University Senate                                                                                  Proposed: April 26, 2002

Adopted:

 

 

MEETING OF MARCH 29, 2002

 

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

 

Minutes and agenda: The agenda was adopted as proposed. Sen. Henry Pinkham, dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, offered a revision to the minutes of February 22, which had recorded the increase in applications to GSAS for next year as 4 percent; the final number was 12 percent.

 

President’s report:

—The NYC Board of Standards and Appeals has approved a set of variances needed to begin construction of the new School of Social Work on Amsterdam Avenue between 121st and 122nd streets. Groundbreaking is scheduled in late June or early July for the first building to be constructed expressly for the School, which has made do for years in a converted Single Room Occupancy hotel on 113th Street.

­­—The election to determine whether the United Auto Workers will represent student teachers and research assistants as their collective bargaining agent took place on March 13, 14, and 19. Participation was strong, on the order of 80 percent. A significant number of ballot challenges will have to be adjudicated. The president expressed optimism that eligible students had voted not to accept the UAW as their representative, but he said any assessment of the results at this point is speculative. All the ballots have also been impounded, pending the outcome of the University’s appeal on the “status” issue—the question of whether student teachers and research assistants are understood to be employees under the National Labor Relations Act. The NLRB has agreed to hear that appeal. The president said the final decision will set 30 years of precedent against a single recent decision, the ruling by the NLRB’s regional director that NYU students who teach are employees. If the University wins the appeal, the president said, the results of the election will unfortunately never be known, but at least there won’t be more elections. He said the transaction costs of holding them, in time and energy, are significant. He said the appeal would probably be a matter of months.

­—Arizona State University has just announced that Michael Crow, Executive Vice Provost at Columbia, will be their next president. President Rupp praised the energy and imagination that Dr. Crow has committed to moving Columbia forward. The change is an exciting opportunity for Dr. Crow, he said, but a sobering loss for the University.

 

Nominations to committees: Executive Committee chairman Paul Duby (Ten., SEAS) announced the nomination of Sen. Marni Hall (Stu., GSAS/NS) to represent the student caucus on the Executive Committee in the seat recently vacated by Rohit Aggarwala. The Senate unanimously elected Sen. Hall.

 

Sen. Duby read a list of late changes in committee assignments, which the Senate approved.

Report of the Executive Committee chairman:

—Trustee relations: At the plenary Trustee meeting on March 2, Sen. Duby (Ten., SEAS) and Sen. Roosevelt Montas (Stu., GSAS/Hum.) learned that Lee Bollinger will become president of Columbia at this year’s last Trustee meeting on June 1, a month earlier than originally planned. The Trustees discussed issues presented by their online learning committee, which may lead to some decisions for next year. They also discussed the financial condition (and interdependence) of New York Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia’s medical school. An extensive presentation by James Neal, University Librarian, focused on the future importance of the distinction between the virtual and the physical library.

 

At their March meeting, the Trustees also elected Faye Wattleton as the next Senate-consulted Trustee, a decision reached after consultations a few weeks earlier with a nominating subcommittee of the Senate Executive Committee. There remain three vacancies on the Board.

 

Sen. Duby urged senators to recommend nominees for honorary degrees, for the confidential consideration of the Senate Honors and Prizes Committee.

 

Sen. Duby asked committee chairs to submit their annual reports well in advance of the last Executive Committee meeting.

 

Old business:

—Report from Misumbo Byrd, director of the Office of Sexual Misconduct

Prevention and Education, on the first two years of experience of the policy on student sexual misconduct adopted by the Senate on February 25, 2000. Ms. Byrd invited questions about her written report, which had been distributed.

 

Sen. Michael Shelanski (Ten., HS) asked why the Law School had opted out of the policy. Associate General Counsel Patricia Catapano, who had chaired the Senate task force that developed the policy, said the Law School has its own disciplinary policy. The president explained that the Law School policy has features of the criminal justice system—provision for legal representation and direct rebuttal of witnesses, for example —that the Senate saw as incompatible with the goals of a policy on student sexual misconduct.

