University Senate                                                                                                          Proposed: January 31, 2003

 

                                                                                                                                    Adopted

 

 

MINUTES OF DECEMBER 13, 2002

 

The chairman, President Lee Bollinger, called the meeting to order shortly after 1:15 pm in the Davis Auditorium in Schapiro Engineering. Fifty of 97 senators were present during the meeting.

 

Minutes and agenda: The agenda was adopted as proposed. The minutes of November 22, 2002 were adopted with a couple of corrections: the year of the founding of the School of Dental and Oral Surgery is 1916, not 1960; and the correct number of clinical practice hours beyond the bachelor’s degree that would be required of candidates for the proposed Doctor of Nursing Practice program should have been listed as 2900, not 29.

 

President’s report: The president said administrators have made progress in space planning, and expect to announce some broad recommendations early in the next semester.

 

He noted that Vice President Emily Lloyd was providing the Columbia community with information about how to deal with a possible transit strike in the days ahead.

 

Sen. Luciano Rebay (Ten., A&S/Hum) repeated allegations he has made at other meetings about the sale of the Casa Italiana to the Italian government in 1990, a transaction that he said was represented by the Columbia press office as a large gift. He said he is preparing a dossier on this and related matters that he will present to the president, but also to the news media.

 

Sen. Herbert Gans (Ten., A&S/Social Sciences) asked about the work of the task force reviewing the mission of the Journalism School, and wondered if a similar review is planned for the Architecture School, which, like Journalism, is searching for a new dean.

 

The president said the task force, a 30-member group drawn from Columbia and outside that has now met three times, has been thinking about what an ideal journalism school would be like. He stressed that the work of the task force is not a review of the current Columbia school. He expected the committee to finish its work midway through the spring semester. There may or may not be a final report, though he will make a statement of his own conclusions.

 

The president said the impetus for creation of the task force was vigorous debate on this and other campuses about what a journalism school should be. He said he has not heard controversy on this scale about architecture or other professional disciplines, and therefore doesn’t see the need now for other studies of this kind.

 

Provost Jonathan Cole said that he considered all of Sen. Rebay’s remarks on the Casa Italiana to be erroneous or misleading. He said it was unfortunate that this conversation has continued for years in this and other settings, testing the tolerance of colleagues.

Sen. Ralph Holloway (Ten., A&S/SS) asked if any attempt is being made to save bioanthropology, his subfield of anthropology. He said the Education Committee received a student petition on this subject last spring, and the issue has been aired in the Spectator and in professional newsletters. The response that bioanthropology will be covered by the new Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology (E3B) is insufficient, he said, because E3B offers no courses in human evolution, an essential topic in bioanthropology. He asked to be included in future discussions of this subject in the Anthropology Dept.

 

Provost Cole said the issue Sen. Holloway raised is part of a continuing discussion that has been going on for some time in the Arts and Sciences. He said he and Vice President for Arts and Sciences David Cohen would be willing to consider new contributions to this discussion, and to discuss them with Sen. Holloway.

 

Nominations to committees: Executive Committee chairman Paul Duby (Ten., SEAS) welcomed three new student observers to the University Senate: Jeff Sult and Nathan Walker from Teachers College, and Josh Thomas  from Union Theological Seminary.

 

Executive Committee chairman’s report: Sen. Duby reminded senators of the most important item on the agenda—the holiday reception after the meeting in the Senate office.

 

            --Interactions with Trustees: On December 7 Sen. Marnie Hall (Stu., GSAS/Natural Sciences) and Sen. Duby attended the Trustees’ regular plenary meeting , though much of it was conducted in executive session. Sen. Duby learned that members of the Trustees’ education committee, who meet regularly with students, had talked that weekend with a group of graduate students. He said the student caucus might want to participate in such a meeting.

 

The Trustees are concerned about current tightening of the University budget. At this point they do not want to change the current endowment spending rule, Sen. Duby said, but they might change their minds later on.

 

Sen. Duby called attention to a letter in the Senate packet soliciting nominees for “Senate-consulted” Trustees. This group comprises one quarter of the 24-member board. For the last few years these board members have been chosen through a successful consultation process involving nominating subcommittees from the Senate and the board who meet together early in the spring term to choose one Trustee or so each year. The Senate group, a subcommittee of the Executive Committee, will begin preparing for that meeting in the next few weeks. 

 

--Other issues: The resolution to change the Senate by-laws to expand representation for Officers of Research, adopted by the Senate on November 1, was submitted to the Trustees for the first time the past weekend. If there are no objections at the next Trustee meeting in early March, the amendments will have final approval, and the Senate can hold elections for the four new researcher seats. Elections are being held now for the two current seats. Sen. Duby said Sen. Stephanie Neuman, who worked hard to get the amendment passed, is not running in the present election. He hoped she will run again in the spring.

