University Senate Proposed: September 21, 2007
MEETING OF MAY 4, 2007
President Lee Bollinger, the chairman, called the Senate to order shortly after 1:15 pm in 209 Havemeyer. Fifty-one of 95 senators were present during the meeting.
Minutes and agenda: The agenda was adopted as proposed. The minutes of March 30 were adopted with one addition requested by Sen. Graciela Chichilnisky (Ten., A&S/SS) to the account of her remarks about strengthening salaries for female senior faculty.
The president clarified his sense of the discussion at the March meeting of the report from Faculty Affairs co-chair Robert Pollack (Ten., A&S/NS), which called attention to the predicament of faculty who are not getting grants during the present downturn in federal research funding, and broached the idea of a university policy to aid these faculty. The president said he has his own ideas about the financial priorities, but would be happy to work with Faculty Affairs on this issue, which he had discussed with Executive Vice President for Research David Hirsh, Provost Alan Brinkley, and CUMC Dean Lee Goldman after the March 30 plenary. He said this group would communicate with the committee.
Sen. Daniel Savin (Research Officers) said research officers, like many faculty, are on soft money and suffer from the same kinds of losses of funding. He asked for the inclusion of research officers in the deliberations the president had outlined. The president had no objection.
With these clarifications the Senate approved the minutes of March 30 by voice vote.
President’s report: The president said the 2006-07 academic year had been a very good one. By important measures, including student applications and faculty distinction and productivity, the institution is thriving. There are major issues facing the University, but the administration has developed long-term plans to address them, working with the Senate, the Trustees, and other parties. The multi-year capital campaign, launched last September with a goal of $4 billion, has already brought in more than $2 billion in its first year, not counting the extraordinary recent $400 million gift from John Kluge—the largest gift ever for financial aid, and the fourth-largest gift ever to an American university. There was applause. The president said the gift—to come from Mr. Kluge’s estate—will be equally divided between Columbia College and the rest of the University. He also mentioned the pledge from Dawn Greene—worth about $250 million—for the mind/brain/behavior facility in Manhattanville, the largest gift ever for a single facility in the United States.
Columbia has also been successful in a highly labor-intensive effort to expand participation in its fundraising efforts. The president said Columbia suffers from a history of poor alumni relations, which it has been working hard to overcome in the past 20 years. One effort is the creation of clubs. There are now vital clubs around the country, and more than 40 around the world. A major effort to connect with international alumni has also had a tangible impact on the capital campaign. One way to measure success is to determine wither Columbia meets or exceeds the $4 billion goal in the next five years. Another measure is annual fundraising totals. In 2002, at the start of the Bollinger presidency, Columbia was raising about $270 million a year; the total rose to $340 million two years later, to $370 million the following year, and this year the goal is to exceed $400 million. To provide perspective, the president offered comparative figures for Harvard (over $500 million a year) and Stanford ($900 million last year). To compete at the highest level, the president said, the institution needs to know where it stands, but also to focus on what it does best with the right resources. He said he thought the institution is doing those things.
On the question of space, the president said the Northwest Corner building, for interdisciplinary research in the natural sciences and engineering, with some Medical Center involvement, is on track. For this building, which he said is probably the last major one to be built on the Morningside campus, the architect Rafael Muneo has made an exquisite and extremely daring design. Over time, the president said, the community will celebrate not only the building’s many uses, but also its aesthetic contribution to the campus.
The president said Manhattanville remains the true, long-range, multi-decade space for Columbia’s growth. In the present academic year, the School of the Arts has started to move to Manhattanville and planning has begun for the mind-brain-behavior institute, a 400,000-square-foot lab facility for interdisciplinary work on the brain. Columbia has reaffirmed its commitment to have a science high school on the model of Bronx Science or Stuyvesant, a public school run by the city with academic support from Columbia, on Manhattanville property provided by Columbia.
Last fall the Business School announced plans to move to Manhattanville and to raise the necessary funds. Such a move would complete phase one of the long-term Manhattanville development. Over the course of the year Columbia worked with the city as it reviewed the environmental impact statement for the rezoning that the Manhattanville development would require—an enormous, exhaustive document. Once certification for the EIS is finally complete—an outcome the president hoped would come soon—the University moves on to the next stage or rezoning, known as ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure). He thought the political stars were well aligned for this effort, with the mayor’s announcement in his state-of-the-city speech in January that the city fully supports Columbia, and similar statements from Congressman Charles Rangel, Governor Elliott Spitzer, Councilman Robert Jackson, and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. Since January the University has been working with the Local Development Corporation, created by the community board, to develop a community benefits agreement that will make Columbia proud of its role as a neighbor. In a short time several hundred administrators will move into new facilities in Manhattanville, with positive results for the institution as well as the community.
Over the past three years, the president said, Jean Howard has led a wonderful effort to increase diversity at Columbia. Her term as vice provost for diversity is now ending. There has been growth in the faculties across the institution, most importantly in the 10 percent growth of the Arts and Sciences faculty over the past few years—a vital development for Columbia.
The Law School will add a new floor on the top of its building, which will serve as a base for adding new faculty. Lee Goldman joined Columbia this year as the new Medical Center dean, taking on the unenviable task of figuring out just how deeply in debt the Medical Center is. Meanwhile Columbia hopes to complete searches this academic year for new deans of the Schools of Public Health, International and Public Affairs, and the Arts.
The president said the year had not been without tragic incidents. He noted the horrific rape and torture of a Columbia journalism student in her apartment.
A successful task force on undergraduate education concluded a year of meetings on May 3. The group will continue next year, and is working on significant proposals, hopeful of agreement in principle.
