University Senate                                                                      Proposed: October 27, 2006

                                                                                               

Adopted:

 

 

MINUTES OF SEPTEMBER 22, 2006

 

President Lee Bollinger, the chairman, called Senate to order shortly after 1:15 pm in 105 Jerome Greene Hall. Sixty-two of 89 senators were present during the meeting.

 

Minutes and agenda: The minutes of May 5 and the agenda were adopted as proposed. 

 

President’s report: The president hoped for an historic year.  One reason was the launch of the capital campaign, scheduled for September 29.  The goal, $4 billion, will be the highest ever in a university capital campaign, but only for a short time—other universities will soon follow with their own $4 billion capital campaigns.  The campaign is a very big leap, and must match the university’s ambitions. 

 

This is a great time for Columbia, the president said.  He felt a general sense that the university is bursting with energy and success in academic terms, and that the key forces in the modern era, including globalization and recent advances in science, are all highlighted here, particularly because of Columbia’s location in the word’s greatest city.,

 

The president stressed that the campaign will be for every segment of the university.

 

He mentioned some major gifts from the previous two years which helped make the case that a $4 billion capital campaign is indeed possible.  Trustee Jerry Lenfest gave $48 million to create a match for professorships in arts and sciences and the law school.  Mr. Lenfest is now one of Columbia’s largest donors, the president said, with over $100 million in gifts.  Another wonderful gift was the $200 million bequest announced last March from Dawn Greene in honor of her husband Jerry Greene for the mind-brain initiative. 

 

The other potentially historic development this year involves Manhattanville, the president said, particularly the prospect of having for the first time in many decades a space that will be enable the university to expand for several more decades.  He said it’s difficult for those who work and teach daily here and know about real estate development and institutional development in New York City to get excited about a project like this until it seems real, but he hoped to be able by the end of the academic year to say Manhattanville is real.

 

The president expressed appreciation for the work that people in Facilities and Community Affairs and other offices had put into producing Columbia’s Environmental Impact Statement for the Manhattanville rezoning effort. The document, more than a thousand pages long, deals with everything from shadows to traffic to noise to scale to housing effects.  The president’s hope was that by mid autumn the city will certify Columbia’s Environmental Impact Statement. The next step is the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), a seven-and-a-half-month rezoning process that culminates in a City Council vote. This is a very complicated phase, whose outcome the president declined to predict, but he expressed optimism.

 

Columbia is also in constant discussion with the community, the president said. The city has arranged for the university to discuss community benefits with an organization called the LDC, Local Development Corporation, that has been set up by Community Board 9, whose territory includes Manhattanville.  The president hoped to reach a sound and good agreement with the LDC sometime this fall about what Columbia can do for the community.  He emphasized that this would be a labor of love, because Columbia wants to help the surrounding communities.

 

Other projects for the present academic year are a task force on undergraduate education that may report in the spring and a group that will think about what a global health initiative might look like at Columbia, drawing in schools and departments across the institution.  There are also deanships to fill in the Schools of the Arts, Public Health, and International and Public Affairs. 

 

Sen. Michael Adler (Ten., Bus.) understood from the president’s remarks that there’s little risk that Manhattanville will not go forward.  He also wondered how badly Columbia’s plans might be compromised by agreements with the community.

 

The president said the likelihood that the Manhattanville development would be completely blocked or abandoned is, at this point, very small.  The city is very much behind Columbia’s expansion plan.  So is Governor Pataki; so is Democratic gubernatorial candidate Elliott Spitzer.  Congressman Charles Rangel has said he supports it.  The president identified a consensus in the elected political community that, for the sake of the city and quite apart from other reasons, Columbia’s expansion would be spectacular and much needed.

 

To Sen. Adler’s second question, the president said there are many things Columbia can do for the community.  None of them blocks the plans or modifies them in significant ways; if anything, they enhance the plans. One example is the kind of campus Columbia wants to build, 18 acres (six million square feet) of space that will be more integrated into the life of the surrounding community than past campuses.  The Morningside campus became a self-contained, closed space; the buildings, the facades, really do not invite people inside.  The plan for Manhattanville is to keep the streets open.  The major thoroughfares, 125th Street and Broadway, would be animated by retail at the street level.  There would be a visual and passageway integration with the new area on the river as well as with surrounding spaces.  The School of the Arts will move there, and some of its space will be shared with public institutions and the community. In addition, the design of the buildings will emphasize glass rather than granite and brick.  The very conception of the campus is not a concession so much as an integration with the community, and is part of what the university conceives to be community benefits.

