University Senate                                                                                  Proposed: February 1, 2008

 

                                                                                                            Adopted as amended: February 1, 2008

 

 

MEETING OF DECEMBER 13, 2007

 

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

 

Minutes and agenda: The minutes of November 15 and the agenda were adopted as distributed.

 

President’s report:  The day before, at a meeting of three City Council committees, the university and community groups presented their arguments on Columbia’s application to rezone a portion of Manhattanville, including the 17-acre portion the university wants to develop as a new campus. The president thought the meeting went well for the university, and he expressed optimism about the outcome of Columbia’s application. 

 

He recalled that the rezoning proposal had met with a negative vote of 32-1, with one abstention, in the first step of its application process, at Community Board 9. But this was not a categorical rejection; an accompanying statement indicated that if Columbia could meet a list of 10 conditions, the vote would be reconsidered.  These conditions have become part of the ongoing discussions with the community organization known as the Local Development Corporation to work out a community benefits agreement. Those negotiations are proceeding, the president said, and he was optimistic that they will lead to a very fine agreement on the university’s obligation over time to work to benefit employment, health, education, the arts, and the environment in the surrounding communities.

 

From CB9, the application went to the City Planning Commission, which approved Columbia’s plan by a vote of 10-1.  The City Council now has until mid-January to vote, though it could send the application back to the Planning Commission for additional review.  The absolute deadline for a vote is around the end of January.  If the Council doesn’t vote, the Planning Commission vote stands, and the project is approved.  If the Council votes against it, the process is over. He assured senators that Columbia will not be going through a rezoning application again anytime soon.

 

If the vote is favorable, Columbia will proceed with the project. The president said Columbia has made a commitment never to use eminent domain against residential properties.  But he has reserved the right to pursue Columbia’s application to the state to seek eminent domain against commercial property owners.  The president said he hoped and expected never to have to use eminent domain.  But Columbia might decide not to allow the project to be derailed by one or two commercial property owners standing in the way. 

 

Meanwhile, the president said, planning for the buildings and academic programming are continuing, along with the fundraising. He expressed excitement about what Manhattanville will mean for the university over time. 

Sen. Eric Wang (Stu., CC) asked if the City Council, like the Planning Commission, will require further revisions to Columbia’s plan.  The president said there have been no discussions with the

City Council about specific changes.

 

Sen. Wang asked if Planning Commission changes to the plan—particularly the idea that proposed sites for labs on Broadway and residential buildings on 12th Avenue would be switched—would have long-term consequences for the development.  The president emphasized that Columbia’s Manhattanville site provides a huge amount of space—more than 6 million square feet.  In the next 5-10 years, Columbia will develop perhaps one million of those square feet; the rest will remain for decades to unfold into a campus, just as it took several decades after the move to Morningside to develop that campus.

 

The president said the administration knew from the start that the plan would undergo changes, some because very good ideas would be offered, and others because that’s the nature of political negotiations.  The City Planning Commission wanted some residential buildings going up Broadway, not just laboratory and academic buildings.  Columbia accommodated that preference by agreeing to put some residential buildings in the northeastern corner of that segment on the west side of Broadway.  This change meant the academic space would be moved elsewhere in the development zone.  But the total amount of available space is still 6 million square feet.

 

Sen. Michael Adler (Ten., Bus.) asked if the university gave up its right to seek eminent domain over residential real estate forever or for a period.  He understood that building on the site of current residential real estate would not be taking place for some years.  But at that point Columbia may want eminent domain for that land.

 

The president said one reason for proposing Manhattanville for a new campus was the sparsity of residential development, with some 132 units, a total of about 300 people.  Columbia has promised tenants there that they will have housing as good or better than what they have now.  The plan also does not call for that portion of the campus to be developed for another 10-15 years, at the earliest.  In that period of time, the president said, an arrangement can be worked out with all tenants.  The city is intent on making sure that they are treated with respect and that their lives will be better after the development.  He reaffirmed that Columbia will not use eminent domain against residential properties.  He stressed that he was not making this commitment about residential properties anyplace else. 

