University Senate                                                                      Proposed: January 28, 2005

 

                                                   Adopted:

 

 

MINUTES OF DECEMBER 17, 2004

 

President Lee Bollinger, the chairman, called the committee to order shortly after 1:15 pm in 501 Schermerhorn. Fifty-one of 100 senators were present during the meeting. 

 

Minutes and agenda: A report on the Columbia School was added to the agenda. The minutes of November 19 were adopted as proposed.

 

President’s report: The president deferred his report.

 

Report of the Executive Committee chairman:  Sen. Paul Duby introduced student caucus co-chairs Matan Ariel and Nathan Walker. They gave awards to several members of the Digital Knowledge Ventures (DKV) office for their help in creating a Website that the student caucus is using to promote a campaign for a national tuition endowment. To applause, the caucus recognized the following: Carol Kassel, Kirsten Hudson, Todd Hardy, Carlos Zambrano, Sasha Mysakova. Brock Pennington, Merran Swartwood,  and Jason Fox.

 

Sen. Duby identified two main agenda items from the December 6 Executive Committee meeting: the Columbia School, and issues of academic freedom, particularly the problem of assuring it to both students and faculty, and making sure that it is used responsibly.

 

--Report from Structure and Operations: Sen. Duby said the Executive Committee had briefly considered a draft resolution from Structure and Operations that was now on the Senate agenda, but only as a report.

 

Sen. Jeremy Waldron, a member of Structure and Operations, spoke at the request of the committee chair, Sen. Vielka Holness (Admin. Stf., Morningside). Sen. Waldron said the committee had given favorable preliminary consideration to a proposal to add one research officer to each of six committees: Education, Executive, Budget Review, Structure and Operations, Rules, and Alumni Relations. He said his committee now wanted to hear from the Executive Committee, and other senators, before going forward with its current plan to present the proposal for Senate action in the spring.

 

Sen. Eugene Litwak said some Senate committee should address the issue of researcher grievances. The Research Officers Committee could add this function to its mandate, or perhaps Faculty Affairs could take on this function for research officers.

 

Trustee relations: Sen. Duby said the Executive Committee has formed a subcommittee on Senate-Trustee relations that will review current ties and consider possible improvements. He named the members, including three who are not on the Executive Committee (and whose constituencies are listed along with their full names):

5 tenured: Duby, Moss-Salentijn, O’Halloran (the chair), Jeremy Waldron (Ten., Law), Wolgemuth;

3 students: Ariel, Kelly, Christopher Riano (nonsen., obs., GS);

1 nontenured: Kachani;

1 alumnus: Bradley Bloch (SEAS).

 

Sen. Duby said another subcommittee is preparing a list of prospective nominees for the next Senate-consulted Trustees. Suggestions from other senators are still welcome. The subcommittee will meet with a group of Trustees early in 2005.

 

On February 10 the full Executive Committee will meet with a group of Trustees on issues of community concern.

 

Another important topic, which Sen. Duby had not yet had extensive discussion in the Senate, is the Columbia School. A subcommittee consisting of Sens. Litwak, O’Halloran, and Budget Review chairman Avery Katz (Ten., Law) has been discussing the School’s problems with Provost Brinkley. Sen. Duby asked Sen. Katz to report.

 

--Report on the Columbia School: Sen. Katz (Ten., Law) said the group’s discussions with the provost have been partly confidential, because of the sensitivity of issues related to community relations and the establishment of an educational community at the School. Sen. Katz said he would provide a basic outline of three issues: budgets, admissions criteria and process, and governance. 

 

Sen. Katz said the School is now under the supervision of the University’s central budget office, and steps have been taken to redress many of the cost overruns of the first years. Still, the University is spending significantly more money on the School than was originally budgeted. The main reason for this increase is Columbia’s commitment to allocate fifty percent of the spaces in the School to community children, with complete need-based financial aid.  This commitment, made for community relations reasons in the last years of the last administration, has been adopted by the present administration as a basic premise going forward

 

The increased expenditure for financial aid for the community students is currently being funded from the same source that was originally anticipated for the School—the faculty and staff fringe benefits account. Sen. Katz said the faculty members of the subcommittee have argued to the provost and to Senior Executive Vice President Robert Kasdin that it is therefore no longer appropriate to fund the entire cost of the School from the faculty and staff benefits account.  Instead, the portion of expenditures used for community relations considerations should be funded from some other source. This issue remains under consideration, Sen. Katz said.