 

Another practical step is Columbia’s commitment to work with the city on the creation of a public high school, with a special emphasis on science and technology.  It will be a citywide school on the model of Bronx Science and Stuyvesant, and very selective, but with special opportunities for young people from upper Manhattan, including Harlem. Columbia will provide academic support—teacher training lectures, opportunities for graduate students to teach, opportunities for students in the high school to work in Columbia laboratories, and so on. 

The university also wants to work on affordable housing with the city and with the surrounding communities, the president said, and there are actions Columbia can take toward this end.  It also wants to work with arts and environmental groups, and with afterschool and health programs.  None of these steps would compromise Columbia’s use of the Manhattanville space. 

 

Sen. Adler asked if Columbia would be barred from building overpasses over the streets that would provide continuity within the campus.  He also asked if all the planned community involvement wouldn’t result in a huge security problem.

 

The president said Columbia’s aesthetic and institutional values, as he conceives them, argue against having connectors between buildings.  He said connectors between New York City buildings are sometimes effective.  But in general, Columbia’s goal of maintaining a streetscape with people walking around and using facilities and restaurants really calls for having separate buildings. 

 

On the other matter, the president said there is virtually no safety problem in the Manhatttanville area.  A year ago, when the president last checked the statistics, the precinct in which Columbia sits, including Manhattanville, was the fifth-safest in the entire city. 

 

Sen. Peter Strauss (Ten., Law) asked if the University’s generous new commitment to support the Columbia College and undergraduate Engineering School tuition of families earning less than $50,000 a year could be extended to the professional and graduate schools.

 

The president said need-blind admissions is a fundamental precept of Columbia College, but is not the policy of every Columbia division.  He said there is a general recognition that Columbia students should be able to make life choices with minimal impact of loan commitments made during school.  There are no plans now for further expansion of the new financial aid policy, but financial aid is a high priority of the capital campaign. 

 

Sen. Strauss said there are some other need-blind Columbia schools, which perhaps also have a valid claim to be included in the new policy. The president said the further the policy could be extended, the better, but the money has to come from the capital campaign.

 

Sen. Bradley Bloch (Alum.) asked when the next design for Manhattanville would be available for general comment.

 

The president said there have been general images, and some programming for the mind/brain/behavior institute and the new School of the Arts. There hasn’t been a decision about the third main academic element of phase one in Manhattanville.  The president said it’s no secret that the Business School is thinking seriously about moving to Manhattanville, but an arrangement has not been worked out yet.

 

The president said the phase of schematic designs will begin this fall, in anticipation of a successful outcome of the ULURP process.  He hoped to have much more detailed designs in the fall to distribute for comment.

 

Sen. James Neal (Admin.), Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian, announced that the Libraries will be capturing all documents and objects related to the Manhattanville project for archiving as part of the Avery Collection.  He hoped the deliberative process for Manhattanville will serve as a model for other institutions and cities.

 

Sen. Tiffany Davis (Stu., CC) noted recent decisions by Harvard and Princeton to terminate their early decision programs, partly to enable prospective students to compare financial aid packages. She asked if Columbia has similar plans.

 

The president said Columbia has no present plans to change early decision.  But he added that Columbia is always thinking about its admissions policies, and that now is a good time to look more closely at early decision.

 

One important argument for modifying or abandoning early decision is that colleges end up with fewer students of middle or lower socioeconomic status, and a less diverse student body, the president said.  He stressed that Columbia already has a very strong record on social diversity.  For example, 14 percent of Columbia students receive Pell Grants, which means their families’ annual incomes are $45,000 or less—the highest rate in the Ivies. Harvard’s fraction, by contrast, is about 8 percent, up from 6 percent a couple of years ago. 

           

Columbia has also had a reputation of being open to students from low- and middle- income families, a perception attributable in part to its location in New York City.

 

The president sensed some symbolism in the argument on early decision, which he took seriously. He recognized the argument that the trend with early decision is analogous to trends in major college athletics, pushing institutions to enhance their competitiveness, at some cost.  He added the importance of remembering that colleges are dealing with 17- and 18-year-olds.

 

Sen. Alan Brinkley (Admin.), the provost, added that Columbia College never requires students who receive a better financial aid offer elsewhere to observe the terms of early decision. 

 

Report of the Executive Committee chairman:  Executive Committee chairman Paul Duby (Ten., SEAS) welcomed all senators, and mentioned 24 new ones by name, asking them to raise their hands.

