University Senate                                                                      Proposed: February 23, 2007







Executive Committee chairman Paul Duby (Ten., SEAS), in the absence of President Lee Bollinger, called the Senate to order shortly before 1:30 pm in 107 Jerome Green Hall. Fifty-five of 97 senators were present during the meeting.


Adoption of the agenda: Sen. Christopher Riano asked for the addition of a short update from Sen. Kimberly Gaston (Social Work) on Manhattanville-related issues.


Adoption of the minutes: The transcript of December 8, 2006 was adopted as distributed.


Executive Committee chairman’s report: Sen. Duby wished senators a happy new year, and hoped they were ready for a busy spring Senate session. He said that one agenda item, a report from Physical Development, had been postponed, in a unanimous decision of the Executive Committee after an extensive discussion on January 19.  He said the report, an account of the planning process for the Northwest Corner science building, was excellent, but Physical Development had sent it to senior administrators only a week before the present meeting, and the Executive Committee wanted to give administrators more time to read the report and respond. Sen. Duby expected the report to reach the Senate in February.


The other agenda items discussed by the Executive Committee were the report and resolution of Structure and Operations.  Sen. Duby hoped for a Senate vote on the resolution, a By-laws amendment.  In response to a question from the floor, Howard Jacobson, associate general counsel and Senate parliamentarian, affirmed that the resolution would require a super-majority.


Sen. Bradley Bloch (Alum.), chairman of Physical Development, summarized the committee’s deliberations in preparing its report. It had been distributed to all the people who had been interviewed by the committee, as well as a number of senior administrators, at the same time as it was distributed to the Executive Committee. Before that the committee had spent several months in intensive discussion of its findings, which had been assembled last year, in a search for measured suggestions for improving the capital allocation process within the university. He did not want the Senate to have the impression that the report went out without extensive checking with concerned parties, including showing them minutes of meetings in which they had participated.  The report had been extensively reviewed by at least one member of the senior administration. But Sen. Bloch said he welcomed the extra time for decision makers to review the document more carefully and comment upon this important issue.


Sen. Duby mentioned another Executive Committee activity on January 19—a luncheon meeting of the faculty and student members of Exec with Senate committee chairs to identify a Senate agenda for this spring. The remaining plenary dates are February 23;  March 30, when Trustee chair William Campbell will make a presentation and answer questions; and the final meeting, which Sen. Duby said was being moved back a week, from April 27 to May 4, to accommodate changes in the president’s schedule.


Sen. Duby announced a reception at the president’s house on February 5 to mark the publication of Living Legacies at Columbia, a collection of essays mostly about important 20th-century figures in Columbia’s intellectual history.  The editor is Prof. Theodore deBary, who was also a founding father of the Senate, serving as its first Executive Committee chairman, from 1969 to 1971. Sen. Duby said all senators were invited.


Sen. Michael Adler (Ten., Bus.) asked about Senate documentation and reports on gender discrimination at Columbia.  Sen. Duby said this issue is in the mandate of the Senate Commission on the Status of Women, which has reported from time to time, particularly on problems with salary and employment.


Sen. Sharyn O’Halloran (Ten., SIPA) noted that a Commission study on the “academic pipeline,” presented to the Senate in 2001, has been updated periodically.  Sen. O’Halloran had also presented the pipeline study elsewhere.  As for salaries, she referred Sen. Adler to the provost, because that information is normally not available, except sometimes in aggregate form.


Sen. O’Halloran said the pipeline study is on the Web site of the provost’s Office of Planning and Institutional Research, which is led by Lucy Drotning.


Sen. Duby said reports of the Commission on the Status of Women are also on the Senate Web site, which could also provide links to the provost’s site.


Sen. Daniel Savin (Research Officers) said the Research Officers Committee, which he chairs, and the Commission on the Status of Women, along with Jean Howard and Lucy Drotning’s office, have been carrying out a study on gender equity and also ethnic equity in salaries among research officers. He expected his committee to be reporting on this study later in the semester.  He noted that researchers have a more equitable male-female ratio than faculty do.


At this point, the secretary said the Senate was a few members short of the three-fifths super-majority needed to adopt the By-laws amendment proposed by Structure and Operations.


Committee Reports

--STUDENT AFFAIRS:  Sen. Kimberly Gaston (Stu., Social Work) offered an update on issues she had raised in her November 16 report to the Senate on communication problems related to Manhattanville. She said a few members of Student Affairs, as well as the president of Students for Community Involvement, a group at the School of Social Work, had met in December with Senior Executive Vice President Robert Kasdin and Victoria Mason-Ailey of the Community Affairs Office.  The meeting was productive, with an understanding that the disconnect in communication identified by students could be overcome by providing more information about the Manhattanville initiative. The students and Ms. Mason-Ailey agreed to meet weekly, and Student Affairs may pass on the updates in a newsletter it hopes to begin producing soon.  There also may be a weekly update in Spectator, as well as an online discussion board, either on the Senate Student Affairs Website or Columbia’s Manhattanville Website. 