 

The second issue, the School’s admissions process, was the subject of the recent general communication from the provost.  As that letter made clear, Columbia can no longer guarantee a right to admission for faculty children.  Sen. Katz said that guarantee may never have been feasible as a long-run policy anyway, if the School succeeds, but the decision to allocate half the spaces to the community has hastened the moment of reckoning.

 

Sen. Katz said a procedure had to be developed for the kindergarten classes, where the main bottleneck is. He said there are 60 kindergarten places, half of which go to the community, and a couple of which are allocated to Barnard.  That leaves fewer than 30 spaces for Columbia.

Because of the way the School has evolved, Sen. Katz said, Columbia will have to address the educational needs of some faculty children in some other way, possibly by expansion of the primary tuition scholarship program. But he said that was a topic for another day.

 

Sen. Katz said the subcommittee had recommended the procedures for allocating spaces for Columbia children that the provost had outlined in his recent letter. Sen. Katz said first priority will go to faculty members that have a reliance interest in having their children in the school—that is, faculty who were retained or recruited between the time that the school was approved by the trustees and the date of the provost’s recent letter making clear that Columbia couldn’t follow the policy.  Sen. Katz estimated that this group will claim about five slots per year for the next several years, and then the category will disappear.

 

The second priority goes to children of other full-time officers of instruction at Columbia, including tenure and tenure-track faculty , as well as instructors, professors of practice, and so on. Under current admissions patterns, Sen. Katz said it is unlikely that everybody who applies in this category will be admitted, although he hoped a majority would be.

 

A third group, consisting of all other officers of the University, is unlikely to be served under the guidelines.

 

Under the new guidelines, priority will be absolute so that everybody in category one will be served first, then to the extent possible the people in category two, and so on.  If a certain category cannot be entirely accommodated, as Sen. Katz expected with the group of full-time officers of instruction, there will be a lottery, with adjustments for various administrative reasons, including maintaining gender balance in a classroom, and insuring that no one unit of the university is overrepresented.  If all lottery winners turned out to be Law School families, for example, there would be an adjustment. In addition, Sen. Katz said, a small number of slots will be reserved for incoming faculty who accept offers from Columbia late in the year.       

 

There aren’t supposed to be any other methods for allocating spaces, Sen. Katz said. The subcommittee had struggled with the question of whether to guarantee admission to siblings of children already in the School, deciding finally against the idea. The conclusion was that if there are not enough spaces to go around, it is inequitable for some families to receive a multiple benefit, while others receive none. 

 

Sen. Katz said all concerned admit that these principles have not always been followed in the past. There may also be managerial issues relating to their immediate application, but there is a commitment to apply them to the current admissions year, and to make sure there is compliance in the future. The committee’s view is that compliance is most likely if the principles are clearly communicated and understood, which has not always been the case. 

 

Sen. Katz said less could be said about oversight, the third issue. The committee will continue to meet with the provost to collect data and provide feedback to make sure that the guidelines are followed in a consistent and transparent way, to collect data on admission to the school and matriculation rates (to find out the breakdown, say, between tenure-eligible and other faculty, or among Columbia schools).

 

Sen. Michael Adler said the message that Sen. Katz had conveyed was an outrage. He said the withdrawal of the commitment to faculty might cost the Business School at least two faculty members. He was appalled that the administration had apparently chosen the path of least resistance, taking advantage of the faculty because they are unlikely to make a major fuss. He proposed to reassert the original pledge made by former provost Jonathan Cole that admission to the School would be a right for faculty. If Columbia breaks its word to the faculty, it should break its word to all constituencies—including the community—and everybody’s access to admissions should be rolled back until the University can reconsider its allocation scheme.