 

Sen. Duby said 95 of the Senate’s 107 seats are now occupied, but a few elections remain to be certified.  Faculty elections at the Medical Center and in Engineering are late.

           

Sen. Duby was pleased to report that the Executive Committee did not have to use its summer powers.  Some other committees kept working, and would report later in the meeting. 

           

At its meeting on September 15, the Executive Committee did its regular September duties, staffing committees and, in particular, updating rosters of the people who maintain the Rules of Conduct governing political rallies and demonstrations.  He said there was also a decision to hold a town hall meeting about Manhattanville on October 27, open to anyone with a CUID. There will be a presentation, some participation by administrators, and discussion including the audience.

 

Nominations to committees: Sen. Duby asked the Senate to vote on the three new nominees to the Executive Committee recently chosen by the student caucus: Sens. Marcus Johnson (CC), Chris Riano (GS), and Eric Lowery (Bus.). The Senate elected them without discussion.

 

Sen. Duby then requested Senate approval of the standing committee roster, which lists the members of all Senate committees.  Sen. Riano, co-chair of the student caucus, listed three new student nominees to committees that the caucus had approved in a meeting just before the present one: David Ali to Libraries; David Ressel to Honors and Prizes, and Julia Stoyanovich to Education.

 

The Senate then approved the standing committee roster without dissent.

 

Reports from committees

            Research Officers:  Sen. Daniel Savin (Res.), the chairman, said the committee’s main accomplishment last year was its contribution to the new Columbia policy on misconduct in research.  He said these deliberations were a good example of the important role the Senate can play in shaping university policy.  Research officers suggested many changes to the initial draft policy, and the administration accepted most of them.  But two issues remained outstanding—the definition of witnesses in misconduct cases, and safeguards for them—remained unresolved when the policy went to the Senate floor.  Researchers and students co-sponsored amendments on these subjects which were resoundingly passed by the Senate and included in the new policy.

 

These deliberations also revealed a structural flaw in the Senate, Sen. Savin said.  If the administration had brought the policy to the Senate during the summer, as occurred with a patents policy in 1982, the Executive Committee could have used its summer powers to pass it. In such a case, research officers would not have had an opportunity to vet an important policy which guides their work, because there are no research officers on the Executive Committee. This is another reason, Sen. Savin said, why there should be a research officer on that committee. 

 

In the coming year, Sen. Savin said, his committee’s highest priority issue is a gender equity salary study of researchers that that it has requested jointly with the Commission on the Status of Women.  The study is being conducted by Lucy Drotning, associate provost in the Office of Planning and Institutional Research, and her assistant, Jose Uribe.  Sen. Savin thanked the administration for working with the committee on this issue. He hoped to present the study’s results to the Senate later in the year.

 

Another important issue is faculty titles.  The research officer titles associate research scientist or scholar, research scientist or scholar, and senior research scientist or scholar are parallel, according to the Faculty Handbook, to the instructional titles assistant professor, associate professor, and full professor.  However, funding agencies do not recognize this equivalence.  For example, NSF program managers have told research officers that they cannot apply to the Early Career Development program because their titles do not include the word professor.  Since women make up a large fraction of the junior ranks among professional research officers, this appears to be affecting disproportionately affecting them. Sen. Savin concluded that changing researcher officers’ titles to some variation of research professor or professor of research could do a lot to help young women scientists and scholars create a career in academia.

 

Sen. Savin drew the Senate’s attention to the recent New York Times article “Bias is Hurting Women in Science,” which had been distributed at his request for the present meeting.  He said his committee believes that current titles for Columbia researchers are one of the “outmoded institutional structures” that the article says hinder women’s chances to advance in science.

 

Sen. Savin mentioned three other issues the committee will address this year:

1.                  Post-docs.  Columbia has recently established an office of post-doctoral affairs, run by Beth Israel, who has recently finished a survey of post-docs. The committee will meet her in November to discuss her findings and discuss ways to improve conditions for post-docs

2.                  Staff associates. The committee has carried out a survey of staff and senior staff associates, who are typically non-Ph.D. researchers carrying out a range of research and administrative duties. The committee will report on the results later in the fall.

3.                  Termination policy:  Sen. Savin said he would address only one aspect of this complex issue now—the renewal of research officer appointments.  Most researchers are on yearly appointments, but they typically do not receive renewal letters from the university until months or years after the appointment expires.  The only way they know they’ve been renewed is by receiving their next month’s paycheck.  There are no formal requirements for notice to researchers of reappointment or termination.  In a number of instances, research officers do not find out they are being terminated until days from the end of their current appointment.  The committee believes this treatment is abusive and disrespectful of research officers, Sen. Savin said. He looked forward to working with the administration to fix this problem this academic year.

