University Senate Proposed: September 26, 2008
MEETING OF MAY 9, 2008
President Lee Bollinger called the Senate to order shortly after 1:15 pm in 501 Schermerhorn. Fifty-two of 99 senators were present during the meeting.
Minutes and agenda: The agenda and the minutes of April 11 were adopted as proposed.
President’s report: The president deferred his report.
Executive Committee chairman’s report: Executive Committee co-chair Paul Duby (Ten., SEAS) said some additional annual committee reports had turned up at the last minute, and might be added to the agenda. Some committees would be presenting detailed, topical reports.
Sen. Duby noted recent events marking the 40th anniversary of 1968, adding that the University Senate will be celebrating its own 40th birthday during 2008-09. He said the Senate staff would be arranging an observance, and possibly providing a summary of the history of the Senate.
Executive Committee co-chair Sharyn O’Halloran called attention to a resolution that had come to the Executive Committee a few days earlier from Columbia faculty members outside the Senate, and that had been distributed at the door. It called for the release of a Tibetan artist and former visiting scholar at Columbia, Jamyang Kyi, who had been detained by Chinese authorities. Sen. O’Halloran said this resolution was not normal business for the Senate, but deserved a response. She said the Senate does not take normally take positions on political issues outside Columbia, and a Senate resolution on this subject should be viewed not as a condemnation of Chinese or Tibetan policy, but perhaps as a statement of support for a member of the academic or the Columbia community—“one of our own”—who is being denied due process.
Sen. O’Halloran said the Senate could either take take up the resolution at the present meeting as a “sense of the senate,” or—the more typical approach—refer it to a committee, in this case probably External Relations, which could bring it back to the Senate in some form in the fall.
Howard Jacobson, the parliamentarian, noted that the Executive Committee had not acted on the resolution, and asked if Sen. O’Halloran was moving it as a member of the Senate.
Sen. O’Halloran said she and Sen. Duby would move the resolution later. The Executive Committee had seen the resolution, but hadn’t taken action on it. She said one committee member—the provost—had supported the resolution, but he was not at the present meeting.
Mr. Jacobson said the Senate by-laws provide that senators may introduce proposals from the floor, which are normally referred to the appropriate committee. He thought a referral of this kind would be the right way to deal with this resolution. He said the Senate could also delegate the matter to the Executive Committee under summer powers. He said there might be an amendment of the resolution to allow some sense of position on this issue, although he wouldn’t say whether such an action would be appropriate.
Mr. Jacobson said that if the Senate was going to pursue the option of voting on the resolution at the present meeting, it would need unanimous consent to suspend the by-laws.
Sen. O’Halloran understood Mr. Jacobson to be saying that the Senate could delegate the matter to the Executive Committee, which could act for the Senate under summer powers, releasing a statement that had the unanimous consent of the Senate at the present meeting.
Someone asked if the Senate could vote unanimously to suspend the rules and then hold a non-unanimous vote. Sen. O’Halloran thought the Senate could do that.
Mr. Jacobson said the Senate by-laws call for unanimous consent to suspend the rules, as opposed to a two-thirds majority, the provision in Robert’s Rules.
A senator understood the by-laws to say that a senator can bring a new motion to the floor with the support of two-thirds of the body.
There was some uncertainty about how to proceed. President Bollinger suggested that the parties figure out how to address the resolution, but not at the present meeting.
Sen. Duby asked senators to read the resolution, so there could be discussion later in the meeting.
Sen. Samuel Silverstein (Ten., P&S) asked if the proponents of the resolution had sent the resolution to larger and more powerful organizations, such as the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association of University Professors, or the Association of American Universities.
Sen. O’Halloran said Prof. Andrew Nathan, a proponent of the present resolution, had been pursuing a number of different avenues, and she would ask if these three groups were among them. But the present resolution is intended for the University Senate, and deserves a response.