 

Executive Committee chair’s report:  Co-chair Paul Duby (Ten., SEAS) urged senators to stay after the meeting for more refreshments.

 

With the president unable to attend the December 5 Executive Committee meeting, members addressed questions to the provost. Topics included the settlement of the student hunger strike in November and the task forces on undergraduate education and on globalization. 

 

Sen. Duby and student caucus co-chair Andrea Hauge (Bus.) had attended the plenary meeting of the Trustees on December 8.  UDAR VP Susan Feagin reported to the Trustees that the capital campaign is ahead of schedule.  The Medical Center has been particularly successful; more difficult, as usual, has been fundraising for new buildings.

The rest of the plenary was in executive session, Sen. Duby said. He invited Senate reps to report on Trustee committee meetings (Finance, Public Affairs, Physical Assets, Educational Policy).

 

Sen. Sharyn O’Halloran (Ten., SIPA), respresenting Budget Review, said the Trustees Finance Committee had discussed the quarterly budget update, as well as initial parameters for next year’s budget.  There was also an update on the performance of the endowment from Narv Narvekar, president of the Columbia Investment Management Corp.  Mr. Narvekar had also attended a meeting of the Senate Budget Review Committee a couple of hours before the present meeting.  Sen. O’Halloran commended the president and Senior Executive Vice President Robert Kasdin for providing a transparent and accurate account of the performance of the endowment, a university operation that is clearly well managed.

 

Sen. O’Halloran said Sen. John Johnson (Stu., Law) went as proxy to the meeting of the Trustees Public Affairs Committee, which addressed the role of the Columbia Web site in addressing both internal and external audiences. 

 

Sen. Johnson said there was also some discussion of initiatives on climate change resulting from the generosity of Trustee Jerry Lenfest.

 

Sen. O’Halloran said she had represented the Senate at public hearings on Manhattanville.  There was pushback from community activists, but she said productive recommendations will result from conversation between the Council and the Planning Commission about the best plan for both the community and Columbia. 

 

The president mentioned two people who played key roles in the rezoning effort: former mayor and SIPA faculty member David Dinkins and Congressman Charles Rangel.  Rep. Rangel had authorized the president the day before to convey his support for the Columbia project, providing a critical boost to Columbia’s effort to rezone Manhattanville and to become a major partner in Harlem.  Mr. Dinkins, recovering from recent health problems, made a special effort to join Columbia officials at the public meeting and endorse the project.  The president said these are people of immense stature and reputation, who have put themselves on the line for the university.

           

At Sen. Duby’s request, Budget Review co-chair Richard Bulliet (Ten., A&S/SS) spoke briefly about Mr. Narvekar’s visit that morning. He mentioned the news that Columbia’s endowment return has been 19.7 percent in recent years, in the 88th percentile among peer institutions.  He said Mr. Narvekar fielded lively and expert questions from many committee members.

 

Someone asked if Columbia’s portfolio has been damaged by the recent mortgage collapse.

Sen. Soulaymane Kachani (NT, SEAS), a member of Budget Review, said Columbia’s exposure to fixed-income investments was below 5 percent, so the endowment largely escaped the subprime mortgage meltdown.  Unfortunately, he added, Columbia was also not short in subprime mortage investments, so it didn’t make money out of the meltdown. 

 

On the other hand, Sen. Kachani said, Columbia’s endowment was somewhat affected by the meltdown in quantitative hedge funds, because it was invested in absolute-return hedge funds.  Some of these investmentes were liquidated, and others whose value is expected to rebound have remained in the portfolio. Overall, he said, the hit has been fairly minimal. 

