President Lee Bollinger, the chairman, called the Senate to order shortly after 1:15 pm in the Davis Auditorium in the Schapiro Engineering Building. There were 51 senators present during the meeting.
Minutes and agenda: The minutes of January 31 and the agenda were adopted as proposed.
Campus planning: The president said Columbia faces important space issues. It has not acquired all the space it needs, but it has enough property now and enough within reach to make it worthwhile to consider a complete portrait of the university and to undertake a master plan. The University has hired Renzo Piano, a highly distinguished architect whose firm designed the New York Times building and the extension of the Morgan library. He will be the lead designer. Marilyn Taylor of Skidmore Owens & Merrill will be the lead planner. The lead committee will be an advisory faculty committee group with some staff on it, but there will also be opportunities for participation by the surrounding community well as other university groups. One such arrangement is the subject of a resolution on the present agenda.
Sen. Eugene Galanter (Ten., A&S/Natural Sciences) said that, in addition to the large-scale questions that must be taken up in the campus planning effort, there are also immediate needs requiring reallocations of space on a modest scale—involving hundreds, not thousands, of square feet--that could mean the difference between success and failure in the faculty recruiting now under way in his department, Psychology. This recruiting is essential to meet the department’s instructional requirements and to pursue the research priorities identified by an academic review committee. Sen. Galanter said Psychology is a strong department, capable of recruiting the best faculty, but not if there’s no place to put them.
Sen. Paul Duby (Ten., SEAS) asked for more details on the mandate the president had given to the planners. What evaluation of space needs is the mandate based on? How long is this planning effort likely to take? The president said the debate and decisions about how and where Columbia will build and what kind of university it will look like may take 3-5 years, but the initial campus planning effort, outlining the possibilities of different major decisions, may take 12-18 months.
Nominations to committees: Executive Committee chairman Paul Duby read a list of late roster changes. The Senate approved them.
Executive Committee chairman’s report: Sen. Duby reviewed the Senate agenda. He said the Executive Committee at its meeting on March 3 discussed the proposed Senate panel on campus planning at some length. Though its charge resembles the mandate of the Physical Development Committee, its purpose is partly to enable other relevant Senate committees to participate in the planning effort.
--Interactions with Trustees: Instead of holding regular committee and plenary meetings on February 28 and March 1, the Trustees held a retreat at an IBM conference center in Palisades, NY. They approved their regular business at a very short meeting, then went into executive session. The usual abstract of Trustee actions will be available in the Senate office.
Sen. Duby said he had asked University Secretary Keith Walton to arrange the regular meeting between the Senate Executive Committee and some Trustees on issues of community concern before the end of the spring term.
--Resolution to Outline a Senate Role in Columbia University’s Campus Planning Effort
(Physical Development and Executive committees): Sen. Sharyn O’Halloran (Ten., A&S/Social Sciences) said the resolution proposed a Senate task force to complement the group the president was setting up to advise campus planners. The goal is to enable the Senate to contribute to planning efforts, both in the early stages and throughout. Membership in the Senate panel will cut across Senate constituencies and standing committees.
President Bollinger said there was general support for the resolution.
Sen. Jonathan Manes (Stu., CC) asked if all members of the Senate task force have to be senators. Sen. O’Halloran said they don’t, but they will likely be members of Senate committees. Sen. Duby said the Senate would benefit from seeing the membership of the president’s committee before it finishes assembling its own group.
Sen. O’Halloran said the Senate group hopes to work closely with the senior administrators involved in the planning effort. She invited senators to volunteer.
The Senate unanimously adopted the resolution.
--Resolution to Extend the Online Learning Committee (Online Learning and Digital Media Initiatives Committee (OLDMIC), Structure and Operations Committee): Sen. O’Halloran, speaking now as chair of OLDMIC, said the committee began in the spring of 2001 with a two-year sunset provision, and is now asking the Senate to extend its life for one more year. So far OLDMIC has conducted a review of the university’s digital media operations, presenting a report to the Senate last fall. Sen. O’Halloran said the new administration has undertaken a massive reorganization of Columbia’s digital media efforts, which has been largely consistent with some of the committee’s recommendations. She expressed appreciation for the cooperative response, particularly from Vice President Robert Kasdin.
The committee has been working this year with AcIS, the Libraries, and the Center for New Media Teaching and Learning (CNMTL) to get a comprehensive picture of Columbia’s ongoing new media activities. Instead of conducting one large survey, the groups have trifurcated the project: the Libraries are taking part in a nationwide study, the National Library Quality Survey administered by Texas A&M and funded by the National Science Foundation, which will provide a benchmark for evaluating Columbia’s needs and usage of both digital media and print resources; the CNMTL is conducting a survey of its own clients; the third survey, involving OLDMIC and the other groups, will focus on usage, including people’s expectations.
The Libraries will conduct their survey from March 31 to April 18; the CNMTL survey is already under way, and should end soon; the final usage survey, to be designed with the experience of the other two in mind, will take place in the fall. OLDMIC will draw on all of these findings in preparing a final report by the end of next year, with policy recommendations.