Despite the many favorable developments, the president said the University is feeling financial stresses, particularly in the Arts and Sciences and Medical Center budgets, which pose real challenges for the institution. He said Columbia is committed to straightforward, no-tricks accounting, and to addressing the real deficits now, not hiding them till the next generation.
On balance, the president said, the university has seen a lot of growth and new projects in the past several years. Next year is a time to consolidate, to address problems Columbia has not addressed. There have been discussions about what seem like simple matters, like improving computer services for faculty and improving the use of Columbia’s constrained office space. The idea is to deal with immediate issues that growth creates, then regroup and move on. Addressing longstanding deficits is part of this effort.
Sen. Karen Green (Lib. Staff.) asked if a preliminary review was in the works for PeopleSoft, the two-year-old software program for payroll and other financial matters for Columbia employees. She said a number of her fellow librarians have identified problems with the program, including lost summer paychecks for graduate student workers.
Sen. Green expressed concern that Human Resources is now using “pull” rather than “push” technology, making employees responsible for tracking their payroll transactions, rather than sending paper pay stubs to employees’ offices.
The president said he did not know the answer to Sen. Green’s question, but asked other administrators to reply. Provost Brinkley said he could not comment on technical problems with People Soft, but said the problem might be a matter of policy or publicity.
Sen. Sharyn O’Halloran (Ten., SIPA) said this issue is another example of the need for a separate information technology (IT) committee. She said PeopleSoft had been considered by the ad hoc Online Learning Committee, which she chaired. She said other departments have had problems like the ones identified by Sen. Green, including complications with adding new people to the system and with the changeover from paper to electronic documents.
Sen. O'Halloran said producing paper pay stubs has required an enormous amount of time and administration. A second phase of implementation, with additional capital investments, is about to begin, and will provide an opportunity to address bugs in the system. She invited senators with specific complaints to pass them on to her.
Candace Fleming, Vice President for Information Technology, said Human Resources, under new vice president Cindy Durning, is working hard on reviewing and upgrading its programs, including PeopleSoft. Some new capital funding will be available to support the next upgrade.
Sen. Samuel Silverstein (Ten., CUMC) raised the problem of federal research funding, which he had discussed at the March meeting. He said flat funding from the National Institutes of Health from 2004 to the present, coupled with the 2.9% reduction in non-competing grants in Fiscal Year 2007, reduced the purchasing power of NIH grants by 19.7% over this period
(http://www.the-aps.org/publications/tphys/2007html/August/NIH_Funding.htm). For all U.S. universities the cumulative shortfall in NIH grant purchasing power from 2004 to 2007 was about $7.7 billion ($5.13 billion in direct costs and $2.56 billion in indirect costs). To put this number in perspective, the total endowment of Ivy League universities is about $77 billion. Assuming these endowments appreciate on average 10% annually and institutions spend half (5%) for current needs, Ivy League universities’ total spendable endowment income in 2007 will be $3.85 billion. Thus, covering the cumulative shortfall in NIH grant purchasing power from 2004-2007 would consume about half of the Ivy League’s spendable endowment income in this period. To bring this even closer to home, NIH grants to the College of Physicians and Surgeons totaled $330.75 million in 2005 ($200.4 million in direct costs and $130.3 million in indirect costs). Assuming a similar total for 2007, the total shortfall in NIH grant purchasing power in 2007 was $65 million ($39.5 million in direct costs and $25.7 million in indirect costs). The P&S endowment is presently $1.3 billion. Assuming that it appreciates 10% annually and 5% is available for current use, total spendable endowment income in 2007 will be $65 million. Thus the shortfall in NIH grant purchasing power in 2007 will roughly equal P&S’s entire spendable endowment income for 2007, and the shortfall in purchasing power of the indirect costs on NIH grants will be 39.5% of spendable endowment income for 2007. No matter how one makes these calculations, Sen. Silverstein said, the negative impact on university finances is staggering.
He said he was not aware of a
serious effort on the part of the presidents and trustees of the research
universities to address this problem.
Columbia cannot long sustain such a drain on its endowment without
serious consequences. The life sciences have taken a big hit in the last four
years, and a national crisis is now approaching. He expressed
bewilderment at the relative silence of universities on this issue and appealed
to the president, as he had at the March meeting attended by Trustee chairman
Bill Campbell, to engage the trustees in this matter. He said the federal
budget process is in full swing, and a Democratic Congress is more likely to be
more sympathetic than its Republican predecessor. He doubted President
Bush would veto an increase in the NIH budget.
The president said Sen. Silverstein had a powerful point. He said he did not know enough to assess the level of impact, he acknowledged that it is serious. He said he has been trying to draw the attention of influential people to this problem at every opportunity for the past six months, and has tried to form a group to address it. The issue was also discussed at the most recent meeting of AAU presidents, and some momentum was building. He said he had seen a similar downturn in funding in the early 1990s, and was familiar with the politics of addressing such a problem. He said a larger effort than most people are aware of may be under way, but real mobilization is still a long way off. He did not think the issue should be pursued through Columbia's own trustees, but said he would be happy to work with any group within the university that wants to develop a political strategy for addressing the problem.
Sen. Silverstein said one useful step would be wider distribution of the information on the problem that Columbia has already produced. He said many universities haven't seen it.
Report from the Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing. ACSRI chairman Merritt Fox of the Law School presented the second of the committee's twice-a-year reports to the Senate. He said the committee, which advises the trustees on issues of corporate social responsibility relating to the university as an investor, consists of four faculty, four alumni and four students. In the fall the committee sets its agenda and informs itself, relying partly on an annual town hall meeting it holds in November, and then goes into action in the winter and spring. Last year, prompted in part by community sentiment, the committee developed a recommendation to divest from corporations that do substantial business in the Sudan. The trustees agreed in large part with this recommendation, which was implemented last spring. The committee conducted its first monitoring of the list of divested companies last fall, adding 10 and removing 3 others that have announced they are ceasing to do business in the Sudan.