 

Sen. Michael Adler (Ten. Bus.), another Budget Review member, said the Columbia Investment Management Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of the trustees, and there’s no separate breakout in the trustees’ financial reports of this subsidiary’s performance.  He said the committee didn’t get that information at the meeting earlier that day.  He noted that Mr. Narvekar’s entire presentation had included almost no hard numbers. Sen. Adler said the committee would like to learn more details of the performance of the endowment and its corporate governance.  Robert Kasdin, who had been expected to attend the meeting, was not there, so the committee did not take up these requests with the administration.

 

The president said he was not an expert in investment issues, but said the basic reason why the current organization of investment operations was set up was to create a kind of firewall between it and the rest of the institution, including the administration and the full board of trustees.

 

To assure that the money remains within the university, he said, it’s necessary to have a certain number of trustees and non-trustees in authority, on the managing board, and certain people who have ex-officio positions, like the president.  But the whole idea is to get the investment management into a professional form. Otherwise, what happens is that every trustee, every administrator, every member of the Law School, Business School, and economics faculties seeks involvement in the management of the portfolio. The same people may also want to get tips for their own investing.

 

The president said he had seen the pitfalls of this approach at various universities. This is why the professionalization of the investment operation at the end of George Rupp’s presidency and the start of his own was so important.  The president concluded that not even the trustees, generally speaking, have detailed breakdowns of this information, though he wanted to double-check this point.

 

In response to a question from Sen. Samuel Silverstein (Ten., CUMC), Sen. O’Halloran said the IMC does actively manage some endowment funds, but mainly hires and manages others who actively invest the money in different ways. 

 

Sen. O’Halloran said that Columbia’s position in the 88th percentile in investment returns means it is trailing its key rivals.  Yale has performed fabulously, beating Princeton, Harvard, and the others.  Columbia has to be more conservative in part because its endowment is smaller and its budget is under more pressure.  So Columbia can’t really hedge as much or be as aggressive.

 

In response to a comment from Sen. Paul Thompson (Alum.), the president said presidents sometimes take credit for institutional endowment performance. There’s no good reason for him to do that because he has little to do with the endowment other than fundraising and making sure the wrong people don’t get involved in managing the endowment. But at the start of his presidency in 2002, the endowment was around $3 billion, and now it’s above $7 billion. Before that, he said, Columbia was losing more ground to its its peers.

 

Sen. Silverstein asked the president to comment on recent news that Harvard will provide full financial aid—free of loans—to families with annual incomes of up to $180,000.

 

The president said he hadn’t seen the details of the Harvard plan.  He said Columbia struggles to maintain its position among the five or six universities providing real need-blind admissions. He also had announced two years ago that Columbia would excuse families with incomes below $50,000 from having to take out loans.  At the time, that decision put Columbia financial aid packages into or just below the very top category.

 

This latest Harvard move presents a real challenge for Columbia, the president said, which will have to be met through fundraising. Columbia’s resources are so stretched that moving into this next category is something the university has to plan for.  He said it is a key principle to make it possible for people to come to Columbia regardless of their wealth, but the university does not now have the resources to move fully in that direction. 

 

The president said the recent gifts from John Kluge--$200 million for financial aid for the College, $200 million for other parts of the university, and other gifts the president hoped Mr. Kluge would make still--will help a great deal in the future.  There is also an ambitious capital campaign goal for financial aid.  But at the moment, he said, Columbia is stretched to the limit. 

 

In response to a comment from Sen. Silverstein, the president agreed there would be debate about whether Columbia should even try to follow Harvard in its structuring of financial aid.  Columbia’s current goal is just to get endowment to support the financial aid it already offers.  Every year, he said, university resources for the College, SEAS, and GS are $20-30 million.  While attempting to endow these levels of financial aid, there’s plenty of time to debate the merits of the route Harvard is taking. 