 

Sen. Katz said the response when the subcommittee raised this issue was that these decisions had already been made. The subcommittee was trying to offer recommendations within those parameters.  He agreed that promises made during the previous administration to the community and to the faculty could not consistently be kept, and some accommodation had to be made.

 

In response to a question, Sen. Katz offered some numbers about the School. At the start it had grades K-3, and it is adding a grade each year. When the School is full, with an eighth grade, the anticipated number of spaces is 650.  About half of those will be allocated to Columbia affiliates.  Kindergarten, the primary entry point into the School, has 60 places, and an additional class with 20 students is provided in first grade. This means 30 plus 10 Columbia-affiliated students a year, plus whatever develops from attrition. A sixth-grade class may be also be added next year (a year ahead of schedule), providing another admissions opportunity for Columbia children. 

 

In response to another question, Sen. Katz said the annual tuition for the School is now $24,000. Columbia faculty with children in the School receive a 50 percent subsidy.

 

Asked how openings resulting from attrition would be filled, Sen. Katz said the same fifty-fifty split between Columbia and the community would be applied.

 

Sen. Samuel Silverstein (Ten., HS) said the value of the School as a recruiting tool is vitiated by the unavailability of seats after kindergarten. Could preferential treatment in filling vacancies resulting from attrition in later years be given to Columbia children? Sen. Katz said this was a useful point, which the committee had not considered in its preoccupation with kindergarten admissions. He said the current arrangement allows for adjustments from year to year and from class to class, consistent with an overall fifty-fifty division.  Columbia might request more than fifty percent of the attrition slots if that preponderance were made up for elsewhere.

 

Sen. Samuel Silverstein (Ten., HS) asked about prospects for admission for the children of research officers. Sen. Katz said this group falls into the third category of Columbia officers,  which as a practical matter will not be served.

 

Sen. Silverstein asked if the University has data on the number of research officers’ children eligible to apply to the School. Sen. Katz said the subcommittee was told that as of last year such data are not available even for faculty children. The subcommittee hopes as part of its oversight function to see data of this kind generated and assessed.

Sen. Silverstein said that research officers are the lifeblood of Columbia’s research effort. If Columbia can’t provide good opportunities in the way of schooling for this group, as for example the Rockefeller Institute does, Columbia will not be competitive.

 

Sen. Rebecca Baldwin (Stu., Nursing) asked if there had been discussion of using some of the money now drawn from the fringe benefits pool for financial aid for community children to increase tuition subsidies for faculty families who lose out in the Columbia School lottery.

 

Sen. Katz said the subcommittee has made this case several times, and will continue to make it.

He said the group has focused this year on the problems in the admissions process.

 

Sen. Eugene Galanter (Ten., A&S/NS) asked if Columbia really has no statistics on how many faculty want to send their children to the School. Sen. Katz said the subcommittee was told there are no such data. The previous provost also did not gather such data. Sen. Katz said this is why Columbia might not have been able to fulfill the promise of a right to admission even without the commitment to community children.

 

Sen. Peter Platt (Fac., Barnard) said he had heard that there were 83 applicants for the Columbia slots this year. Sen. Katz supposed that number included the non-faculty officers. He added that there are no numbers on potential future demand for the School if it is successful.

 

Sen. Ira Goldberg (Ten., HS) asked if thought had been given to expanding kindergarten and the lower grades.  Sen. Katz said the subcommittee had not discussed that idea, thought it might have come up in planning for the School

 

Sen. Frances Schoonmaker (Fac., TC) suggested devoting a meeting of the Senate faculty caucuses to this topic.

 

Reports:

--Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing (Prof. Merritt Fox, chair):

Prof. Fox said the ACSRI was formed in March 2000, with a mandate to advise the Trustees on issues on corporate and social responsibility confronting the university as an investor.  The committee consists of four faculty members, four alumni and four students.  The students are nominated and the president appoints them from the student caucus of the University Senate.  The ACSRI’s 2004-05 agenda, distributed before the present meeting, was developed in meetings this fall, including an open community hearing in November.

