University Senate      

Proposed: September 25, 2009

Adopted: September 25, 2009

 

MEETING OF MAY 1, 2009

President Lee Bollinger, the chairman, called the committee to order shortly after 1:15 pm in the Schapiro Engineering Auditorium. Fifty senators of 92 were present during the meeting.

Minutes and agenda.  The minutes of April 3 and the agenda were adopted as proposed.

President’s report.  The president said his report about the University’s finances would be about the same as at every Senate meeting since December.  He said Columbia would end the year on or close to budget, and for the coming year the university had gone through a successful, if difficult, process to address an environment of more constrained resources, beginning with the central administration, but going on to the schools and colleges.  The constraints were attributable almost entirely to the recent fall in the endowment, because other revenues—from tuition, clinical practice, and grants—remained strong and in some cases were up. 

As for the endowment, the president said he didn’t like to report the numbers month by month.  He said he would probably issue an update sometime in the next week.  For the time being he could say only that Columbia appeared to be faring better than peer institutions.

The president said Columbia is in a difficult environment, but not as difficult as the one peer institutions are facing.  He thought the university had negotiated its way through this academic year successfully, and he was proud of the work many people had done across the institution. 

The president invited questions.  There were none. 

Executive Committee chair’s report.  Sen. Duby recalled the debate at the previous plenary, where the Senate had approved a new university-wide policy on conflict of interest in research.  He said some members of the Faculty Affairs Committee prepared a resolution requiring people who have income outside of the university through consulting to report that income within the university.  The resolution to enact the new conflict of interest policy had called for the removal of the two policy statements in Faculty Handbook (Appendices E and F) that actually addressed the question of consulting income.  After discussion, Faculty Affairs agreed to withdraw its resolution, but resolved to instead to work over the summer to review those two appendices to make sure that they do complement the present financial conflict of interest policy. 

Executive Committee co-chair Sharyn O’Halloran (Ten., SIPA) added that Appendix E of the Faculty Handbook actually had appropriate language covering issues of conflict of commitment (as opposed to conflict of interest in research) that should stay in place.  When the previous month’s resolution called for supplanting Appendix E, it inadvertently left out policy language covering conflict of commitment.  So that language will stay on the books, Sen. O’Halloran said. 

Sen. O’Halloran added that she and Sen. Duby had held a successful meeting with trustees and President Bollinger, looking at and expanding the pool of prospective nominees for the position of Senate-consulted Trustee. She said there was now a strong pool moving forward, and senators had been asked to update the pool annually.  She invited senators to submit recommendations for possible Senate-consulted Trustees.  She thanked President Bollinger for proposing these steps. 

Sen. Paige West (Fac., Barnard) asked how suggestions for nominees should be submitted.  Sen. O’Halloran referred senators to Senate staffer Justine Blau. 

Resolution Concerning Summer Powers.  Sen. Duby then moved the annual resolution on summer powers, calling on the Executive Committee to act in the name of the Senate over the summer, but only in emergencies.

Sen. Daniel Savin (Research Officers) noted the lack of research officer representation on the Executive Committee.  He said the Research Officers Committee would be meeting over the summer, and he asked to be informed of any issues relevant to researchers that might arise.  Sen. Duby reassured Sen. Savin on this point. 

The Senate adopted the Resolution Concerning Summer Powers by voice vote, without dissent.

Sen. Duby noted that almost no student senators were present.  The staff member explained that they were still in a caucus meeting. 

Committee annual reports.
--Alumni Relations.  Nothing to report.

            --Budget Review (distributed for the meeting).  Sen. Soulaymane Kachani (Nonten., SEAS), the chair, said the committee had had a busy year because of the current budget crisis.  There were a number of fruitful meetings with administrators, including three meetings with the Executive Vice President for Finance Anne Sullivan, two meetings with Senior Executive Vice President Robert Kasdin, and meetings with EVP for Development Susan Feagin, EVP for Student and Administrative Services Jeff Scott, and Dean of Career Education Kavita Sharma, and CUMC EVP Lee Goldman. The committee also met with three Business professors to learn about endowment strategy, and with Narv Narvekar, president of the Columbia Investment Management Company. 

Sen. Kachani said the committee had had difficulty getting some data it considered necessary.  It was now trying to address recent obstacles in its efforts to interact with the trustees.  Sen. Kachani said the committee had been unable to attend meetings of the Trustees Finance Committee so far this year.  It would also seek additional information on the management of the endowment.  Sen. Kachani said peer institutions such as Harvard and Yale are doing a better job of communicating information about their endowment.  The committee would also work with Robert Kasdin and Anne Sullivan to increase its involvement in the process of setting budget parameters for the coming year and its access to timely budget information throughout the year.     