 

The president said he has asked every Columbia dean to state how much endowment would be needed to make it possible either for everyone who qualifies to be able to come regardless of their wealth or family income, or for them not to have to base their career choices on the amount of debt they incur getting through school.  As a former law school dean, he realized that the question of loans has to be weighed against the financial prospects of different careers. Many law graduates immediately make $200,000 a year, with very large income projections over time. Their tuition debt burden is not a major university concern, the president said.  But someone who wants to work in government or Legal Aid or as a prosecutor or human rights lawyer will not make that kind of income.  The president said he has received the reports from the deans, and they have been synthesized into a statement of what Columbia would need to be the first university to meet such standards across the whole institution.  No university does that now, and Columbia is now presenting major donors with the outlines of this plan, which he estimated would cost $2 billion in endowment.

 

Sen. Silverstein suggested the idea of a monograph or other publication laying out both the challenges and opportunities in financial aid for the long term.

 

Sen. David Rosner (Ten., PH) asked about ethical guidelines for Columbia investments. The president said  the Senate would hear a report on this subject a little later in the meeting.

 Committee reports:

Presidential Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault: Maura Bairley, director of the Office of Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Education and co-chair with Lisa Hogarty of PACSA, reviewed the documents that had been distributed for the meeting.

 

Sen. Adler asked why the sample size for a survey of students summarized in the materials Ms. Biarley had distributed to the Senate was so small.

 

Ms. Bairley said she would answer this question after providing a brief overview. She said PACSA was created by the Senate in February 2006, and held its first meeting in September 2007. It met again in December, and will meet again in February. The members are  a mix of faculty from Columbia, Barnard, and Teachers College, senior administrators, and students.    

 

The first meeting reviewed existing resources, as well as the history of efforts to address sexual assault on campus.  Committee members requested further information on the incidence of sexual assault on campus, research on perpetrators of sexual assault, and an audit of current educational efforts. 

 

Ms. Bairley identified seven charges to the committee listed in the founding Senate resolution.  Some have to do with oversight of the disciplinary procedure on sexual assault and with assuring that the university is complying with the Clery legislation.  But the committee has chosen to focus on prevention,  with the best practices from the field of public health that are being used in communities and university campuses across the country.  It feels confident that the elements are in place at Columbia to lead sexual assault prevention and to share the results of this work with colleagues in New York City and elsewhere.

 

The focus on prevention includes a collaboration with a national expert, Lisa Fujie Parks, an MPH based in the Bay Area who’s been consulting for New York City and New York State on comprehensive prevention strategies, looking at the root causes of sexual assault and helping Columbia actually reduce the number of sexual assaults, rather than continuing to improve its response to sexual assault after it has occurred.

 

The second meeting considered both primary prevention efforts—keeping sexual assaults from occurring—and what is known in the field as secondary prevention, which is really intervention to reduce the harm for victims of sexual assault. 

 

Ms. Bairley mentioned a university-wide secondary prevention campaign to be launched in January—the Talk Campaign, a well-designed initiative to decrease the stigma and barriers for people who have been sexually assaulted.  Ms. Bairley said her office has strong but underutilized resources.  The goal is to make sure people are being informed about available services in a developmentally and culturally competent way.

 

The committee also reviewed the annual National College Health Assessment survey, a standard instrument that studies the general health behaviors of undergraduate and graduate students  at 300 colleges and universities, including Columbia, which has now completed the survey twice, with analysis of last year’s results still going on.  This time there is a comparison group of Ivies, revealing differences in health issues and behaviors. 

 

One of the lessons of the committee’s work has been that measurement of sexual assault on campus has been seriously incomplete.  There are snapshots from survey results, or numbers of students who used peer counselors, or numbers who came to primary care and were diagnosed with a sexual assault.  But there has been no comprehensive, specifically crafted research strategy about looking at sexual assault incidents.  The committee may choose to try to tackle this problem, a decision Ms. Bairley said she would support.

 

In answer to the question earlier from Sen. Adler, Ms. Bairley said the response rate for both undergrads and graduate students to the NCHA survey, according to Melissa Kenzig, director of health promotion for the university, was fairly good for this instrument—about 30 percent for undergrads, slightly higher for grad students.

