Salentijn said, program proposers from Teachers College had submitted a new name.

 

The Senate unanimously approved the resolution.

 

The president adjourned the meeting shortly before 2 pm.

 

                                                                                                Respectfully submitted,

 

 

                                                                                                Tom Mathewson, Senate staff