 

Ms. Byrd summarized her report, saying her office provides preventive education and oversees a special adjudication process for students with complaints of sexual misconduct. Since the adoption of the policy, one case has been decided by a hearing panel, another complaint was withdrawn before a panel could be formed, and a third is now pending.

 

Ms. Byrd said she began her work in October 2001, and has been developing a student advisory board. She is also in regular contact with other University offices, including the Rape Crisis Center, Alice, Women’s Health, the Ombuds Office, and Affirmative Action.

 

Sen. Montas asked about the status of two appendices to the report, a list of contacts from possible complainants since the spring of 2001 and new procedural regulations adopted in September 2001 for the disciplinary procedure. Ms. Byrd said these changes, adopted before her arrival, are designed to clarify some features of the policy.

Sen. Gyasi Ross (Stu., Law) asked if the policy includes a sanction against a student who brings a fraudulent complaint. Patsy Catapano said such a student is subject to discipline under the policy.

 

Sen. Duby called attention to an additional set of written comments on Ms. Byrd’s report that her office had distributed at the door. One letter, from four students, noted the high levels of student involvement in the Senate’s adoption of the present policy two years ago, and expressed dissatisfaction with the degree of student participation since then.

Ms. Byrd said she was working with these and other students, and hoped to assure that there will be no need for a critique of this kind when the policy comes up for review.

 

Sen. Montas asked Ms. Byrd to comment on the complaint in the letter from the four students that the policy has been changed. She said her sense is that the new appendix on procedures in the disciplinary process is more a clarification or an expansion of present policy than a change. For example, it balances the right of the accused to witness the testimony of the accuser with the accuser’s need for a sense of safety by allowing each to see the other’s testimony on closed-circuit TV.

 

In response to a question, she said outreach and education are essential to the effort to make sure that people are aware of the policy and feel free to make complaints.

 

The president called attention to a resolution, drafted by the Executive Committee and distributed at the door, to postpone for two years the review of the policy scheduled for this year. The main reason for postponement is that the experience of the adjudicatory process so far has been so slight.

 

Sen. Montas suggested amending the resolution to specify a date—the spring of 2004­— for the postponed review. Hearing no objection, the president accepted the amendment as friendly on behalf of the Executive Committee.

 

Sen. Sharyn O’Halloran asked Ms. Byrd if the Senate could foster communication about the policy in the time leading up to the review. Ms. Byrd said it would help if students could help develop a process for conducting the review.

 

President Rupp asked for the record to show that agreement to postpone the review will include an arrangement for Ms. Byrd’s office to work with the Executive Committee to devise a way to conduct a review in a way that includes students.

 

The Senate adopted the amended resolution without dissent.

 

—Report from Faculty Affairs: Some Disparities in Faculty Salaries at Columbia,

(with accompanying resolutions): Sen. Eugene Litwak (Ten., A&S/SS) proposed to present the two accompanying resolutions separately. He asked Sen. Frances Pritchett (Ten., A&S/Hum) to speak to the first one, on language lecturers.

 

­Resolution to Learn about the Scale of Disparities in Salaries between Language Lecturers and Assistant Professors within Academic Departments: Sen. Pritchett said there seems to be general agreement that language lecturers’ salaries need to be improved. She presented the resolution as an attempt to acquire nonconfidential data that might guide this effort.

 

The Senate adopted the resolution without dissent.

 

Resolution to Learn about the Scale of Salary Disparities among Senior Faculty within Academic Departments: Sen. Litwak said that while there seemed to be broad agreement that disparities among senior professors’ salaries are troubling, there are different ideas in the faculty caucuses about how to address this problem. Instead of pursuing a resolution now, the group is interested in forming a committee including other segments of the University to work more on the problem. Sen. Litwak asked to withdraw the resolution, with the understanding that concerns behind it remain important to the caucuses, which may bring a new proposal to the Senate, perhaps in the fall.