 

Ms. Bairley said there are also Clery Act data providing the number of official reports of sexual assault within university environs, but those numbers are starkly different.  For example, in the NCHA survey 3.1 percent of undergraduate students (at least 60) were projected to have experienced attempted sexual penetration against their will last year, but the Clery number in that category for the Morningside campus was 5.  Ms. Bairley said the goal of secondary prevention efforts like the Talk Campaign is to close that gap.  One measure of success would be an increase in the number of official reports.

 

Ms. Bairley said that last year five students filed complaints with the disciplinary procedure for sexual assault.  Four of the five complaints were adjudicated, with findings that two students were in violation of the sexual misconduct policy.

 

In discussion of the consultant’s presentation, Ms. Bairley said, the committee wanted more information about the role of alcohol in sexual assault and about perpetrators of sexual assault. 

The literature on sexual assault has tended to focus on victims. This doesn’t help a great deal with prevention efforts, which need a better sense of who is committing the assaults, and what might be effective interventions in reaching these people. The committee will be studying these issues during the next two meetings.

 

In response to questions from Sen. Silverstein, Ms. Bairley said Columbia’s numbers are comparable with those of other institutions generally, and with national statistics and anecdotal evidence, though she looked forward to to comparing them with the Ivy League peer group.

As for differences between sexual assault rates for undergraduates and graduate students, she said most sexual assaults are committed by students who know each other, and the social conditions of undergraduate life are particularly supportive of sexual assault in some ways.  So it’s not surprising that there’s less less reported sexual assault among graduate students.

 

Ms. Bairley’s own hypothesis, borne out not so much by research as by her own professional experience, is that there will be less “acquaintance” assault among older students, but there may be more intimate partner violence—a problem that is little understood.

 

Sen. James Applegate (Ten., A&S/NS) wondered if the sample of students reporting kinds of sexual assault is accurately projected as a percentage of the student body as a whole.  He also asked what proportion of student victims of sexual assault are seeking university services.

 

Ms. Bairley guessed that the fraction was minuscule, perhaps less than 10 percent, which is again consistent with research. It’s believed that approximately ten percent of victims will report sexual assault. She said the Talk Campaign will reveal some interesting reasons why that is.  The campaign is trying to speak in a different way to students, encouraging them to report sexual assault incidents more with a view to getting help and moving through their experience, instead of engaging in a formal adjudication process.

 

Sen. Applegate asked about the role of alcohol in sexual assault.  Ms. Bairley said research shows that a major barrier in reporting sexual assault is fear of judgment or punishment if alcohol or other drugs were being recreationally and consensually used by the victim.

 

In response to another question, Ms. Bairley said the vast majority of student victims of sexual assault were assaulted on campus by other students.

 

Sen. Andrea Hauge (Stu., Bus.) asked about outreach efforts to graduate students.  Ms. Bairley said the Talk Campaign will be rolled out first as a pilot program on the Morningside campus, and later at the Medical Center, in academic and administration buildings.  She added that one weakness of prevention efforts has been a failure to engage graduate students, both as partners and as people who need information about services.

 

Ms. Bairley also mentioned the need to engage faculty more fully in the prevention work.  She asked the Senate to help strategize about how to do that job better. 

 

The president thanked Ms. Bairley for her work.  He said it’s completely unacceptable to have any sexual assaults; that there are so many is shocking, a condition that must be publicly condemned. 

 

Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing: Professor Geoffrey Heal of the Business School said the ACSRI began in 2000.  It has four each of students, faculty and alumni, plus the vice president for finance, ex officio.  Its job is to consider social and environmental implications of the university’s investments and to advise the trustees on ethical issues involved. 

Though they are not obliged to, the trustees have accepted 97 percent of the ACSRI’s recommendations. 

 

Prof. Heal identified two types of issues for the committee.  One is shareholder resolutions filed with companies at their annual general meetings. Anyone who holds more than $2000 worth of shares can put a resolution on the agenda.  Activist groups press resolutions about company policies on climate change, on diversity, human rights, wages in developing countries, animal rights, and a whole range of other issues. The ACSRI then recommends voting positions on these resolutions to the trustees.