A second topic, which was raised by Columbia student groups, concerns the behavior of Chevron Corporation in handling toxic waste dumps resulting from operations that it acquired in Ecuador. After meeting with representatives of Amnesty International and Chevron, as well a couple of Columbia faculty experts on the oil industry, the committee advised the trustees to support a shareholder proposal asking Chevron to consider what its policies ought to be in countries with weak regulatory processes. Should it meet a higher standard than the minimum required by local law? The committee is now drafting a letter to Chevron management responding to their presentation to the committee.
The committee's other main activity is to make recommendations to the trustees about how to vote on shareholder proxy proposals on such issues as animal welfare, banking, board diversity, corporate political contributions, environment and energy, equal employment, global labor standards, military weapons sales and sustainability reporting. The committee has met six times so far this spring, making recommendations on 44 proposals, with perhaps 25 more proposals to go. Prof. Fox was pleased to report that the trustees have followed 97 percent of the committee's recommendations. He called attention to the committee's interim report, which had been distributed for the present meeting and would be available soon on the committee's Web site. A final report on 2006-07 would be out in the fall.
Sen. Daniel Simon (Stu., CE) asked if the focus on proxy proposals, as opposed to divestment initiatives, represented a new approach.
Prof. Fox said the university has always had to decide how to vote on shareholder proposals, which for a long time have included issues of social responsibility. The ACSRI was established in 2000 to advise the trustees on those issues. The committee has recommended—and the trustees have agreed---that divestment is a last resort. The prevailing sense is that dialogue is superior, and that the primary function of the endowment is to make money for the university so that it can do its good work. But there have been exceptions: the decision in the 1980s to divest from South Africa, a longtime ban on tobacco stocks, and the recent Sudan initiative.
Sen. Michael Adler asked what the pursuit of social responsibility has cost the university in its rate of returns, and why Columbia hasn't conducted comparison studies on this question.
Prof. Fox guessed that the cost would be minimal, since other people buy the shares Columbia sells. He said divestment is mainly a symbolic gesture. He did not think Columbia was missing out on any great opportunities. He said EVP for Finance Al Horvath, an ex officio member of the ACSRI, speaks up if a committee recommendation might make it difficult for fund managers to do their important work.
Sen. Laxmi Baxi (Nonten., HS) asked if other universities are handling issues of socially responsible investing in similar ways. Prof. Fox said a number of major universities have similar committees. Katy Hogan, who staffs Columbia's committee, is in regular contact with her peers at other institutions. He said ISS, an investors' advisory service, prepares reports on shareholder initiatives, so there’s a shared pool of information.
The president noted that along with socially responsible investment initiatives, Columbia has also been raking in high returns, on the order of 15 percent--a result of the decision a few years ago to professionalize the management of the endowment.
Report of the Executive Committee chairman: Chairman Paul Duby (Ten., SEAS) said the Senate had also had a pretty good session, though it had fallen short of the three-fifths attendance threshold needed at some key meetings to amend the Senate by-laws. There were good plenaries on Manhattanville, with a presentation from Sen. O’Halloran; on academic freedom in the aftermath of the Minuteman incident last fall; on the planning process for the Northwest Corner building, in a report from Physical Development Committee chair Bradley Bloch (Alum.) and on a wide range issues in a lively meeting with Trustee chair Bill Campbell.
To applause, Sen. Duby thanked senators for their contributions during the past year, adding special mention of student senators about to graduate. There was applause. He added that nearly 50 senators are participating in Commencement this year--possibly enough, with a handful of senator deans who will be in the same robing room before the event, for the president to call a special meeting to pass the pending by-law amendments.
Sen. Duby said a number of committees will continue to meet over the summer, under summer powers that he would ask the Senate to approve in a few minutes.
Sen. Duby said that the Executive Committee's last meeting of the year unfortunately had to be moved from April 30 to April 16, almost three weeks before the present meeting. Most of that meeting was devoted to the issue at the end of the present agenda—the publication of a Senate-adopted policy in the Faculty Handbook.
Sen. Duby determined that three-fifths of the Senate was not present, so votes on pending by-laws amendments would have to be deferred again.
Alumni Relations: Chairman Bradley Bloch (Alum.) reported on his committee's yearlong inquiry into the use of databases for alumni programming, an effort that included meetings with a half-dozen Columbia officials. He said the results are relevant to the work of a new IT committee next year, and to the president's earlier comments about using the coming year to strengthen operations where growth has been uneven.
The committee found that there has been no systematic effort to retain information about who's registering for what events. There are also separate efforts by different units to solve similar problems. For example, because there was no satisfactory commercial calendaring system available, Columbia College and the Business School developed their own, unbeknownst to each other. The committee's report calls for more communication among silos in the university to share best practices and innovations.
Sen. Bloch said development offices spend most of their time gathering information, and not enough time figuring out what it means. The second task can yield useful results. When the Law School looked at alumni zip codes in the Bay Area, it realized there were enough people to have separate groups in San Francisco and Palo Alto. Sen. Bloch said this kind of analysis, requiring the right staffing and resources, can play an important role in the capital campaign.
Resolution on summer powers: The resolution, presented at the last meeting of every Senate session, calls for delegating the powers of the Senate to the Executive Committee during the summer, when the Senate is not in session.
Sen. Daniel Savin (Research Officers) noted that researchers have no representation on the Executive Committee. He asked that committee to consult with research officers before making any decisions over the summer that might affect researchers. Sen. Duby agreed.