Sen. Duby resumed his report, thanking senators at this last meeting of the year for their work. He singled out three people who would not be back in the fall: Mary McGee, the GS dean of students and a nonsenator, who he said had accomplished a great deal in only one year as chair of Structure and Operations, but was now leaving to be become the undergraduate dean of Alfred University in upstate New York; and outgoing student caucus co-chairs John Johnson (Law) and Andrea Hauge (Business), who he said had done an excellent job. There was applause.
Student Affairs on a proposal to create a new commission on diversity. Sen. Johnson reminded senators that a commission on diversity was one of the recommendations of the student caucus report on the implications of the previous fall’s bias incidents, which he and Sen. Hauge had presented at the April 11 plenary.
Sen. Johnson called attention to a revised mandate for the new commission that had been available at the door, and noted its close resemblance to an early mandate (on the next page) of the Commission on the Status of Women, which was created by the Executive Committee in 1971. Sen. Johnson said the present draft incorporated helpful feedback from the Executive Committee, of which he was a member.
Sen. Johnson said the Executive Committee would develop the commission’s final mandate over the summer. But his understanding was that the Executive Committee agreed in spirit with the idea of this commission and would give it at least a reasonable trial period—perhaps two years—to make sure it is playing a useful, non-redundant role.
Sen. Johnson read the mandate aloud, and offered some comments. He read that the commission would be charged with “evaluating and informing the university’s efforts to attract, retain, and adequately support a diverse university community. The commission will consider issues of group status, equity and opportunity along multiple dimensions and intersections of identity which may include issues of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, culture, disability aid, socioeconomic status, religion and national origin.” Sen. Johnson stressed the importance of the use of the word may instead of shall in the second sentence. The idea was to illustrate possible directions for the commission, but not to require pursuing all of them at once.
Sen. Johnson read on: “The commission shall operate with a particular focus on underrepresented communities in three areas of diversity: one, curriculum change; two, recruitment and retention of students, faculty, and staff; and three, the campus climate.” Sen. Johnson then listed stakeholders the commission should be in contact with, such as the vice provost for diversity initiatives, the Commission on the Status of Women, and the Professional Schools’ Diversity Council. The goal was to make sure that the new commission does not duplicate the work of the other groups. Sen. Johnson thought the new commission could make numerous contributions, by tracking performance rates, assessing the effectiveness of efforts to recruit faculty and students, identifying potential barriers, and pointing out possible problems in the campus climate. Sen. Johnson wanted the range of the commission to encompass not only faculty and students but also staff.
He invited comments to take back to the Executive Committee for the final draft of the mandate.
Sen. Daniel Savin (Research Officers) thought there should be a sunset clause for the group, which would not be a standing committee.
Sen. Duby said the Executive Committee discussed this issue. He said that committee would meet during the summer, and bring a formal recommendation in September. In addition to the idea of a two-year trial period, there was some sentiment on Exec for a five-year trial.
Sen. Johnson noted provisions in the mandate that the commission would make regular reports to the parent committee as well as other bodies.
Sen. Savin called for an explicit statement that the commission would end if it doesn’t get renewed. He also said the commission seemed to overlap with the Commission on the Status of Women. Will one commission focus on gender diversity and the other on ethnic diversity?
Sen. Johnson said one thing he had learned from this process is that there are many different notions of diversity and different priorities for dealing with it. He called attention again to the extensive list of potential topics. He stressed that there was no intention to undermine or eclipse what he called the very effective and quite specialized work of Status of Women. Sen. Johnson said that discussions about the new commission had also considered the possibility that a two-year review might find that one commission could address diversity issues better than two.
Another senator asked if a particular need had prompted the creation of this commission.
Sen. Johnson said the need was apparent in the findings of the comprehensive report on bias issues that he had presented at the April plenary. Some of those findings are anecdotal; others reflect a student sense that faculty diversity is insufficient. Others are based on statistical evidence—for example that though the university might be doing well among its peers on a particular dimension of diversity, it could be doing much better. And while Columbia could be doing well on one dimension such as gender or race, it may be doing less well on, say, disability. He noted that Columbia has a lot of older buildings that don’t have the same legal requirements for accessibility as newer buildings. He said there is a need for some group working at a university-side level to keep an eye on these questions.