 

Aside from proxy resolutions, the committee takes up special issues, such as the proposal from a campus group two years ago to divest from companies doing business with the government of the Sudan.  The committee recommended that proposal to the Trustees, who adopted it.

 

Last year a campus group called attention to the record of Chevron Texaco on oil spills in the jungle areas of Ecuador. In that case the committee decided to recommend not divestment but constructive engagement.  It invited the management of the company, as well as Amnesty International, one of the protagonists in a Law School suit against them, to meet with the committee and justify their position.  The committee then wrote a long letter to the CEO with copies to all board members, recommending policy changes.  The letter seems to have had no visible impact whatsoever, Prof. Heal said, though it might be one small addition to broad pressure that builds up on management on issues of this type. 

 

The agenda will be similar this year, Prof. Heal said, with perhaps 200 proxy resolutions.

In addition, the committee must continue to monitor companies in the Sudan.  The list of such companies changes every year and Columbia has to keep track.

 

In addition, the Investment Management Company has asked the ACSRI to look into the issue of tobacco.  It was the university’s policy since before this ACSRI was established not to invest in tobacco stocks.  The IMC has asked for a clarification because the definition of tobacco stock has become more complex in this age of diversified conglomerates: some companies that produce cigarettes and also have significant other activities.  A large part of the tobacco industry is now overseas so there are many major non-U.S. tobacco companies.  What may sound like a hair-splitting exercise is actually important in deciding what precisely a tobacco company is. 

 

This year the ACSRI will engage with Chevron again, not on Ecuador but on its operations in Burma, where they produce oil and gas and pipe it out through a pipeline.  A lot of Burmese government revenue comes from payments made by Chevron.  The committee will be weighing the legitimacy of that arrangement and making some recommendations to the trustees.

 

Prof. Heal said ACSRI will also be taking up issues associated with Dow Chemical, which bought Union Carbide some years ago, assuming its assets but also its liabilities. The worst of these is the legacy of the chemical disaster in Bhopal, India, in the 1980s.  Some activist groups are arguing that Dow is not living up to its responsibilities. 

 

The committee will also hold a conference or workshop in February or March with counterpart committees from other universities established within the last few years.  So far they’ve all operated independently.  The idea is to compare notes and perhaps take common positions on some issues.  The more shares there are behind a resolution, the more influential the vote, Prof. Heal said.

 

Finally, the committee will try to systematize its judgments with voting guidelines for certain classes of proxy resolutions. 

 

Sen. Rosner asked how issues about certain industries, such as the lead industry, might be brought to the attention of the committee.  Prof. Heal said the ACSRI holds a town hall meeting every fall, inviting every member of the community to raise issues of this sort.  He also invited senators to raise issues with him or with committee staff. 

 

The dilemma of whether to divest from a company that is doing something particularly obnoxious or to engage with its management is an interesting one, Prof. Heal said.

 

The president thanked Prof. Heal for his report.

 

            Sen. Paul Duby on effort reporting issues: Sen. Duby said he was speaking for himself, not the Executive Committee.  He recalled that Sen. Daniel Savin (Research Officers)  had raised questions about effort reporting with the president at the October meeting, which were referred to EVP for Research David Hirsh.  At the same time, a number of faculty colleagues were also worrying about effort reporting.  Sen. Duby tried to convince Dr. Hirsch to attend the present meeting and answer questions, to relieve some of the anxiety.

 

What Sen. Duby was able to get was the statement that was distributed at the door, which he considered useful.  Dr. Hirsch and Naomi Schrag, AVP for Compliance, were a bit reluctant to meet with the full Senate, Sen. Duby said, but they agreed in a meeting in Dr. Hirsh’s office, to meet in the coming week with a small group.