 

At the president’s request, the Sen. Litwak summarized some of the issues involved. The initial concern about sharp disparities between the salaries of full professors in the same department was that market forces, revealed in outside offers to Columbia faculty and in Columbia’s efforts to recruit outside faculty, were skewing decisions about salaries. Productive faculty members who have not entertained outside offers for one reason or another have generally been paid less well. Another concern was that Columbia faculty salaries at senior levels are generally not competitive with those at peer institutions. A third approach considers ways to recognize merit.

 

New business:

—Interim Report from the Ad Hoc Committee on Research Staff Affairs: Sen.

Barry Allen (Res. Stf./HS) summarized the work of the committee, which the Senate created in January 2001 after he and Sen. Stephanie Neuman (Res. Stf./Morn.) had held a series of meetings with colleagues at Lamont, Morningside, and Health Sciences.

 

The committee has received useful demographic information from the administration about research officers, a group with more than 1800 members. About one-third of these are professional research officers, about a quarter are staff officers, and the rest are post-doctoral research officers.

 

Many members of the group feel vulnerable and pressured by their supervisors, who are mostly faculty members.

 

The upshot of the committee’s work is a recommendation for an increase in the number of Senate representatives from two to six, including four professional researchers (three senior, one junior), one staff associates, and one post-doc.

 

One reason for the relatively large professional research group is that the committee’s second request is for a standing committee of nine, with a grievance function analogous to that of Faculty Affairs, and such a role would require a significant number of senior members. In discussions with Structure and Operations, there has not yet been agreement on what kind of role such a committee should play in hearing grievances.

 

The committee’s third request is to add new seats for researchers on a number of committees on which researchers are not now represented, including Education, Housing Policy, and others.

 

Sen. Allen said he hoped the committee will continue as an ad hoc group for another year, while it continues the present dialogue with Structure and Operations. But the long-term issues researchers want to address, including grievances and possible revisions of researchers’ titles, will require a permanent standing committee.

 

With the presentation of the present interim report, Sen. Allen said he hoped to be able to report some progress at the end of this year on the work of Structure and Operations.

 

Sen. Duby said the Executive Committee and Structure and Operations both favored extending the life of the ad hoc committee for another year.

 

Sen. Richard Bulliet (Ten., A&S/SS), the acting chair of Structure and Operations, said his committee’s discussions had made clear that proportional representation based on numbers was not a founding principle of the Senate. At the same time the number of research officers has grown enormously since the start of the Senate in 1969, along with their contribution to the University’s budget. So the committee has looked sympathetically on the idea that there should be a significant increase in researchers’ representation in the Senate. Now the committee is looking at the question of constituency—should it be based simply on titles as defined in the Faculty Handbook, or on geography? Another question is the exact role of a standing committee of researchers. While the committee expects to act on the researchers’ proposal, Sen. Bulliet said it is unlikely there will be a resolution by the April Senate meeting. But he hoped for a resolution early in the fall.

 

Sen. Neuman pointed out that because of the vulnerability of their position, a number of researchers are afraid. As a result, it may be difficult to accomplish elections for each geographical location. That’s why the ad hoc committee had recommended an at-large distribution of Senate seats, so that the committee could redress any imbalance in the composition of the Senate delegation by appointing non-senators to the committee from each school without a Senate representative. Sen. Neuman expressed confidence that Structure and Operations would act on the researchers’ request; the question was when.

 

Sen. Letty Moss-Salentijn (Ten., SDOS) said that, as the lone faculty representative on the ad hoc researchers’ committee, she has been struck by this group’s vulnerability. She strongly endorsed the committee’s request for a separate grievance committee, and asked for a quick decision from Structure and Operations on that issue.

 

Sen. Montas asked how the three non-elected members of the proposed standing committee would be chosen. Sen. Allen said the request for three non-senator members was a compromise resulting from earlier versions of the proposal which had called for a larger number of members, all of whom would be senators. The only way to provide for a number of committee members larger than the proposed number of senators was to allow some of them to be non-senators, appointed in some way yet to be determined.