 

In response to a question from Sen. Adler, Sen. Savin said the committee had no resolution to present now, but would bring resolutions later this year.

 

Honors and Prizes:  Committee chair Deborah Wolgemuth (Ten., CUMC) called attention to the nomination form for candidates for honorary degrees that the university secretary sends out every year.  Her committee reviews all nominations submitted, she said.  Mostly the nominations received in one year will remain in the book for review in ensuing years. 

 

Sen. Wolgemuth said Secretary Keith Walton had alerted her to a particular dearth of nominations in two categories: the Medal of Excellence and the Emeritus award.  The shortage is surprising because in both of these categories Columbia is honoring its own. The Medal of Excellence is given to a Columbia graduate no older than 45, who is not now at Columbia.  The other honorary degree is given to a particularly distinguished professor emeritus or emerita, who could be any faculty member who has profoundly affected the nominator’s experience here. Sen. Wolgemuth implored senators to think of nominees in both of the underrepresented categories.

 

She acknowledged the daunting appearance of the nomination form, which seems to demand a lot of work. But Googling, followed by cutting and pasting, can supply a lot of the information required. Sen. Wolgemuth also offered to the help of the Senate staff in putting together a nomination. She also offered to respond personally to email requests for help.

           

In response to a question, Sen. Wolgemuth said the due date for nominations to be included in the book for honorary degrees for Commencement 2008 is October 6. But she thought nominations could be submitted later than that for 2008. 

 

In response to a question from Sen. Adler, Sen. Wolgemuth said the emeritus honorary degree could not be awarded posthumously. 

 

Student Affairs: Sen. Riano said he was proud to represent, along with his fellow student senators, the 22,000 plus students at Columbia University. 

 

On recent announcements about expanding financial aid for Columbia undergraduates, Sen. Riano thanked the administration for matching the aid packages that some peer institutions have provided, but added that it was essential to extend this aid to students not only in Columbia College and Engineering School students, but in General Studies as well.  Sen. Riano said a letter to this effect from him and his co-chair, Marcus Johnson (CC), was published in Spectator.

 

Sen. Riano said one unique asset of the Senate student caucus is its ability, with a senator from each school, to “connect the dots” among Columbia divisions. For example, the caucus can help find funding for student groups without funding structures in place, especially in the graduate schools.  Sen. Riano thanked Provost Brinkley for helping the caucus on this issue last year, and hoped to work with him this year to put in place a mechanism to fund these groups.

 

Sen. Riano said student senators are also looking forward to participating in the launching of the capital campaign on September 29.  They will meet with UDAR VP Susan Feagin to discuss other ideas for supporting the campaign.

 

Sen. Riano thanked Sen. Lisa Hogerty, executive vice president for administration and student services, for her help over the summer in implementing a student initiative to provide discounted public transportation for Columbia students.  He looked forward to the start of the new program. 

 

Faculty Affairs: Co-chair Robert Pollack (Ten., A&S/NS) elaborated on a one-paragraph report that was distributed to the Senate as he spoke.

 

He said Faculty Affairs now has co-chairs, one from the Medical Center (Sen. Penelope Boyden) and one from Morningside, because questions that arise on the two campuses are quite different.

This structure has enabled the committee to take on a range of issues, usually in the form of specific faculty grievances.  A professor typically asks the committee to look into whether or not a process that the university rules say should be done one way was done that way or not.  Investigating grievances is very time consuming, Sen. Pollack said. The committee has no subpoena powers, or any other powers for that matter, except for those of persuasion and trust that the committee is trying to figure out what is the right thing to do.

Sen. Pollack said he had no substantive report on any of the large issues that have come before Faculty Affairs.  That report will be at the next meeting, or the one after that. For the time being, he mentioned two issues.  One was the decision to improve undergraduate financial aid packages by diminishing loans and increasing cash for people of small incomes, a decision he said would improve the quality of education down the road.

 

The second issue, mentioned in his committee’s report, involves current rules and practices concerning the appointment of faculty to named chairs, and the relationship of those appointments to donors’ wishes.  This is a sensitive issue, he said, with particular importance at the onset of a capital campaign.  Sen. Pollack hoped to meet with the provost about it before the October Trustee meetings, and report back to the Senate later in the fall.