 

Sen. Duby recalled his alarm when he saw a statement at the start of the training course in effort reporting, which said that if a certification is found to be falsified, the government may bring criminal charges against the individual certifying the false effort.  But when he read Article 21 of government regulations on effort reporting—the block quotation on the first page of the statement AVP Schrag had distributed—he received a completely different and more reassuring message—that it is often difficult to separate teaching, research, administration and other responsibilities, and that an honest estimate of effort allocated to each of these activities is acceptable. 

 

Sen. Johnson asked for a clarification of effort reporting.

 

Sen. Duby explained that the university is getting a lot of money for research from the federal government, which requires investigators to certify that the money was indeed spent for the right purpose.  This is really a responsibility of the administration, Sen. Duby said, but individuals who are paid from grants have to certify that indeed they did spend the time as indicated. 

 

Sen. Duby said his own grant activity is extremely simple, but for many Columbia people—including those with research appointments—the accounting is much more complex.  He said he had gone through this university’s training course in effort reporting, but was not happy at the end.  He found as many pages of frequently asked questions as of actual instructional material. Any lesson accompanied by 68 frequently asked questions cannot be very well taught, he said.  To laughter, he also showed the certificate he received for completing the course.

 

Sen. Duby cited the confusion about effort reporting as an example of communication with faculty that was not what it ought to be.  He also said that a number of issues need discussion, but won’t get it before the January 15th deadline for effort reporting certification.  He mentioned two examples.  One involves the officer of research whose effort is committed 100 percent to a government grant; this person cannot do any work for the university because that will inevitably reduce the fraction of grant effort. 

 

A similar problem arises for faculty members who have a very significant amount of their salary coming from government grants, Sen. Duby said.  If a professor whose ratio of grant to university effort is 80/20 takes on some small additional duties for the university, he or she must do four times as much work on the grant to keep the ratio constant.

 

Sen. Duby said he would ask EVP Hirsh how other universities are responding to this situation.  He said the reason Columbia is implementing this new process seems to be that Columbia was not doing the accounting quite right in the past.  Sen. Duby said that for 40 years he was never asked to sign anything, and suddenly now he has to sign something about what he did more than a year ago, which he couldn’t remember. 

 

Sen. Duby invited questions.

 

Sen. Silverstein said the government really doesn’t understand what Columbia scientists do, and  faculty by and large also don’t have a full appreciation of the use of federal grants.  A full discussion of this issue might not be appropriate in the Senate, he said, but as the government begins to look more stringently at faculty effort, it would be useful to put together a committee to provide faculty with thoughtful and realistic guidelines.

 

Sen. Silverstein repeated that there is tremendous misunderstanding of these issues.  If federally funded research were conducted mainly through contracts and not grants, he said, many investigators would find great difficulty.  The research is conducted mostly through grants, but the flexibility of grant accounting is enormous, but not infinite.  And the kind of oversight that universities have had from the auditors is a kind of accounting that does not address the way in which researchers work.  He repeated that the topic was appropriate not for public Senate discussion but for a small committee.

 

The president invited Sen. Duby to assemble a small Senate group to talk to EVP Hirsh, and perhaps CUMC Dean Lee Goldman and A&S VP Nicholas Dirks—some group from the administration that is responsible for the faculty and programs that do science.

 

New business:

Resolution to Establish the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life (Education).

Education Committee chair Letty Moss-Salentijn (Ten., CDM) said the committee had approved  the proposal, but also had concerns that she wanted to raise.  The main one was that a number of initiatives around the campus touch on or overlap with the proposed activities of this institute.  The committee decided not to let this reservation delay Senate action, but it also decided to meet with the leadership of the institute later to make sure that its activities become more inclusive of similar campus groups.

 

In the last few days, she said, she had been made to realize how broadly and deeply the issue of religion is playing on the campus. 

In response to a question, Sen. Moss-Salentijn understood that the institute’s $10 million endowment, which might provide about $500,000 a year in operating expenses, would be administered by Arts and Sciences.

 

The Senate then voted without dissent to establish the institute.

 

The president wished senators a good holiday, and adjourned the meeting at around 2:30 pm.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

 

Tom Mathewson

Senate staff