The Senate adopted the resolution on summer powers by voice vote with dissent.
Resolution to Establish the Institute on Comparative Literature: Sen. Letty Moss-Salentijn (Ten., CDM) asked to amend the resolution by consolidating the two resolved clauses into one clause mentioning the president's power to approve the establishment of institutes.
Without discussion the Senate approved the amended resolution by voice vote without dissent.
More committee reports:
External Relations/Task Force on Campus Planning: Sen. O'Halloran, who chairs both committees, said she had been asked to speak. She said both committees had been following different aspects of the Manhattanville development. Following the president’s suggestion, she had made a presentation on Manhattanville in October, with additional comments from Senior Executive Vice President Robert Kasdin and EVP for Community Affairs Maxine Griffith.
Sen. O'Halloran said that update was still basically up to date. Columbia still awaits certification of its draft Environmental Impact Statement from the City, but has made progress. The university has just received the final draft scope for the EIS, including comments on what the final chapters must include, as well as on the 400 or so comments that were recorded at the November 2005 scoping hearing and afterwards. She said the final draft scope is available on the NYC Planning Department's Web site, or she could provide a copy.
Current hopes are that the EIS will be released before Memorial Day, or perhaps Labor Day. That step will trigger the City's seven-month Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP).
At the same time, Columbia has begun talks with the Local Development Corporation, a group that the City has assigned to negotiate a community benefits agreement with Columbia in connection with the Manhattanville development. This deliberation is not part of ULURP, but it has been made clear that a CBA is essential to progress on Manhattanville. Sen. O'Halloran said there is some convergence of opinion on the notion of an educational community benefits agreement, a direction she thought would serve everyone's best interests.
Sen. O'Halloran noted that there are now two rezoning plans in play in addition to Columbia's: Community Board 9’s 197A plan, which is really just a framework for development, and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer's 197C plan, which covers territory outside Columbia's development zone and is actually quite complementary to Columbia's plan.
Sen. O'Halloran said External Relations has done additional work on the idea of a Designated Suppliers Program (DSP), a proposal to assure adequate labor conditions in the manufacture of apparel licensed by Columbia. At the May 5, 2006 plenary--almost exactly a year earlier--the president announced the university's decision to join a working group to determine the feasibility of a DSP. Since then Columbia has participated actively in this effort, considering ways to modify a DSP in discussions with licensees, suppliers, and monitoring agencies. There has been limited progress on production quotas and pricing, and the modification of a previous insistence on labor unions to a broader right of free association for the labor force. Sen. O'Halloran added that she had moderated a SIPA forum on April 10 on global labor standards, with the presidents of the Fair Labor Association and the Workers Rights Consortium, as well as Sen. Jagdish Bhagwati (Ten., A&S/SS) and Columbia law professor Mark Barenberg.
Resolution to Publish a Senate-approved Policy in the Faculty Handbook (Executive Committee): Executive Committee chairman Paul Duby said Faculty Affairs had decided the day before to join the Executive Committee as a co-sponsor of the resolution. He explained that the Faculty Handbook is revised every dozen years or so, and for the revision now under way the two Senate committees have insisted that a set of guidelines for the administrative conduct of deans and chairs that was unanimously adopted by the Senate in 2003 should be recognized as university policy by including it as an appendix in the Faculty Handbook, like a number of other Senate-approved policies.
Sen. Duby said that at a Faculty Affairs Committee meeting in April, Senior Vice Provost Stephen Rittenberg, who is responsible for the Faculty Handbook, refused to add the guidelines for deans and chairs to the Handbook's appendices. After the Executive Committee approved a letter to Provost Brinkley repeating its request for publication of the guidelines, Sen. Duby met with the provost, who affirmed Dr. Rittenberg's position. Sen. Duby said he would not try to characterize the provost's views, and would ask him to express them in a moment. But Sen. Duby mentioned his own opinion, as Executive Committee chair, that Senate acts, if they are not rejected by the trustees in a certain period of time, become university policy. And since the Faculty Handbook is understood to be the way to inform faculty and other members of the community of university policies, such policies should be published there.
Provost Brinkley said he has great respect for the Senate and for its role in the University, and he took no pleasure in disagreeing with Sen. Duby on an issue of this kind. But he did strongly disagree with Sen. Duby's assertion that the Senate has the authority to insist that anything be published in the Faculty Handbook. The Faculty Handbook is a product of the provost's office, which is responsible for its contents. There is no provision in any by-laws or statutes of the University that the Senate can require the publication of anything in the Faculty Handbook. He said the Senate can no more insist on publishing something there than in Columbia magazine or the Columbia Spectator.
A senator asked why the provost did not want this policy statement in the Handbook.
Sen. Brinkley preferred not to discuss the statement itself. He said there were many reasons why he did not want the statement in the Handbook, but the critical issue is whether the Senate has the authority to require its publication.
Sen. Savin understood that an act of the Senate that is not turned back by the Trustees becomes university policy. Sen. Brinkley said the Senate cannot make policy beyond the boundaries of its granted authority.
Sen. Savin asked how the 2003 guidelines differed from the university policy on research misconduct that was adopted in early 2006. Both statements came through the Senate, were adopted by the Senate, and were not rejected by the Trustees. What is the difference?
Sen. Brinkley said the Faculty Handbook does not include every item of university policy. He said he was neither conceding or contesting the Senate's authority to enact a policy governing the behavior of deans and department chairs; he was simply asserting the authority of his office to determine what goes into the Handbook. He said the Senate has every right to propose a policy and to pass it and to put it on its website and to assert that it’s university policy, but the provost is not required to publish it in the Faculty Handbook.