Sen. Gaston said VP Kasdin had also agreed to meet with students as often as necessary. In addition, the provost’s Student Advisory Committee on Campus Planning and Development will hold its first meeting on February 2.


Sen. O’Halloran added that she would also be giving a Manhattanville update to the Columbia College Student Council in the near future.


Sen. Gaston said there have also been meetings with deans about how to reach out to students, and a generally positive reception so far to student concerns about Manhattanville. But these concerns remain. 


            --STRUCTURE AND OPERATIONS: Sen. Riano, the chair, reviewed a few issues his committee had been addressing:


Resolution to conduct reapportionment surveys at five-year rather than two-year intervals:  Sen. Riano noted that the resolution would affect only tenured faculty and students. He expressed disappointment at the postponement.


Senate vacancies, elections, and observers: Sen. Riano said 97 of a total of 107 voting Senate seats are now filled.  Five of the 19 Arts and Sciences faculty seats are vacant.  His committee has discussed faculty elections a lot, including the possibility of replacing chronically non-competitive elections with a procedure of self-nomination (essentially volunteering).  The committee unanimously decided not to abandon the elections process.


Sen. Riano said his committee has made some revisions to the Elections Code, which it can do without Senate action. Candidates may no longer use e-mail lists that they may have access to by way of their position or job in campaigning for election to the Senate. 


Sen. Riano reviewed the rule that allows any eligible member of a constituency to run for the Senate, whether or not he or she would be able to serve a full two-year term. The committee also decided that elected senators are eligible to serve a full two-year term, whether or not they are elected to replace a senator who did not complete his or her two-year term. Formerly, senators elected in “by-elections” to fill an unexpected vacancy were only allowed to complete the term of the senator they had replaced.


Another innovation, explicitly approved by Structure and Operations, is the idea of

“shadow” student senators, who are elected to a seat before the end of the incumbent’s term,  serving a kind of apprenticeship in the position before taking on the seat’s full voting responsibilities when the incumbent steps down.  This practice is partly an attempt to provide continuity in Senate service for schools with short degree programs (like SIPA), which allow less time to master the Senate learning curve. 


Sen. Riano said there is only one position formally defined as a non-voting observer seat in the Senate. It belongs to the student representative from Union Theological Seminary, who is now David Fraccaro. Teachers College, which used to have two non-voting observers, has only one voting senator, who is now Antonios Saravanos. But there is now an informal observer for SEAS graduate students, a group that now has no formal Senate representation.  Sen. Riano also mentioned other constituencies without formal Senate representation that are taking part in some student caucus deliberations.


Ad Hoc Online Learning and Digital New Media Committee:  Sen. Riano said his committee has been mulling the future of Online Leaning, debating whether to let it expire and incorporate its functions into the mandates of two related committees—Education and Libraries—or to redefine it, perhaps as a standing information technology committee.


Executive Committee composition: Sen. Riano noted that Sen. Savin has brought back a proposal—similar to one voted down by the Senate two years ago—to add a research officer to the Executive Committee.  This discussion has led to a consideration of the extent to which Exec should reflect the composition of the full Senate. One possibility is to provide a rotating seat, to be shared among the smaller Senate constituencies—research officers, librarians, administrative officers, and alumni. Sen. Riano expected the question of whether and how to provide equitable representation for consituencies not now represented on Exec to continue for some time


Errors in the Statutes: Structure and Operations has devoted attention at recent meetings to errors in the Statutes.  Some are on the order of typos. The committee is not authorized to correct Statutory errors, Sen. Riano said, but he wanted to alert the Senate that the University’s laws retain these flaws.


Sen. James Applegate (Ten., A&S/NS) asked how serious the errors are.  Mr. Jacobson, the parliamentarian, said Structure and Operations was not concerned mainly about typos, but about what he called anomalies in the Statutes, cases where, for one reason or another, the Statutes are misaligned with current practices. 


Mr. Jacobson said these anomalies are not in the part of the Statutes concerned with the Senate. He said the Secretary’s Office would normally be taking the lead in correcting them. Serious, substantive errors get fixed, but there are other anomalies, aside from typos.


Sen. Javier Groshaus (Research Officers) asked how Senate observers are designated. Sen Riano said the formal step of adding an observer requires a By-laws amendment.


Mr. Jacobson understood that at the founding of the Senate there were student observers from Teachers College and UTS. He wondered why there was no observer from Jewish Theological Seminary.  Sen. Riano said JTS undergraduates are now represented by the GS student senator.


Mr. Jacobson said other affiliated institutions seeking observer status for a student representative could submit a proposal to Structure and Operations.