 

Sen. Duby said he was obliged to report again on the Senate column in the University Record. Once again, he said, mention of his remarks to the Senate about cuts in the column were cut from the next Senate Record column. There has now been publicity about this problem in the Spectator and the Chronicle of Higher Education. The good news, he said is that a subcommittee of Senators Sharyn O’Halloran (Ten., A&S/Social Sciences) and Roosevelt Montas (Stu., GSAS/Hum) has been meeting with Provost Cole, and are close to an agreement on editorial procedures for the column. On December 9, the Executive Committee was unable to hold a full discussion of the procedures because the president and the provost had to leave early. But Sen. Duby hoped to settle the issue at the January Executive Committee meeting.

 

Finally, Sen. Duby addressed the Executive Committee decision on December 9 to leave the two degree proposals from Health Sciences--the Doctor of Nursing Practice and the Doctor of Physical Therapy—off the agenda for the present meeting. For the third time this semester, the Executive Committee discussed the programs at length, and was unanimous in deciding to postpone further Senate consideration of the two proposals. He noted that there is one more Senate meeting—on January 31--before the Trustees meet next in early March, so a postponement of one Senate meeting will not further delay Trustee action.

 

Sen. Duby said there have now been two substantial Senate discussions of the proposed programs, and he urged senators to read the minutes of these meetings—on November 1 and November 22—to prepare for an eventual vote.

 

Sen. Duby said one important point at the last meeting—made by several senators, including the president—is the need for guidelines for Columbia doctoral degrees, particularly at Health Sciences. He had asked Education Committee chair Letty Moss-Salentijn to request standards for clinical doctorates from Health Sciences Vice President Gerald Fischbach. For its January 22 meeting, Education may see some standards, which might also be shared with the Senate on January 31.

 

Report from the faculty caucuses: Caucus co-chair Sharyn O’Halloran said caucus reports are a new practice, providing an opportunity to share some of the issues the caucuses are discussing, to get additional input and possibly to expand the debate. The caucuses have devoted time recently to the proposed nursing practice doctorate, focusing on the need for standards and the question of whether the proposed program is sufficiently developed to constitute a doctorate.

 

A second main issue, Sen. O’Halloran said, is the need for information sharing with the provost’s office. One example is access to nonconfidential salary ratios for language lecturers, which the Senate requested in a resolution last spring but has been unable to obtain. Language lecturers are a class of instructors that the Senate created in the late 1980s and is obliged to review. Another example is information about budget and resource allocation decisions that affect the University as a whole. Other issues are pay equity for senior professors and the lack of transparency in the allocation of apartments to faculty.

 

These concerns go to the heart of the relationship with the central administration, Sen. O’Halloran said. As part of University management, the Senate has an obligation to oversee policy in a wide variety of areas. But it cannot perform this function without timely and adequate information, which the administration has provided in some recent inquiries. But senators are hoping for a more cooperative process, or perhaps an independent review panel that can evaluate information requests to see if they breach confidentiality requirements or fiduciary obligations.

 

Finally, Sen. O’Halloran said, the caucuses have been concerned about the excise of content from the Senate Record column. She hoped the Executive Committee could agree soon on new editorial procedures, which she can report to the next Senate meeting.

 

New business:

            --Report from the Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing: Prof. Merit Janow, who was appointed chair for this fall, reported on her first few months in charge of the committee, which was formed in March 2000. She said the group this year will likely consider the same categories of issues for proxy resolutions as last year--including the environment, labor, human rights, pharmaceutical issues, handguns, and corporate governance--but will probably surpass the total of 89 resolutions in these categories that it evaluated last year. It will also continue to evaluate socially screened investment vehicles, as well as the possibility of rules and guidelines for the committee’s own operations. The CSRI may also contact authors of some shareholder resolutions for fine-tuning of the language that might lead to committee support.

 

Prof. Janow mentioned the committee's December 4 statement opposing the recent petition recommending divestment of Columbia's stock in companies that manufacture or sell weapons to Israel. She said this issue will not be on the CSRI agenda again this year.

 

Sen. Michael Castleman (Stu., SEAS) identified a pattern of committee votes ignoring issues affecting the “global south,” such as shareholder resolutions on the environment, pharmaceutical pricing, and global labor conditions, and supporting issues of interest to the “global north,” like corporate governance and board diversity, executive compensation, and local labor issues. Sen. Castleman saw a worrisome trend in these preferences.

 

Prof. Janow said that in her brief time on the committee she has not seen a bias of this kind. She noted that a number of the committee’s negative votes last year were cast for company-specific reasons or because of reservations about the drafting of resolutions. She also mentioned some votes from the 2002 proxy season--in favor of resolutions opposing greenhouse gas emissions and calling for lower prices for AIDS medicines in poor countries--that didn’t fit Sen. Castleman’s pattern.

 

--Resolution to Change the Name of the Department of Medical Informatics to the Department of Biomedical Informatics (Education): Education chair Letty Moss-Salentijn moved the resolution, which was adopted with minimal discussion, and without dissent. .

 

The chairman adjourned the meeting at around 2 pm.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

Tom Mathewson, Senate staff