Sen. Savin said the provost's use of the words "assert that it’s university policy" seemed to suggest that it’s actually not university policy.
Sen. Brinkley repeated that he was not taking a position on whether the Senate has the right to create a policy on this issue, but simply saying that he is not required to publish it in the Faculty Handbook, and that he chooses not to.
Sen. Robert Pollack (Ten., A&S/NS) said the provost had restated the problem, but had not made it go away for the Senate. He said chapter 2 of the University Statutes says on the Senate’s policymaking role, in Section 23, letter I, that the Senate shall "promulgate a code of conduct for faculty, students, and staff and provide for its enforcement." Sen. Pollack said Faculty Affairs, which he chairs, understood that this provision gave it the capacity to endorse the previous Senate resolution on the conduct of deans and chairs, who administer faculty. He said that if indeed the Faculty Handbook is not where such policies get published, then he would like to ask the president and the Senate what that means for university policies: How may the senate establish a policy if it's not to appear in the provost’s Faculty Handbook? If the provost owns the Handbook, who owns the policy?
Sen. Brinkley asked Howard Jacobson, the parliamentarian, to comment. Mr. Jacobson said he had discussed this issue with Sens. Duby and Brinkley. He had said it was possible to have a long "constitutional” debate about what the Senate passed in 2003, but aside from that, he had made two comments. One is that many senators may know nothing about the history and context of the deans' guidelines, partly because little has been said about this issue between then and now. The second is that whether or not the guidelines for deans and chairs are a university policy (and he doubted it), he did not think the Senate could insist on the publication of a resolution in any particular place, be it the Faculty Handbook or a school bulletin.
Sen. Pollack said Mr. Jacobson was banging on an open door. Sen. Pollack said his question was not about whether or not the policy will be published in the Handbook, but about the role the Senate plays in establishing university policy according to the Statutes. If the guidelines for deans and chairs don't appear in the Handbook, how will the Senate know it has made a policy?
Mr. Jacobson said the policy could go on the Senate Web site. He said many policies affecting faculty are not in the Faculty Handbook. If in the future an issue arises about the behavior of a dean or department chair, then the Senate Faculty Affairs Committee and perhaps the Senate will look to that resolution. The guidelines are not going to be a secret, but they don’t have to wind up in the Faculty Handbook, he said. Mr. Jacobson said he himself had unsuccessfully urged Dr. Rittenberg to include certain statements as appendices in the Handbook.
Mr. Jacobson hoped this summary of his remarks to Sens. Duby and Brinkley was all he needed to say on this subject. Sen. Brinkley apologized to Mr. Jacobson for putting him on the spot.
Sen. Adler asked for delineation of the boundaries of authority. He said a strong provost will resist any attempt to encroach on the powers of his office. How did Provost Brinkley feel duty-bound to respond in a case where a dean breaches the code of conduct adopted by the Senate?
Sen. Brinkley identified two paths for monitoring and, if necessary, sanctioning the behavior of deans. One is through his office, since all Morningside deans report to him; the other is through the Senate Faculty Affairs Committee. These processes converge at certain points, sometimes in agreement, sometimes not. He said Faculty Affairs and the Senate are free to create their own policy about the behavior of deans and department chairs. But he added, at the risk of sounding like Andrew Jackson, that it would then be the Senate's responsibility to publicize and enforce such a policy, not his.
Sen. O'Halloran recalled the context of the remark attributed to Andrew Jackson: a decision of the John Marshall Supreme Court that called into question the government’s authority to carry out the forced removal of the Cherokee Indians in the 1830s. There was laughter. She identified a leadership opportunity in the present situation. She noted the territorial issue of who controls the content of the Handbook, and said the Senate might want to respect that provostial prerogative. But she expressed concern about future governance problems, for example in a case where people might demand to know why a university policy was not included in the Faculty Handbook. If there's one set of policies on the Senate Web site and another somewhere else, where do people look for guidance about how to resolve the conflict? The leadership opportunity she had in mind was a chance to engage in a dialogue including the provost, deans, chairs, and the Faculty Affairs Committee about how to proceed on this issue.
The provost said he was not prepared to answer the question of whether the Senate has the authority to create guidelines for the performance of deans and department chairs. He repeated that his office is not required to publish the policy in the Handbook. But he also felt obliged to respond to senators' prompts to comment on the policy itself. He said that policies on student and faculty conduct on which the university spent enormous time in recent years reflected a broad consensus. So should a policy on the conduct of administrators, and a decision to publish Senate guidelines for deans and chairs would express an endorsement of the policy by the central administration. But when the document was reviewed four years ago, deans and chairs resoundingly opposed it. He repeated that he did not dispute the Senate's authority to adopt the guidelines, but he will not publish it in the Faculty Handbook.
Sen. O'Halloran noted that from a logistical, practical point of view, the provost's position could lead to significant governance conflicts. The provost said he understood the problems in the situation, but thought the Senate was choosing to create the present problem. He said he would have to deal with problems as they arise.
The president said there is always a tension in university governance between a university senate and the lines of responsibility that go from president to the provost, the deans, and faculty. His candid view was that the Senate guidelines for deans and chairs had bumped up against the limits of what he considered the appropriate role of the Senate. His personal view was that the Senate policy was allowed to happen because its framing was sufficiently vague and consistent with the general ideas about how people should act as deans and administrators that it would not be made into a "constitutional" issue of institutional governance.
A clear example of a case where he would resist, along with the provost and perhaps many senators, would be if the Senate were to say that it would henceforth review the performance of deans and make judgments about whether they continue or not, or to say that it would approve whatever salary increases the president gives. The president said he would resist that strongly, and state his case to the trustees if necessary.