Sen. Riano said there is an informal observer for graduate students in Engineering, partly because the committee is in the process of enlarging the Engineering constituency to include graduate students for the first time.  The observer is helping to prepare his constituency for participation in its first Senate election this spring.  The Engineering School is somewhat unique in having degree programs for both undergraduate and graduate students.

Sen. James Neal (Admin.), Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian, noted that the master’s degree in library service is still listed in the University Statutes.  He suggested resolving the discrepancy by bringing back the School. 


Turning to the question of the future of the Online Learning Committee, Sen. Neal pointed out that within the Libraries are the Center for New Media Teaching and Learning, the library’s digital program, Digital Knowledge Ventures, the newly established Center for Digital Scholarship—a whole array of initiatives that touch directly on new media and online learning.  There is also a standing committee within the Senate—Libraries—that oversees the work of CUIT and the university libraries, and he has been been bringing issues related to online learning and new media to the attention of the committee, chaired by Sens. Frances Pritchett and Samuel Silverstein.  So there is some overlap in these functions, Sen. Neal said.


Sen. Riano agreed, adding that Education is studying related issues of distance learning. Sen. Neal said Education’s primary contacts on distance learning have been with Information Services units like Digital Knowledge Ventures and the Center for New Media Teaching and Learning.


Education Committee chair Letty Moss-Salentijn (Ten, Dental School) agreed, and said there should be a closer working relationship between her committee and Information Services.


Sen. O’Halloran suggested that this important discussion should proceed before the Structure and Operations Committee. She said Online Learning, which she chairs, grew out of the discussion of, with a very particular purpose.  It has evolved into an information technology group, partly because its docket included the recent integration of Academic Computing and Information Systems (ACIS) with Administrative Information Systems (AIS), and committee members had the expertise to understand this process. 


Sen. O’Halloran said there is appropriately another committee addressing these issues—the Libraries and ACIS Committee.  Should Libraries turn over the ACIS component to a new IT committee?  She said Candace Fleming, EVP for Information Technology, who was at the meeting, now has a rapidly growing operation, with a budget of about $24 million. For Sen. O’Halloran, the question was, Does such an enterprise require its own standing committee?


Sen. O’Halloran added that it is essential that all academic program proposals—and there are many online courses now being developed within Columbia schools and departments—continue to go through Education, with the same review process as for any new program. But she called for further discussion of whether topics like digital media issues, the problem of emergency e-mail backup, and infrastructure investments belong to the Libraries Committee or some other committee.  Regardless of what structure is chosen, she said, there should be some overlap in membership between Education and Libraries.


Sen. Graciela Chichilnisky (Ten., A&S/SS) asked for some reassurance about the nature of the Statutory anomalies that are more serious than typos.


She also asked whether information relevant to grievances about gender discrimination in salaries was not available.

Sen. Penelope Boyden (Ten. CUMC), co-chair of Faculty Affairs, said her committee had been discussing salary issues with the provost, and had gotten the message that the administration will not provide even aggregate salary information.  However, this kind of information is being gathered, at least at the Medical School when chairs and deans get together.  She was not clear about whether that could also be done on the Morningside campus. 


Sen. Chichilnisky asked how a grievance could be resolved if the information was not available.

Sen. Boyden said Faculty Affairs is now participating in the revision of the Faculty Handbook to make it very clear what the procedural path in the University is for a salary grievance.  Some of these grievances involve the Senate Faculty Affairs Committee and some don’t, she said.


Sen. Adler said the resolution on reapportionment reminded him of congressional redistricting, in which someone always wins and someone else loses. He asked who the winners and losers might be in Senate reapportionment surveys.


Sen. Riano said Senate apportionment for tenured faculty and students depends on population.  Typically there are minor adjustments in seats, if any. In 2005 one Engineering tenured seat was added, student apportionment remained unchanged.


Mr. Jacobson said a main reason for more significant changes in apportionment is a change in the structure of the university, as when the Nursing and Public Health schools became autonomous faculties in the last decade, with each entitled to tenured, nontenured, and student representation in the Senate as a result.


Sen. Chichilinsky asked again about the Statutory anomalies.  Sen. Riano repeated Sen. Neal’s reference to a library school that no longer exists. Mr. Jacobson distinguished between an anomaly and a fact from the university’s history that for one reason or another should continue to be listed in the Statutes.


Sen. Savin understood that the number of tenured senators and students remains unchanged from one apportionment to the next, though there may be some redistribution of seats within that total from one school to another.  Sen. Riano said this understanding was correct.


In response to a question, Sen. Riano said he didn’t remember why his committee chose five years as the interval between reapportionment surveys, as opposed to four or six.


There being no further business, Sen. Duby adjourned the meeting at around 2:30 pm.


Respectfully submitted,



Tom Mathewson, Senate staff