Sen. Johnson said that just as Status of Women had identified important issues that people might not otherwise have considered, a diversity commission could do a similar service.
Sen. James Applegate (Ten., A&S/NS) asked if Sen. Johnson had met with Vice Provost for Diversity Geraldine Downey and with the Commission on the Status of Women. He said a lot of the mandate for the new commission seemed to duplicate their work.
Sen. Johnson noted that the vice provost for diversity does not deal with students or staff, but with faculty, mainly in the Arts and Sciences. He said there had been meetings with the diversity provost, who had been helpful in shaping the mandate of the diversity commission. There had been similar consultations with the leaders of Status of Women.
Sen. Applegate’s second point concerned curriculum change, one of the priorities listed in the mandate of the new committee. He said faculty generally think they know something about what they teach, and he expressed doubt that a Senate commission could play a useful role in the reformulation of the curriculum. He said curriculum is determined in departments and schools, by people who know what they’re teaching.
Sen. Johnson recognized the level of specialization that faculty have in developing curriculum, but identified a broader issue of whether—validly or not—some students feel unwelcome at Columbia because the curriculum is too narrow and distant. Depending on its assessment of this student response, the commission might recommend broadening the curriculum to include certain groups that are not being studied, or to address some students’ sense of exclusion.
Sen. Johnson said again that he will continue to revise the mandate of the new commission, and that Sen. Applegate will be able to comment again in the Executive Committee. But he added that the language and themes in the current draft mandate were based on those of similar commissions at other universities.
Sen. Robert Pollack (Ten., A&S/NS) agreed with Sen. Applegate about the importance of faculty responsibility for curriculum. He said it is a bad precedent to get in the way of unusual views held by faculty, especially in the classroom, where faculty are most vulnerable in their practice of academic freedom. He couldn’t see how Sen. Johnson’s recommendations would do good, though they might be harmless. He said there is a risk of great harm in the notion that students don’t want to hear some of the things that professors may say in a classroom. Sen. Pollack said he would not want to have a referendum on the subjects that are controversial in some places, such as evolution, which he teaches.
Sen. Johnson recognized Sen. Pollack’s point but said that he in framing the mandate, he had not anticipated a conflict with the principle of academic freedom.
Sen. Pollack expressed concern about a slippery slope into political correctness in the curriculum.
Sen. Duby said the purpose of the present discussion was to get comments from senators to consider in formulating the next draft of the mandate. There would be time for more comments by email during the summer, and at the final plenary discussion of the mandate in the fall.
President Bollinger asked Sen. Johnson if he had gotten comments. Sen. Johnson said he had, though he had some more of his own. The president thanked him for his report.
Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing. In the absence of Prof. Geoffrey Heal, the chair, the ACSRI report was given by Alex Feerst, a Law student. He said the main tasks of the committee were spelled out in a report that had been distributed. The biggest job, recommending proxy votes from the university’s direct investment portfolio, had been going on for the past six weeks and would continue till the end of the semester. The committee’s recommendations to the Trustees are generally followed.
One of the committee’s projects this year had been to develop a negative screening policy, which involves decisions about what companies the university will not invest in. The committee recommended, for example, that the ban on tobacco stocks in the Columbia portfolio does not include other companies—domestic or foreign—that provide supplies to tobacco companies.
Other projects included maintaining the list of companies doing business with the Sudan, in order to continue Columbia’s current ban on investments in such companies; continuing communication with Chevron about oil spills in Ecuador and the company’s relationship with the Burmese government; and following up with Dow Chemical, which took over Union Carbide’s operations in India after the Bhopal disaster nearly 25 years ago, on the question of Dow’s remaining legal and moral responsibility for the consequences of that event.