The president said that Section 23 of the University Statutes, in the chapter on the Senate, provides a mandate broader than he thought the custom of university governance allows. If he wanted to respond legalistically, he would point out that subsection I does not mention deans and department chairmen. He said again that the policy under discussion comes at least to the borderline of customary understandings of university governance. And from the vantage of other parts of the university, which see the Senate's role in university governance as more limited, the issue of the Handbook pushes the policy over the borderline.
The president's personal recommendation was not to push this issue because it's just not important enough. A statement has been made by the Senate, which may have a view about its status as university policy. If a dean were ever to violate the guidelines (which he doubted would ever happen), there would be a concrete case in which to apply them. But he said the debate about publishing the policy in the Handbook will bring the issue of governance to a head in a way that should be avoided.
Sen. Pollack, a co-chair of Faculty Affairs, asked where the committee should turn for guidance if not to this set of university-sanctioned set of boundary conditions. Where is the substrate of agreed-upon consensus policy? The large question, not answered by the provost's refusal to publish these guidelines, What are the rules and how shall the Senate receive a grievance?
Provost Brinkley said that, as he has noted in past conversations with Sen. Pollack, he has no more authority to tell the Senate its role than the Senate has to tell him his role. He thought the Senate should use its best judgment to determine whether to make a charge against a dean or a department chair or a faculty member or an administrator, and then he and the Senate will work it out, sometimes amicably, sometimes not.
Sen. Pollack said this was not a personal issue. The provost agreed.
Sen. Pollack asked to hear the president on this question. The president repeated his earlier point that there are multiple centers of governance in an institution, and there will always be tensions among them. In a case in which the multiple centers were not operating well together, he would go to the trustees and propose a solution, and the trustees would approve it, or he wouldn't be president any more. He proposed working through the tensions among centers of governance on a case-by-case basis, without destroying an arrangement that generally works well. In answer to Sen. Pollack's question, he said that if Faculty Affairs believes its guidelines embody university policy and it encounters a concrete case of what it considers a significant violation, then the issue should be discussed. The case of publication of the deans' guidelines is a concrete case, but he didn't consider it important enough to pursue, and his recommendation was for the Senate to back off for a while on it. He thought the current issue is not so much a dispute about the content of the guidelines—which he considered generally consistent with the themes of the institution—as a contest of wills.
The president said that in the case of whether to bring the ROTC back to campus, it was he who assigned this vital decision-making role to the Senate. To laughter, he added that he wanted the Senate to be tagged with responsibility for this decision. His point was that it would be unfair to accuse him of trying to minimize the role of the Senate. He did not think the present contest of wills should be taken as a real reflection of the Senate’s role.
Sen. David Ressel (Stu., Journ.) said the current dispute raised the question of what other policies deans are not following. He considered the Faculty Handbook an explicit contract of conduct, and said any policy governing the conduct of deans should be presented there.
Sen. Brinkley said there are policies in the Faculty Handbook about the authority and behavior of deans, some of them hammered out many years ago. Mr. Jacobson noted that some of those policies were created by the Senate.
Sen. Brinkley said that when the Handbook is revised—and the present revision was his first and probably last round—there is consultation with many groups, including Senate committees, other parts of the administration, and the trustees. Great care is taken to ensure that the policies included in the Faculty Handbook are consensually supported by the relevant university groups. The Senate guidelines for deans and chairs were not consensually supported in this way, and that’s why he chose not to print them in the Handbook.
Sen. Ressel asked who decides which policies to honor and which to ignore. Sen. Brinkley said some policies have been in the Faculty Handbook for many years, and others are in the Statutes. These long preceded his time as provost, and probably even at Columbia, and he couldn't say how they were created.
Mr. Jacobson said the Statutes include the Rules of University Conduct governing rallies and demonstrations, which were created through the Senate. These rules apply to everyone in the room—students, faculty, and administrators. There are guidelines for research conduct, which also came through the Senate. There are different kinds of rules against discrimination which also apply to everyone, and the Senate has established and amended some of these. These precedents are useful guideposts for new issues that come up, he said.
Sen. Nancy Worman (Fac., Barn.) said it can't be the case that deans and administrators don't want any oversight of their conduct. So the problem must be that the Senate policy is unsatisfactory.
Sen. Brinkley said the consensus among deans and chairs when the policy was presented to them four years ago was that it was not a good policy.
In that case, Sen. Worman said, the Senate should have revised the policy to achieve consensus.
Sen. Brinkley said that if the Senate wants to create a policy governing the behavior of deans and department chairs—and, again, he was taking no position on whether the senate has that authority—he thought the Senate should insure that the policy has some consensual support among the people affected by the policy. And when everybody who would be affected by the policy expressed strong opposition to it, that seemed a clear signal. But he repeated that it is not his role to tell the Senate whether to reconsider this policy; it's his role to decide whether it should be in the Faculty Handbook, and he did not think it should be.
The president said he would take the role of saying the policy should be reconsidered. He said he supported Provost Brinkley's position completely and wanted to elaborate on it. He recalled unresolved disagreements about this policy when it came to the Senate in 2003. These were unfortunate, he said, but required an understanding that life goes on. Now the dispute had come back. He did not think the issue was important enough to bring the Senate to a collision point. Collision points occur in university governance, but it's preferable to avoid them if possible. His recommendation was to step back, and consider whether to come at this policy again.
Sen. Savin noted that many people covered by the Faculty Handbook are not faculty. To laughter, the president interrupted to guess that Sen. Savin wanted to mention research officers in the title of the Handbook. Sen. Savin suggested the name Officers Handbook.