Sen. Joan Ferrante (Ten., A&S/Hum) asked why the committee should limit itself to one more year, when it appears to have enough important work to do to continue indefinitely. Sen. O’Halloran said OLDMIC was established to tackle a particular issue. Since then policies have evolved. It is not clear whether an ad hoc committee will remain the best way to work on these problems, or whether a standing committee like Education or External Relations should take over the job. She also expressed discomfort with the idea of proliferating single-issue committees. She said the decision can be made next year.
Sen. Galanter suggested that e-mail, the most heavily used new medium in the University, needs to be managed more professionally. He cited the lack of a simple warning system for e-mail users whose accounts are about to become overloaded. Sen. O’Halloran said the usage survey in the fall would enable new media users to provide feedback of this kind.
The Senate unanimously approved the resolution.
--Revised Resolution to Adopt Guiding Principles for the Administrative Conduct of Deans and Department Chairs (Faculty Affairs): Sen. Moss-Salentijn, speaking now as a member of Faculty Affairs, offered her resolution as a case study in the glacial speed of Senate deliberations. After a prolonged incubation period, a version of the measure reached the Senate for discussion in March 2002. Since then, it has been discussed at meetings of the Council of Deans and the Arts and Sciences department chairs. The reception in those venues was not warm, Sen. Moss-Salentijn said. Having considered all the comments, Faculty Affairs made changes it considered reasonable, and was now submitting a final version for Senate action. She explained that the resolution, if adopted, would result in the publication of the guidelines as an appendix in the Faculty Handbook.
Sen. Moss-Salentijn said some had questioned the need for such guidelines, saying deans and chairs are bound by the same rules that govern all faculty. Sen. Moss-Salentijn said expectations for these academic administrators go beyond those defined for all faculty in the Handbook. She also noted the objection that the guidelines are so unexceptionable that they aren’t worth codifying. She said she would agree with this view, except that Faculty Affairs, in grievance investigations over the years, has found repeated violations of these unexceptionable rules by several Columbia administrators. She asked for Senate agreement with the expectation that academic administrators should be held accountable not only to those above them in the hierarchy but also to those beneath them whom they serve in their units.
Sen. James Applegate said he was surprised not to find the word “confidentiality” in the guidelines. He proposed the following changes as a friendly amendment to the last sentence of Section 4, Impartiality in the Use of Power (new matter in bold, deleted matter in brackets): “Annual [salary] discussions evaluating the salaries and working conditions of [with] members of the faculty and staff are among the responsibilities of deans and chairs, or their designated administrators[.], as is the maintenance of appropriate standards of confidentiality in matters of evaluations of salaries and working conditions.”
Sen. Moss-Salentijn asked Sen. Eugene Litwak (Ten., A&S/Soc. Sci.) to speak for the committee about whether to treat the amendment as friendly. He considered the amendment reasonable.
Sen. Richard Bulliet (Ten., A&S/Soc Sci) asked if a dean or chairman could invoke the confidentiality provision in declining to answer questions in a grievance investigation. Sen. Moss-Salentijn said a grievant could at that point release the administrator from the confidentiality requirement.
Sen. Litwak acknowledged that confidentiality was a critical issue which the committee had not considered sufficiently. He pointed out that it was in the name of confidentiality that administrators have sometimes refused to share important information in grievance investigations. He suggested a need for a limited waiver of the confidentiality requirement to enable Faculty Affairs to fulfill its mandate to investigate grievances.
Sen. Bulliet asked if such a waiver would apply to deliberations of ad hoc tenure review committees.
Sen. Litwak said that currently the Provost provides certain information about ad hoc committees, largely at his discretion. He noted the oddity that in litigation against the university over a tenure decision, the courts have allowed access to records of ad hoc deliberations of a kind that Faculty Affairs cannot get.
Sen. Bulliet said he would distinguish between confidentiality requirements in ad hoc deliberations and in the guidelines for dealings between grievants and their deans or chairs. He said he would be reluctant to serve on an ad hoc committee knowing that whatever he said might be divulged in a grievance investigation.
The provost called for caution in revising general statements in the present guidelines, when there are a number of established agreements covering some of the issues now under discussion. He said that Sen. Litwak appeared to have forgotten that a written agreement between his office and the Senate in 1996 includes a clear list of conditions under which the provost will provide information on ad hoc tenure deliberations to Faculty Affairs grievance investigators.
Sen. Applegate said the discussion had gone far beyond what he intended in his amendment.
The president suggested that the Senate might want to act on the guidelines without Sen. Applegate’s amendment, and then later take up the significant issues the amendment raised. Sen. Applegate agreed to withdraw his amendment.
Sen. Duby said Faculty Affairs might also want to do some more minor editing of the guidelines after a Senate vote.
The Senate then voted unanimously to adopt the resolution.
The president adjourned the meeting shortly after 2 pm.
Tom Mathewson, Senate staff