Mr. Feerst said the attempts to engage with Chevron and Dow represent the more active aspect of the committee’s work, and represent something of a trend among universities.
Mr. Feerst mentioned the conference of committees on socially responsible investing from some 15 universities—the first of its kind—that ACSRI convened earlier in the year at Faculty House. It enabled universities to compare notes for the first time on their rather disparate practices, and to think about active strategies for coordinated action.
Finally, Mr. Feerst said, ACSRI is seeking ways to encourage more input from students and other members of the Columbia community on issues to pursue.
Sen. Silverstein noted that Columbia and other Ivy institutions had a consent decree some time ago that barred consultations with other universities on financial aid. The accusation then was collusion on financial aid and tuition. Would coordinated action on socially responsible investing involve any of the same dangers?
President Bollinger said the anti-trust issue in the financial aid investigation was price-fixing. Collaboration on socially responsible investing is about agreeing on policy objectives, and would not be an anti-trust problem.
Mr. Feerst added that the coordinated action envisioned so far would be something like petitions, co-signed by various universities, on a corporation’s human rights or environmental practices.
The president thanked Mr. Feerst for his report.
Honors and Prizes: Committee chair Debra Wolgemuth (Ten., H&P) raised the issue of how to enhance the involvement of honorary degree recipients in the intellectual life of the institution at the time of Commencement. She said Honors and Prizes had met with department chairs in February as part of an effort to broaden the pool of candidates considered jointly by Senate and Trustee nominating committees for honorary degrees.
The Senate committee kept thinking about ways that the Columbia community could benefit further from the presence of the honorands, in addition to seeing them on stage and hearing their citations at Commencement. Sen. Wolgemuth said the president asked his office of special events to meet with her committee this summer to think about ways to accomplish this goal. She invited senators to contribute ideas, including examples from other institutions, where honorees may be included in seminars, luncheons, and other events. She also reminded senators that the process must remain confidential till very shortly before Commencement.
The president thanked Sen. Wolgemuth for her report.
Faculty Affairs on external funding gaps, and revised guidelines for academic administrators: Sen. Pollack, co-chair of Faculty Affairs, identified two kinds of medical practice—life-saving measures and medicine that prevents the need for life-saving procedures. He said Faculty Affairs has been shifting from the first model to the second in its handling of faculty grievances during his time on the committee. It still hears grievances from faculty and always will, but is striving to head off the need for such grievances. He listed three current initiatives intended to be effective without crisis.
One was a plan to meet in 2008-09 with the Executive Committee of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (ECFAS) and the practitioners association at the Medical Center in order to share the committee’s findings from grievances, and to learn what those groups are working on.
The second concerned the Revised Guidelines for the Conduct of Academic Administrators which had been distributed for the present meeting. Sen. Pollack reminded senators of the May 2007 resolution (tabled after debate) to publish the 2003 version of the Senate’s guidelines for deans in the Faculty Handbook. He said the revised guidelines now before the Senate (for discussion only) would be sent to the Council of Deans for their consideration in 2008-09. If there is agreement, Faculty Affairs will bring the consensus document to the Senate for final approval, with a final recommendation for publication in the Faculty Handbook.
At the end of the revised guidelines, Sen. Pollack said, was an elegant letter from President Bollinger, affirming that freedom to disagree with the university itself lies at the very heart of academic freedom. He said the committee welcomed comments on the revised guidelines from everyone, but especially from faculty.
Sen. Pollack said the committee’s third initiative mainly concerned faculty in the sciences, who are supported by funds in addition to university money. One issue for this group is a mandate to track their percentage of effort on grants in a more precise and accurate way than before. Now the time needed to prepare grant applications (and carry out some other obligations) can no longer be charged to grants, and must be borne by the university. These changes have already had an impact on institutional budgets, Sen. Pollack said. Where the money comes from to pay these costs, and how it is allocated, are questions the committee intends to participate in addressing in 2008-09.