 

External Relations: Sen. Sharyn O’Halloran (Ten., SIPA), the committee chair, said she has continued working with the administration on the ongoing Manhattanville process.  She has also followed continuing deliberations on the proposed Designated Suppliers Program for Columbia’s logo apparel, after her report to the Senate on this topic in May.  Columbia has joined the working group of a dozen members of the Worker Rights Consortium that is considering the implementation of the DSP.  In a few weeks, Sen. O’Halloran said, a revised version of the DSP will be circulated to WRC member universities for further consideration.

 

New business

Resolution to Establish a Department of Neuroscience (Education):  Committee chair Letty Moss-Salentijn (Ten., CDM) presented the resolution.  She invited the acting chair of the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, Prof. John Koester, to speak.

 

Prof. Koester said the present resolution has been a long time in the making.  The seed was planted in 1974 when Eric Kandel and four colleagues, including himself, were recruited to the Physiology Department uptown to form a division of neurobiology and behavior.  Their mission was to combine various subdisciplines of neuroscience—anatomy anatomy, physiology, cell biology, neurochemistry—into an integrated approach to teaching and research in neuroscience.  That division became a center 22 ago, an interdepartmental unit separate from Physiology.

 

It continued to grow, and now has 50 faculty members, Prof. Koester said. One of its most important contributions has been to form, with colleagues from biology, psychology, and other disciplines, an interdepartmental Ph.D. program in neurobiology and behavior, which now has roughly 80 faculty members  This program spans the two campuses, and effectively integrates neuroscientists both within the center and without.

 

As it has grown the center has taken on many of the responsibilities and the scope of action of a department.  It recruits faculty, and handles faculty development and promotion.  It has space and financial obligations for faculty, and a significant teaching portfolio.  But it has become more difficult to do all these things without the rights and privileges of a full-fledged department.

This is an auspicious time to create a department, Prof. Koester said.  First, neuroscience as a field is undergoing tremendous intellectual ferment.  The experimental and theoretical tools, the problems that are within reach, both in basic science and translational neuroscience, are seemingly boundless.  At Columbia President Bollinger has made tremendous resources available in the form of the new Jerome L. Greene science center, which will house a large number of neuroscientists.  The program in mind, brain, and behavior will help not only to integrate neuroscience at Columbia, but also to promote new interactions between neuroscience and unexpected fields, like economics or law or the arts or social sciences.

 

Sen. Koester said neuroscience is about to enter a golden age at Columbia.  With the blessing of the Senate, a new department will make it possible to maintain a critical intangible asset that allowed the center to prosper. Centers depend on the more powerful departments, and the neurosciences was blessed with extremely collegial support.  The center’s faculty members in other departments, various department chairs, and four generations of administrators on both campuses have all helped to minimize academic turf considerations, and to allow neuroscience to grow in a university-wide fashion. The new department must strive to nurture this collegial spirit. 

 

Sen. Sumeet Shah (Stu., SEAS), asked how his department—Biomedical Engineering—would interact with the new department.  He knew students interested in going into neuroscience.

 

Prof. Koester said the neuroscience center already has good relations with Profs. Van Mow and Paul Sajda of Biomedical Engineering, and one faculty member in the center, Aniruddha Das, also has an appointment in Biomedical Engineering.  He added that the new department in no way intends to try to subsume all neuroscience at Columbia. It will start with 35 members, much smaller than the 80-member interdepartmental Ph.D. program.  But it will try to create as much outreach as possible to other units, including engineering departments.

 

Sen. Ronald Prywes (Ten., A&S/NS) of Biological Sciences asked for clarification of the new department’s relationships with other departments.  Would a neuroscience department move out of present departments where neuroscientists have their own space?  He expressed concern that a new department might deplete departments where neuroscientists are now located.

 

Prof. Koester acknowledged this concern. He said no one will be moving before a new Manhattanville facility comes on line.  What will happen in the short term is that some faculty titles will change.  About one third of the neuroscience center’s faculty are now located in the Psychiatric Institute, and the rest are distributed among various departments.  Creating a new department is potentially destabilizing, and Prof. Koester hoped to minimize that effect as much as possible.  When it comes time to decide who moves to Manhattanville, this issue will have to be addressed, he said, and at a higher level. It will take resources to fill those depleted spaces. 

 

At the same time, Prof. Koester said, the Medical Center has an extreme space shortage, so the new department will also provide a tremendous opportunity for departments there to expand and recruit new faculty, and in fields besides neuroscience.

 

The Senate unanimously approved the resolution to establish the Neuroscience Department.

The president adjourned the meeting at around 2:45 pm.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

Tom Mathewson, Senate staff