Sen. Brinkley said he did not mean to cut off the conversation, although he was sure many people wanted the conversation over, including himself. He repeated that he has enormous respect for the Senate, for Sens. Duby and Pollack and every senator he works with, and he took no pleasure in publicly venting a disagreement of this kind, but such disagreements do occur. He preferred to think that such disagreements can be dealt with collegially and as friends. He regretted that the issue had been pushed to this public forum.
Sen. Duby agreed with the president and the provost that there could have been more efforts to straighten out the disagreement. But the policy was adopted four years ago. There were disagreements then, and his own recollection was that deans and chairs had objected in principle to any policy. His view, based on his Senate experience, was that a policy is needed. Somewhere there should be information about what chairs and deans should know and do.
Sen. Duby's other point was that it is the responsibility of the administration to publicize university policies. And something called the Faculty Handbook should contain those policies.
Sen. Silverstein said he had not thought about this issue before, but said he would have found it helpful to have some formal process of preparation when he took over the chairmanship of his department years ago. Instead he had to acquire the knowledge over a number of years. He did not think the Senate guidelines provide much of this essential information. He said he would make a motion to withdraw the present resolution, and reconsider what is appropriate going forward. To laughter, he said that no sensible academic unit would hire a department chair as uninstructed as he was when he started, and he was responsible for millions of dollars. He thought that from an administrative standpoint, better preparation of incoming chairs is a real issue, just as much now as in the past. But it shouldn't be shoved down anyone's craw.
The president asked for clarification of Sen. Silverstein's motion. Mr. Jacobson said only the proponent could withdraw the resolution; he asked if Sen. Silverstein was moving to table the resolution till a later date. Sen. Silverstein said he was.
The Senate then voted to table the resolution by a show of hands, with 20 in favor, 9 opposed, and 10 abstentions.
Sen. Worman said she had opposed the motion because she wanted to record her objection to using the loophole of a tabling motion to obscure the fact that administrators and chairs don't want any policy governing their conduct.
The president disagreed with Sen. Worman's interpretation of the vote. Sen. Worman said it was based on Sen. Duby's remarks. Sen. Duby said he had made the remark Sen. Worman had attributed to him.
Sen. O'Halloran said the vote provided an opportunity to start a dialogue with deans and chairs.
Sen. James Applegate (Ten., A&S/NS) said he had been in the Senate in 2003 when the guidelines had been adopted. His recollection was that the policy had been very popular, and had passed unanimously. Speaking as a former lab director and department chair, he said he did not think the actual content of the guidelines was objectionable or insulting. He did not understand why this issue had reached the present point. He said he had voted to table the present resolution, though he had voted on the Executive Committee to press the point with the provost. He said this is not the way to run a university. He said he could not believe that deans and chairs oppose any policy regulating their behavior. He doubted that any of them would look at the guidelines and disagree about what kinds of behavior should be sanctioned. Somehow, he said, the discussion that should have happened didn't happen; the best step was to table the resolution as the Senate had just done, and then go back and have a conversation.
The president said he did not want to prolong the debate, but said there are many reasons why a dean might disagree with the Senate guidelines without opposing all regulation of his or her conduct. A dean might be uncomfortable with the connotations of certain wording or a certain subtext, or might think the Senate should not be responsible for such a policy.
Sen. Pollack stressed that the provost had never been difficult or unpleasant in the course of the present debate, and he hoped he hadn't been either. He thought the tabling of the resolution put the Senate in a wider field of discourse, and the first serious grievance next year will become a test case for what the Senate and the provost consider a boundary condition. He asked to be on record that he voted against the tabling because he preferred having the boundaries. He hoped the Senate would take seriously the report from Faculty Affairs on the next test case.
Sen. Silverstein thought the responsibilities of deans were sufficiently different from those of chairs to require separate guidelines. He expressed uncertainty about how to proceed. He said good people are disagreeing about something they should all be in agreement about.
The president said there is no crisis on this issue, and it makes sense to come back and address the different understandings of roles and authority involved.
Sen. Javier Groshaus (Research Officers) commented, but his remarks were inaudible.
Sen. Paul Thompson (Alum.) admitted to some discouragement on the issue, worrying that the present impasse could become a crisis fairly easily.
The president said the academic year was at an end, and people would be going away. He did not anticipate a crisis in the two weeks before Commencement. He recommended picking up the issue again in September.
Resolution to Limit Rent Increases in Columbia Apartments in 2007-08 (Housing Policy): The president said there was one more difficult issue on the agenda, the resolution to limit rent increases. He added, in jest, that there was a further resolution to give all faculty members a 20 percent salary raise. There was laughter.
Mr. Jacobson observed that, according to the Senate by-laws, the Executive Committee is the agenda committee, and that the present resolution is on the agenda. Normally, he said, an agenda item doesn't reach the floor until it's been properly "cooked"—that is, until the Executive Committee deliberates on it, making sure that the right people and constituencies have had a chance to weigh in. Mr. Jacobson said he wasn't saying the resolution couldn't be discussed now, but he suggested that the present meeting was not the best time to deal with it.
Sen. Duby reminded the Senate that the Executive Committee had had to reschedule its last meeting for a time three weeks before the present meeting, and that a number of committees were still completing their work at the time. Sen. Duby said he was responsible for putting the present resolution on the agenda, and he had made that decision with the understanding that it could always be removed. He did circulate the resolution to the Executive Committee in the past few days, and there were no objections, but he did not consider that a vote.
Mr. Jacobson asked, in jest, whether Executive Committee members are all in IRE housing.
The president asked if it was Mr. Jacobson's view that the resolution was inappropriate for the present meeting. Mr. Jacobson said it is very, very unusual for a resolution to go from a committee to the floor for immediate action, without formal Executive Committee approval.