 

The ACSRI’s main work is to review proxy proposals, on issues ranging from  energy and the environment to animal welfare, labor conditions, human rights, problems of HIV AIDS, pharmaceutical pricing and access, military weapons and handgun production and sales, and corporate political contributions.  There are also a number of corporate governance proposals, but the committee has generally not made made recommendations on these, seeing them as peripheral to their work. The committee will look more closely at those proposals now, and may take up some of them up.

 

Now available on the ACSRI Website is an expanded accounting for every committee decision, including the main arguments, the vote, and the Trustees’ decision on the ACSRI recommendation. This purpose of this document is not only to report back to the University community, but also to provide feedback to proxy proponents and also to corporations. Sometimes, for example, ACSRI members share the sentiments of the proponent, but decline to support the proxy because of the wording or some other practical consideration. 

 

The ACSRI is considering whether to expand this effort to include some direct communication with proxy proponents or corporations. The group is also seeking to expand its own knowledge, by meeting with experts on particular issues, and trying to incorporate more University expertise.

 

Prof. Fox concluded by anticipating a busy spring proxy season and reminding the Senate that he will be reporting again at the last meeting of the academic year.

 

The president thanked Prof. Fox for his report.

 

--Report from Student Affairs:

--Joint Report (with Faculty Affairs) on Academic Freedom and Student Grievance Procedures: Sen. Ariel outlined the three points of the joint statement. The first upholds the principles of academic freedom identified in chapter 7 of the University Statues in connection with officers of instructions, and says that they apply in important ways to students as well. The second reaffirms the customary procedures for pursuing a grievance against a faculty member that were reviewed at the November Senate meeting. The third recommends adding student members to future committees charged to investigate student grievances of this kind.

 

Sen. Ariel said the Student Affairs Committee met with A&S Vice President Nicholas Dirks on this issue, but it was not resolved. He hoped for a resolution in the near future.   

 

Wayne Blair, the Associate Ombuds Officer, pointed out that students are free to speak with the ombuds office at any time in a grievance process, not just at the particular stage identified in 2d of the joint statement—after talking to a dean of vice president, but before talking to the provost.

 

Sen. Ariel requested and received unanimous consent  from the Senate for a brief statement from Ariel Beery, a GS student and nonsenator who had participated in the David Project film “Columbia Unbecoming.”

 

--Ariel Beery’s statement:  Mr. Beery expressed concern about the composition of the A&S ad hoc faculty committee recently formed to investigate complaints presented in the film “Columbia Unbecoming.” He said the American legal system teaches the importance of impartiality in any case where two sides of a story are being presented. He said some members of the committee have personal or professional ties to one of the faculty members named in the film, a state of affairs that may undermine the credibility of the committee’s work, and of Columbia University.

 

Mr. Beery hoped that by creating another, more impartial investigating committee, possibly with student representation, the University can soon get over the present difficulties, which he said everyone involved in the current controversy regrets.

 

Sen. Litwak said that any evaluation of work in an academic setting recognizes the principle that personal friends or close work associates don’t belong on the evaluating committee. If it is impossible to find neutral evaluators, then overall impartiality through a balance of opposing views should be a priority.  He said that committee members with ties to one of the professors named should recuse themselves from issues involving allegations in the film “Columbia Unbecoming.” He thought Mr. Beery’s request was well within the tradition of academic and scholarly judgment.

 

Sen. James Applegate (Ten., A&S/NS) understood that the purpose of the new A&S committee  is not to evaluate the David Project film in particular, but academic freedom generally. He guessed that virtually no one in the room had seen the film. What is known is that there are allegations, which have been discussed in Spectator and elsewhere in the press. Because the charges are presented in a film by an advocacy group, Sen. Applegate said he was at least suspicious that they might be overblown. Having to listen in class to an articulate and forceful presentation of an opinion with which one vehemently disagrees can be rather intimidating, and can sound like political indoctrination, but it’s not, provided one has the ability to express one’s own opinions. This is a very important part of education, Sen. Applegate said, and the freedom to do this in a classroom is crucial for any university. Sen. Applegate said he knew some of the members on the committee, and was confident the group could do an excellent job. 