 

—Guiding Principles for the Administrative Conduct of Deans, Department

Chairs, and Directors of Institutes (Faculty Affairs): Sen. Moss-Salentijn summarized the guidelines, which she said should not be necessary. Grievances that have come to Faculty Affairs over the years have revealed a number of problems in the conduct of some deans and department chairs. In some instances, these administrators have grievously violated standards of proper behavior.

 

Since the committee delegated the task of drafting these guidelines to her two years ago, Sen. Moss-Salentijn has presented various drafts to Faculty Affairs and the faculty caucuses, as well as other sympathetic readers. The guidelines set forth minimal standards of behavior for administrators. Sen. Moss-Salentijn asked for discussion to guide the committee in preparing a final version for Senate action.

 

Sen. Litwak said he has observed a trend away from a collegial, democratic model of university governance over the years toward a more corporate model, in which the University functions more like a business enterprise. He said the proposed guidelines state basic truths about how a university should work. Similar guidelines have been offered for faculty conduct; sadly, he said, it is also necessary to state such guidelines explicitly for administrators of academic units.

 

Sen. Bulliet commended the guidelines as a philosophical statement, but said the fourth paragraph of the introduction goes beyond philosophy in setting forth specific rules detailing abuses subject to Senate censure.

 

A former director of an institute that did not have a specific set of faculty members, Sen. Bulliet said he was troubled by the idea that the proposed guidelines might embody a set of enforceable rules. A year ago, he said, a faculty member claimed Sen. Bulliet had no legitimacy as an institute director because he had not been elected by faculty, but appointed by the dean. He said the more than 130 institutes and centers operate very differently from schools and departments, and should not be covered by the guidelines.

 

Sen. Litwak said a student senator in a recent discussion had stressed the need for more formality in the governance of institutes as well as schools and departments. He concluded that rules have a different value depending on one’s perspective. He acknowledged the diversity of the University’s organizations, but repeated that an affirmation of collegiality would benefit all of them.

 

Howard Jacobson, the parliamentarian, called attention to statutory distinctions between schools or faculties on the one hand, and institutes on the other. Members of institutes are drawn from different faculties; personnel decisions about them are not made by directors.

 

Sen. Litwak replied that the Statutes empower the Senate to establish institutes, and therefore to examine their rules and procedures. The president said the Statutes provide a useful vantage point from which to consider principles of this kind.

Sen. Marni Hall (Stu., GSAS/NS) said it was she who had commented on the need for clear rules for institutes, mainly because of numerous questions she has received as a member of the student caucus from constituents.

 

Sen. Shelanski, chair of the Department of Pathology, said the proposed guidelines, presented as something like a set of University-wide by-laws, may not fit the highly diverse range of academic units, particularly at Health Sciences.

 

The president said he had requested in the Executive Committee that administrators who might be affected by the proposed guidelines have a chance to comment. He had recommended contacting the Council of Deans. He suggested that the Arts and Sciences department chairs, who meet regularly, and the Health Sciences department chairs should also be consulted. He said the scale of these operations varies enormously, from Medicine, with 1000 members, to Nursing, with three. He requested that Faculty Affairs solicit comment from all of these groups, just as a policy on sexual misconduct requires input from affected student groups.

 

In response to a question from Sen. Allen, the president said he read the guidelines as applying to academic units, composed basically of faculty. Including administrative units would greatly expand the purview of the guidelines.

 

Sen. Moss-Salentijn said the Sen. Hall’s comment about the need for by-laws for all academic units was particularly useful. She recalled that all units were once required to provide by-laws, which were centrally filed. She said the word “democracy” seemed to alarm her clinical colleagues, and she had no intention of making units ungovernable, but she said any unit with working by-laws is already proceeding appropriately.

 

The president adjourned the meeting at around 2:40 pm.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

Tom Mathewson, Senate staff