A second issue for funded researchers is addressed by the other committee report, Sen. Pollack said. Under the present federal administration, funding levels from National Institutes of Health and other agencies have remained generally flat. At the same time costs have risen, partly because of the collapse of the dollar, which has made anything made outside the U.S. much more expensive than a few years ago. A serious problem for the university in this funding environment is the investment it must make in junior faculty without track records, with the risk that their research won’t be funded or renewed.
Sen. Pollack said this report consisted of a letter to President Bollinger, to cover a memo from Prof. Arthur Karlin of the Medical School about the implications of a survey he had conducted to find out the scale of the external funding gap for researchers.
Sen. Pollack closed by expressing the committee’s hope that the president and Trustees—not a dean, because no dean has the money right now—will find the kind of generosity they found in making undergraduate financial aid more market-share sensitive, to make funding available on a competitive basis for junior faculty members who have been stiffed by the government after Columbia spent the money to bring them here. From the vantage of the Faculty Affairs Committee, such a funding initiative would be an act of both compassion and good investment.
Sen. Daniel Savin (Research Officers) rose to speak, but Sen. Pollack anticipated his statement,
saying that research officers should be allowed to compete along with other investigators for any centrally administered bridge fund for people excluded from federal funding.
The president said, to laughter, that Sen. Savin had been so effective over time in representing his constituency that he didn’t even have to speak any more.
Prof. Karlin said he had become interested in this issue a few years ago as a member of the Budget Review Committee. He knew anecdotally that NIH funding was getting increasingly chaotic and people at the Medical Center were suffering, and he supposed the same was true elsewhere in the University. He tried to find a way to figure out more precisely what the damage was, but the administration had no database with this information. So he sent out a survey to all faculty, but many never received it. In the end, 163 people responded, representing every division of the universityand every faculty rank, with about an equal number of tenured and nontenured faculty. The survey yielded an estimate of the size of the external funding gap.
To clarify the purpose of the survey, Prof. Karlin read the preamble: “Scholarly activities in all fields are funded to some extent from sources outside the university. Delays, gaps and unexpected reductions in external awards weaken the ability of the university to fulfill one of its key missions. In some cases research projects are slowed or abandoned, research personnel are lost, and research facilities are closed. Young faculty members in whom the university has invested dearly can have their careers sidetracked and may leave. Significant portions of the salaries of many faculty members are paid from external awards. Our subcommittee has been charged with assessing the extent of and approaches to the problem of gaps in external funding. So we send you this questionnaire in order to assess the nature and magnitude of the problem and to solicit your opinions about possible university-wide policies to deal with it.”
Prof. Karlin said the questionnaire was to be answered only by people who had external funding in the last three years. The responses covered roughly 9 percent of the external funding listed in the annual report of the university.
Prof. J. P. Mohr, co-chair of Faculty Affairs, added that NIH has in recent years been relatively slow in issuing continuation awards. For him, an award came nine months late, during which time the investigators were expected to continue their work, and pay the research team. Another continuation award is now six months in arrears. The NIH says its staff is small and overworked. Prof. Mohr said it would be helpful if the university could, as a matter of policy, help with non-competing awards by stepping in and covering these gaps, instead of having departments hunt for intervening funds that may not exist.
Sen. Silverstein asked Prof. Karlin if he would be interested in reissuing the survey, and getting a larger response.
Prof. Karlin said the spotty reception of the survey by faculty was not the only problem; the response itself was also spotty, which he saw as part of the nature of the problem. His own recommendation, to help people in need immediately and to protect the valuable assets of the university that have gone into recruiting these people, was to establish a modest bridge fund right away to help the neediest faculty, namely junior faculty on the tenure track.
Prof. Karlin said an assumption that the fund might cover 50 percent of the urgent need—roughly half of the applicants and the amount being applied for—would mean the fund would have to be somewhere between $2.5 million and $3.5 million a year. Prof. Karlin said setting up such a fund would quickly reveal the scale of the problem because people would apply for funds. He said this approach would both help people right away, without another year of studies, and provide a more accurate measure of the problem.