The president asked if the procedure was unusual or improper. Mr. Jacobson could not think of a prior instance of such a procedure. He said the situation was like offering a resolution from the floor; the normal procedure is to refer such a resolution to the appropriate committee.
Sen. Duby agreed that that was the typical procedure for resolutions presented from the floor.
The secretary reviewed some scheduling problems accounting for the present situation. He said the Housing Policy Committee is charged to review rent increases, and did not have a chance to meet and take a position on next year's guideline increase until April 24. At the same time the Executive Committee's last meeting of the year had to be rescheduled to April 16, nearly three weeks before the present meeting. Because of these conditions, it was impossible for Housing Policy to submit its resolution for regular Executive Committee consideration. Instead, it developed its resolution as soon as it could after its April 24 meeting.
The president called for the committee to present its report. Sen. Christopher Small (Research Officers), co-chairman of Housing Policy, asked if the resolution was going forward.
Sen. Duby and the president called for presenting the report first. Sen. Duby said there could be a resolution from the floor.
Sen. Small summarized the issues addressed in the committee's report and resolution. He said the secretary had explained why the committee was presenting its resolution now and not sooner. He added that the committee could not put the resolution off till the fall because rents are going up before then. So there is a narrow window of opportunity for the committee to raise this issue. He added that the committee would have preferred to handle the issue in another way, but saw no alternative. The committee's charge allows it to bring the issue of rent increases to the Senate either in its annual report or in a resolution. He added that the basic issue in the present resolution was raised in the last few annual reports, apparently to no effect.
Turning to the resolution, he explained that its purpose is most certainly not to tie rents and salaries permanently together. The intention was also not to criticize Columbia Facilities; on the contrary, the report commends Facilities for the outstanding job it has done in reducing costs internally. The intention was to provide an incentive to the administration to make or reveal a policy addressing the underlying issue, which is the gap between salary increases and rent increases. Last year the guideline rent increase, which had previously been in the range of 3.75-3.9 percent (varying slightly for different categories of affiliated tenants), abruptly rose to 5 percent. Last year the committee called attention to this disparity, but nothing was done; now, at the end of the academic year, the committee finds itself in the same situation.
He said the question of the relationship between rents and salaries could be debated at great length, but the committee thought that the only way to bring it to the attention of the community was to bring a resolution now. He asked whether the Senate could vote on the resolution.
The president said that, perhaps not surprisingly, he opposed the resolution because he knew that Facilities had worked extremely hard on all the services in provides—not just housing—and the administration has striven to be as efficient as possible, working within its budgets to provide the most generous possible salary increases. He also identified some complications for any policy linking salaries to rents. For one thing, the salary increase guideline—whether it’s 3, 4, or 5 percent—is actually a pool of money, and some raises will be larger than the guideline rent increase, some smaller. There's also variation in salaries around the institution, with market conditions determining that some schools pay higher salaries than others.
The president said his joke at the start of this discussion was partly intended to convey his real reservations about the resolution. He said the Senate should no more be getting into the business of insisting that certain costs be restricted than it should be setting salary increases. This is particularly true of costs that include subsidies, or another form of compensation. He said Columbia rents are a fraction of market rents, perhaps on the order of 50 or 60 percent.
Sen. Small said again that that was not the intent of the proposal. Instead, the intent was to provide an incentive for resolving an issue that recurs every year.
The president asked for clarification of the resolution. Did the resolution call for limits on rent increases? Sen. Small said it did, but with an escape clause.
The president asked for how long the resolution would limit rent increases. Sen. Small said the limit would last until the administration either reveals or makes a policy addressing the underlying problem of the link between salaries and rents.
The president said the administration wrestles with this problem. But it can't limit prices while it considers them. He asked the committee to keep considering them, without mandating limits.
Sen. Small asked the president the question he asked the person at the airline gate who determined whether he would get on the plane or not: What would you do if you were me?
The president said he would ask, Are people dealing with me in good faith? Do I think they are working hard to help us understand and listening to us? The president said he understood Sen. Small's answer to that question to be yes. Sen. Small said that was beyond question. But the underlying problem remained. The president said he understood.
Sen. Worman said the effect on morale of rent increases larger than salary increases was clear. In her own case, it seems that the right hand giveth and the left hand taketh away. She asked if this pattern would continue into the future
The president said he understood. He had been a young faculty member. At the same time, he said, Columbia is running a large housing system which is unquestionably subsidizing its faculty tenants. Costs go up. There are also complex issues of equity between faculty who are in university housing and others who are not.
The president said the standard should be: Are you dealing with people who are trying their best? He did not think it made sense to single out one part of the university's complex operations, and call for limits there in a resolution.
Sen. Bloch said the goal of the resolution seemed to be less to limit rent increases than to acquire information, perhaps in the form of greater transparency in the policy of setting rent increases. Speaking as the chair of Physical Development, he said he had requested information of various kinds from VP for Facilities Joe Ienuso (who also works with the Housing Policy Committee), and his committee was now awash in important information.
Sen. Savin wanted to make sure all senators understood that the resolution was reaching the Senate late because Housing Policy had only just received the information it needed about next year's rent increases. He also asked, as a point of order, whether the Senate still had a quorum.
The secretary said there was no quorum. Mr. Jacobson said Sen. Savin’s question amounted to a quorum call.
The president offered his commitment to work with Housing Policy on housing costs. He said he also worried also about tuition. Should the Senate limit tuition increases? He said he wanted to respond in a spirit of acknowledging the problem of rent increases, which he said the administration wants to keep as low as possible.
Sen. Groshaus made a comment that was inaudible on the tape.
The president adjourned the meeting shortly after 3 pm.
Tom Mathewson, Senate staff