 

Sen. Jeremy Waldron said he understood that the new A&S committee is dedicated to resolving the current controversy in advance of a different committee, addressing the issue of rules.  He agreed with Sen. Litwak’s emphasis on an ethic of detachment, insisting that the people on the committee must not be associates of or past teachers of people involved in this dispute, and must not have been embroiled in related issues before. The reason for this, Sen. Waldron said, was identified by Mr. Beery: the matter should be put to rest. 

 

Sen. Waldron said a bad outcome would be for the committee to give a report that is criticized as a whitewash. He said the claim is not that people have been exposed to certain opinions, but that people have been intimidated.

 

Sen. Ralph Holloway (Ten., A&S/SS) said he had read an article in Spectator about the committee, but was still confused about the membership. He said he also knew some of the members, and did not share Sen. Applegate’s confidence in the group’s ability to do a good job.

 

The president said the members are SIPA Dean Lisa Anderson, Prof. Ira Katznelson (Political Science),  Prof. Mark Mazower (History), Jean Howard (Vice Provost for Diversity Initiatives), and Prof. Farah Griffin (English). Floyd Abrams, the well-known First Amendment attorney, is advising the committee. 

 

The president said there are many allegations circulating around the institution. He had decided, after reviewing the grievance procedures in Arts and Sciences, that they are not adequate for dealing with the current controversy. He said the present committee was set up to deal with the present situation, and is open to any grievances.  In due course the University will adopt a permanent grievance procedure.  The president said he knows the individuals involved, and has great trust in them to be able to think through the questions that may be presented to them, including conflict of interest.  In general, he said, a university lives by a norm of peer review,  and that sometimes or often means that judgments about promotion, tenure and the like are made by faculty who know each other, and are friends and past collaborators with the people under review. There is a belief that in general faculty are able to reach judgments even about colleagues with whom they may have fairly close relations.

 

The president said that in general, over time, universities have successful methods for dealing with range of issues of abuse in the classroom, mostly through a very informal system of grievances. Certain kinds of problems, like sexual harassment, are partitioned off and treated in quite formal ways. But complaints stemming from personal interactions are successfully addressed by informal means, he said.

 

The president said he, along with A&S VP Dirks and Provost Brinkley, has made a judgment that the Arts and Sciences does not have a system capable of handling the present controversy. Hence the present effort, including the new committee.

 

Sen. Holloway said, speaking perhaps as a minority of one, that he was skeptical about the balance on the committee.

 

Sen. Bradley Bloch (Alum.) asked if there are written or informal guidelines on conflict of interest that could settle complaints of the kind that have been raised about this committee.

 

The president said he was not aware of a set of formal rules on conflict of interest for various decisions, such as those involving promotion and tenure. The University lives more by customs and norms and informal understandings, on the whole successfully, he thought.

 

There are many uncertainties about the committee, the president said. It is not clear whether grievances will be filed, or, if so, what they will say or which faculty they may name. It is also not yet clear how the ad hoc committee will deliberate, or whether or how much its findings will be made public.

 

Sen. Ariel said similar committees, including committes on instruction, the University Judicial Board on the Rules of Conduct, and Senate Rules Committee, have student members. He asked the president if he supported having student members on the A&S ad hoc committee.

 

The president said that at this point he preferred leaving this an all-faculty committee.  He said the question of student representation is a reasonable one, and he would refer it to the committee.

 

In anwer to a question from Sen. Silverstein, the president said the ad hoc committee’s charge is to consider grievances from students of violations of responsibility of faculty in the classroom, particularly allegations of intimidation because of the students’ viewpoints. The intellectual climate on campus is not in the committee’s charge.

 

Sen. Clifford Siskin (Ten., A&S/Hum) asked the president what specifically had led him to decide that grievant procedures in place were inadequate.

 

The president said he had asked Provost Brinkley and A&S VP Dirks to conduct the review of the grievance procedures and to report back to him. They concluded that the procedures were inadequate.  The president repeated his earlier point that individual units generally handle grievances of this kind informally and successfully. Those in charge invite students to meet with faculty, or discuss complaints with individual faculty members, or with students. But he thought the issues that have been raised around the Department of Middle Eastern and Asian Languages and Cultures (MEALAC)  have not been successfully addressed, in the department, the Arts and Sciences, or the University. 