President Bollinger asked if Prof. Karlin had talked to CUMC Dean Goldman and other senior administrators about this problem.
Prof. Karlin said he had sent his proposal to Dean Goldman, who responded that it looked fine, but he had no money to fund it.
Sen. Pollack said he had had a similar conversation with Provost Brinkley. He stressed that such responses from administrators are not disingenuous. He said the problem had snuck up on the institution, which takes a Hobbesian approach to outside funding. He thought the real university-wide issue is whether that approach is a sensible investment policy once the institution bets on young faculty by setting up a lab for them.
The president took Sen. Pollack’s point, but said the extent of the problem remained unclear. As a former dean, he had a clear sense of how deans are always trying to find funding to bridge important priorities, including research. He wondered if this process was what was going on now with scientific research. Maybe the system is taking care of this problem for the best young faculty in this ad hoc, local way.
Prof. Karlin agreed that the system is working in this ad hoc way now, to some extent. But given the new financial paradigm, he didn’t think it would continue to work in the future. Referring again to the imperfect database his survey had assembled on external funding—with 163 responses, perhaps only 10 percent of the total number of people receiving external funding—he stressed that his assumptions about the data were conservative, and he was confident that his conclusions were not overestimating the problem. Even the partial figures he had compiled revealed a gap of a couple of million dollars, before he added the conservative assumptions that he had outlined in his memo. He multiplied the figures he had received by one and a half, to get a very conservative estimate of the need, when he could have multiplied numbers based on 9 percent of total external funding by 11.
Prof. Karlin concluded that he didn’t think the problem was being addressed at the departmental level any more. He saw more people getting ready to close laboratories.
Sen. Pollack stressed the awareness of Faculty Affairs of the limitation of the study in the face of the size and immediacy of the problem. If there were a fund in addition to deans’ budgets made available for competitive distribution according to an appeals process, administrators would quickly learn the scale of the problem beyond what they can cover. He said nothing Faculty Affairs is saying need prevent administrators from finding some other source for a bridge fund, such as ICR. But the committee hoped the additional knowledge could be acquired through the experiment of setting up a fund, so that no one is punished while further study goes on.
Sen. Silverstein said that the real shortfall to the universityin research funding was probably much more than $2-3 million. If NIH funding to the university is on the order of $300 million, and most of that is going to the Medical Center, the shortfall in real growth from several years of flat funding, including the resulting loss in ICR, may be on the order of 20 percent in spending power. In addition many grants have been cut “voluntarily” because the NIH is trying to distribute the money more widely, with the results Prof. Mohr had described. The scale of the shortfall is staggering, Sen. Silverstein said.
Sen. Silverstein also noted a major change in the relationship between faculty and the University. Faculty are now in a business relationship with the university, especially in view of what has happened to indirect costs at the Medical Center. He said this new situation requires study by both faculty and the administration because many aspects of this business relationship don’t work under the current model. He said this was not an antagonistic remark—faculty and the administration are all in this together. But there are now competing interests, and whose ox is gored depends on who is making the decisions.
The president thanked Faculty Affairs for its work on an important subject.
Annual committee reports:
Housing Policy. Co-chair Craig Shwalbe (NT, SW) said his report was partly an update on the resolution passed by the Senate in February requesting a policy on how capital expenses are allocated to rents for Columbia tenants. Sen. Schwalbe said the policy has been slow in coming. Importantly, he said, officials have acknowledged the need to conduct a broader review of strategies in place to finance the long-term maintenance of the housing stock.
Sen. Schwalbe said Housing Policy annual reports for the past few years have warned that the current financing arrangement is unsustainable. There’s a trade-off between rents and debt that comes into play every year, and the debt burden that is imposed on housing—and ultimately on rents—is mounting. He said the administration is conducting an internal review over the summer, and has made a commitment to present its conclusions in writing in 2008-09.
Sen. Schwalbe mentioned the committee’s attempt during the year to address housing issues affecting graduate students and GS students, along with the problem of the availability of housing to new faculty and students. He said the provost’s office is also developing new housing policies related to retirement, and will be reviewing those with the committee over the summer for further discussion in 2008-09.
The president thanked Sen. Schwalbe for his report.
Structure and Operations. Committee chair Mary McGee, GS dean of students, said the committee had focused on issues of Senate participation, with particular attention to orientation procedures, representation, and attendance. She summarized three initiatives.
One, starting this summer, would institutionalize acknowledgement letters to be sent by Senate leaders to each senator and each non-senator serving on a Senate committee thanking them for their service. The recipients can also ask to have their supervisors, deans, or chairs copied on the letters. For the present meeting the committee had circulated forms for this purpose, and there would also be an email,
A second project was to organize an annual orientation for all new senators starting in the fall of 2008, to introduce them to the structure of the Senate and its committees and review the rights and responsibilities of senators.
A third was a structure to begin a systematic review of Senate committees, commissions and task forces, with a goal of completing three reviews a year starting in the fall of 2008.
Dean McGee said Structure and Operations has been concerned for several years about participation in elections and Senate attendance, and has embarked on several projects to enhance the visibility of the Senate and its work throughout the Columbia community. Toward the end of broadening participation in the Senate, the committee had brought to the present meeting a resolution to limit the number of standing committees any one individual may chair. S&O had discussed the resolution over several meetings, debating whether the limit should apply just to standing committees or all committees; whether there should be term limits for committee chairs, and whether the limit should be smaller than two committees per person. There were also consultations with senators outside the committee. She concluded that deliberations for this resolution had been careful and thoughtful. She then read the resolution aloud.
Mr. Jacobson, a member of Structure and Operations, said after talking to the secretary that the Senate was well short of the three-fifths attendance needed to amend the by-laws. But he thought it would still be useful to introduce the measure at the present plenary. He hoped the Senate could act on the measure in the fall.
Dean McGee asked the Senate informally if sentiment about the resolution was positive. She understood from the reaction that it was.
The president thanked Dean McGee for her report.
Education. In the absence of the chair, Sen. Letty Moss-Salentijn (Ten., CDM), Sen. Applegate reported for the committee. He said the group had met with two teachers from the Columbia Secondary School for Science, Math and Engineering, and later with the school principal. He said the committee was collectively quite concerned about the program’s progress.
Sen. Applegate said the school has a sixth-grade class of 94 students, and a new sixth-grade class has been admitted. The committee has been told that the building that will house the high school, which is supposed to stand on a par with Bronx Science, Brooklyn Tech, and Stuyvesant, will not be ready for at least four years. Sen. Applegate said Columbia might be thought of as pregnant in this scenario, with the promise of a ring from the City, but the ring won’t come in time. What will be done with these students in the meantime?
In addition, Sen. Applegate said, Prof. David Helfand, chairman of the astronomy department, was startled to learn from a newspaper that the astrophysics course was being developed for the school by somebody he hadn’t heard of. Sen. Applegate said the A&S science chairs know nothing about the development of the curriculum, and he himself knew nothing about the engineering curriculum. But what the committee had heard was distressing.
Sen. Applegate said the high-end potential for the school, in conjunction with the Columbia science and engineering faculty, is quite spectacular. But the actual course of events so far has been very worrisome.
The president said he didn’t know how to respond to Sen. Applegate’s concerns. Sen. Applegate asked for reassurance that he was mistaken about the program.
The president said he hadn’t had any contact with the school. He reminded Sen. Applegate that it is a New York City public school, and Columbia’s primary responsibility is to provide the land in Manhattanville on which the school will be constructed. A second set of responsibilities for Columbia is to provide academic advice and assistance, but not to teach or design the curriculum. He said the City has made a commitment to take the bulk of the students from upper Manhattan, and to provide any special training these students may need starting in sixth grade. This process is underway, the president said, and he hadn’t received any complaints about it.