 

The president said he was talking not only about grievances, but also about complaints from students about the way they feel, about the intellectual atmosphere. He would have hoped that such complaints could be addressed in informal ways at the local level. It is this perspective, he said, that has led to the recommendation that the current grievance procedure is inadequate.

 

Sen. Siskin asked if the president was saying that students had tried to present a complaint to the department and been turned back.

 

The president said he did not want to make a particular allegation. He was reporting an impression that he had received after listening to a number of students over a period of time. He was not speaking only about the department. but about the whole institution, which he said has not provided adequate means of addressing certain kinds of concerns.  In general, he said, the institution should have been dealing with these general questions of intellectual character and climate earlier and at a more local level.

 

New business from Education:

            --M.A. in Journalism: Sen. Letty Moss-Salentijn (Ten., SDOS), chair of Education, presented the resolution. She invited Journalism Dean Nicholas Lemann and Associate Dean Evan Cornog to speak.

 

Dean Lemann said the School of Journalism was established with a gift from Joseph Pulitzer in 1903.  It opened its doors in 1912 as an undergraduate degree-granting school.  In 1934, 70 years ago, it was reconstituted as a graduate school.  At that time the school’s faculty petitioned the University to be allowed to grant a two-year Master of Arts degree, and were turned down for reasons that are lost in the mists of Columbia history.  So the school was constituted as a graduate school granting a one-year Master of Science degree. The school was now asking again, seventy years later, to be permitted to grant the MA.

 

Dean Lemann said the MA would involve an optional second year after the MS, quite different in character. The program attempts to marry the School of  Journalism to the rest of the university in a way very much in line with what Mr. Pulitzer intended when he established the school. Instead of majoring in the skills associated with a delivery mechanism for journalism, such as television, radio, etc., students will major in a broad subject area, receiving intense instruction specifically tailored to journalists, in fundamental concepts co-taught by Journalism and other faculty. In addition, the school proposes to teach a required history course and a methods course, and to permit students to take courses elsewhere in the university.

 

Dean Lemann concluded that the MA degree represents an historic step forward for the Journalism School, and for journalism education in the United States. Visitors from all over the world are already asking about the program. He appealed for Senate support.

The president asked Sen. Moss-Salentijn to present her committee’s other two resolutions, so the Senate could vote on all three at once.

 

--M.S. in Business Research:  Sen. Moss-Salentijn explained that the proposed degree is intended for students who are not going to continue with their Ph.D. research, but have completed all the course work and the appropriate examinations. It is a credential that will be recognized in the business world.

 

Sen. Silverstein asked why the proposal says that in some cases a research project is necessary, in other not.

 

Dean Frank Wolf of the School of Continuing Education, a member of the Education Committee subcommittee that had reviewed the proposal said the proposed degree would be offered in five different departments of the Business School, with varying requirements

 

--M.S. in Landscape Design (School of Continuing Education): Sen. Moss-Salentijn put the proposal forward.

 

Sen. James Schmid (Stu., Bus.) asked for more details about the program. Dean Wolf said that in contrast to landscape architecture, a licensed field requiring extensive and technical training for large-scale projects, the proposed program is the first of its kind. It would prepare it graduates for small-scale residential landscape design, and it does not assume any particular background.

 

The Senate unanimously approved all three Education Committee proposals.

 

President’s report:  The president said there has been good progress in getting the capital campaign under way, and in a few days he hoped to announce some very significant gifts.

 

He offered congratulations to Richard Axel and his collaborator Linda Buck  (now at the University of Washington) for winning the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine a week ago.

 

Columbia is proceeding with plans for a science building at the northwest corner of the Morningside campus (an announcement the president said he had made several times already, apparently to little effect), and is in the final stages of selecting an architect.  

 

The president announced, to applause, that among the senators in the room was a new University Professor, Jeremy Waldron.

 

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

 

                                                                                    Respectfully submitted,

 

 

                                                                                    Tom Mathewson, Senate staff