The president said he knew nothing about astrophysics courses or about discussions in the sciences about the school curriculum, and Sen. Applegate’s report was generally surprising to him. He said the University’s responsibility for this school—along with the private school Columbia operates—is lodged in the provost’s office.
Sen. Applegate thought there was enormous support and enthusiasm among Columbia science faculty for the curriculum of the school. The president agreed.
--Resolution to Establish a Dual Master of International Affairs from SIPA and Master of Public Policy from the National University of Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. Sen. Applegate said the idea of the program was that students will take the first year of the program at their home institution, and then each institution will nominate a few students to spend a second year at the other institution, which can decide which students to accept.
In response to a question from the president, Sen. Applegate said the program offered two degrees, not one joint degree.
Without further discussion the Senate voted to approve the resolution without dissent.
--Resolution Concerning Summer Powers. The president read the resolution delegating to the Executive Committee the authority to act in the Senate’s name during the summer.
Sen. Savin noted that research officers don’t have a seat on the Executive Committee. He said the Research Officers Committee would be meeting during the summer. He appealed to the Executive Committee to consult with researchers on any business related to them.
The Senate then approved the resolution without dissent.
Resolution Calling for the Release of Former Visiting Scholar Jamyang Kyi from Detention in Tibet (China). Mr. Jacobson reviewed the three possibilities for Senate action discussed earlier: the Senate could refer the resolution to committee; it could suspend the by-law requiring referral to a committee and vote on the resolution at the present meeting; or it could provide guidance on an appropriate statement for the Executive Committee acting under summer powers. Mr. Jacobson said again that the usual policy of the Senate is not to intervene in what are viewed as political issues.
The president made two points. The first was that he would probably issue a statement himself as president on this issue. He was consulting with faculty members with expertise on China and Tibet, a discussion that was not over. He suggested that if the Senate wanted to make a statement of its own, it may also want to consult with experts.
The president’s second point was that finding out the facts in a situation like this and figuring out how to say something in such a way as to further the objectives one wants without incurring costs that should be avoided is complicated, especially in international matters. He urged the Senate to think carefully about how to proceed.
Sen. Pollack suggested that since the issues are complex, and since the president is working on them, the Senate should conduct a straw poll on the proposal to allow the Executive Committee to decide whether to support a statement made by the president on this issue.
Mr. Jacobson saw no reason why the Senate could not formally vote on a motion to that effect.
Sen. O’Halloran understood the proposal to be that the Senate delegate this issue to the Executive Committee to consider in the normal course of summer powers, and to decide whether to endorse a statement from the president or not.
The motion was seconded, then adopted by the Senate, with one abstention.
Another senator favored adopting the resolution right away. He said it was very mild; meanwhile, the person had been in jail for weeks.
Sen. O’Halloran said this was a valid statement, but the Senate and the Executive Committee wanted an opportunity to consider the motion and the appropriate language to be used in this situation, particularly since the notice on this resolution had been so short.
Sen. Applegate asked if the Executive Committee, even without the motion the Senate had just passed, could act under summer powers on behalf of the Senate on a statement about this issue.
Sen. O’Halloran agreed that the motion simply reaffirmed the Executive Committee’s ability to act in this way.
Sen. Applegate expressed deep ambivalence about having the Senate issue statements on political issues. Sen. O’Halloran agreed.
Sen. Applegate said he had just heard about this issue at the present meeting, and would like a chance to think about it.
Sen. O’Halloran agreed, but added that it was appropriate for the Senate to have a consultative role in this deliberation.
Mr. Jacobson understood that the Senate had just voted to refer the resolution to the Executive Committee to consider under summer powers and to take account of what the president does, but not necessarily to be bound by it.
The president said he would give the president’s report in September. He said the academic year year now ending had been a wonderful though complicated year, but the university is in good shape for the coming year. He adjourned the meeting at about 2:50 p.m.
Tom Mathewson, Senate staff