Education (distributed at the meeting).  Committee co-chair Letty Moss-Salentijn said the report was fairly straightforward and non-controversial. The one potentially controversial issue involved the academic calendar, in particular the question of whether to move the date of Commencement 2010.  She said the committee had seriously considered this problem, devoting time to it at three meetings, and even voting on it twice to make sure there was agreement.  Education decided not to move the Commencement date for a religious holiday on the grounds that Columbia is a secular institution, and the calendar should not be in any way be determined by religious holidays.  The committee understood that its decisions would cause some difficulty, which it was prepared to discuss more fully.

President Bollinger said he had taken this issue to the trustees, who had voted unanimously the day before to authorize the university to change the date of Commencement 2010.  The president said there were reasonable arguments on both sides of the issue.   He acknowledged the Education Committee’s argument that Columbia is a secular institution, and therefore should not in any way change its academic events for religious observances.  His own view, shared by Provost Brinkley and the Trustees, was that Columbia is a secular university, but that it also wanted to try to accommodate the commitments and feelings of the community when they reach a certain level.  He said it’s always difficult to define at what point a substantial number of students or faculty cannot participate in something because of a deep commitment.  And an event like Commencement cannot be made up or redone.  People who have to forego Commencement miss an event of great importance to them.  The institution certainly wants people to feel this way about Commencement.

The president said such feelings should be accommodated if at all possible.  He added that similar accommodations had been made twice in the past, so there was precedent.  He said the general standard should be the one he had articulated.  

Sen. Moss-Salentijn asked whether the president planned to move the date of Commencement in 2018 for Ramadan.

The president said he had only heard an hour before about the conflict in 2018, and wanted a chance to think about it. On the face of it, he said, Ramadan struck him as a parallel example.

Sen. Robert Pollack (Ten., A&S/NS) said he thought the decision to move Commencement 2010 was the right one, and it also preserved precedents.  He also asked why the Senate continued to meet on Friday, a day that excludes devout Muslims.  He wondered if the decision to preserve the precedent of generosity for religious observance might prompt a reexamination of other behaviors.  He was prepared to bet, for example, that the Education Committee had never met on a Sunday.  He said the tradition of a secular university should require a reexamination of the university’s history, including the fact that Columbia had only Episcopalian presidents until Dwight Eisenhower in the middle of the 20th century.

Sen. O’Halloran said it was appropriate to strike a balance.  She said she respected the Education Committee’s thoughtful review of this issue.  She thought it was important to preserve the ideal of the secular institution, but also to balance the concerns of the community.  She thought the debate on this issue was a healthy thing to have happened.
Howard Jacobson, the parliamentarian, said that quite apart from the principle of the secular university and the role of Dwight Eisenhower, New York law requires the university in many ways to accommodate religious beliefs and observances, and Columbia’s policy as articulated in the publication that used to be called FACETS, still affirms that officers of administration and of instruction responsible for scheduling academic activities or essential services are expected to avoid conflict with religious holidays as much as possible. 

Sen. Moss-Salentijn recognized this point, but distinguished it from the issue of having the calendar of the university dictated by religious holidays. 

President Bollinger thought everyone realized that there was no pure position on this issue, which required sustained reflection on the nature of the institution, with a comfort level, and with judgment.  He said that didn’t mean there wouldn’t or shouldn’t be disagreement.  But he thought an awareness of this kind was the framework for approaching such issues. He repeated that he respected the judgment of the Education Committee, but that he had arrived at a different judgment, which the trustees had endorsed.

External relations.  Sen. O’Halloran said the report was in the mail, but the committee had been extremely busy on the conflict of interest policy this year.  She thought the whole Senate had effectively played its proper role in forming policy and consensus across the university.  She thanked everyone who had taken part in the deliberations and incorporated new ideas into the policy.  

Other issues addressed by External Relations included the elaboration of the code of conduct for vendors of licensed Columbia apparel, which had made only minimal progress so far.  The committee was continuing to monitor the Designated Suppliers Program, which may allow a possible prototype for regulation outside of any existing legal framework or binding contracts. The committee would explore the implications of this possibility. 

The committee was also again looking at issues connected to Manhattanville.

Faculty Affairs.  Co-chair Robert Pollack (Ten., A&S/NS) presented the committee’s annual report, which had been distributed for the meeting.  He said the grievance process had shown that the committee does a good job of maintaining confidentiality and of seeing that university rules are followed.

Sen. Pollack said the committee had brought two resolutions to the Senate floor: one on Lamont research professors, and one on extending the tenure clock at the Medical Center.  Both became policy.  Sen. Pollack also mentioned the attached draft resolution on non-disclosure of outside income, and looked forward to discussion of this issue in the fall. 

Sen. Pollack turned to the arrangement agreed upon this year for meetings with the provost about budgetary impacts on academic affairs, tenure, and academic freedom.  From such meetings the committee had learned a remarkable amount about the provost’s priorities: in the coming year adjuncts would be cut, leaves and new hires would be deferred, and teaching loads in Arts and Sciences would rise to levels of about a decade ago, all in order to ensure, in the provost’s words,  that “financial aid for our undergraduates and tenure for faculty are not subject to financial limitations at this time.”  These deliberations would define the committee’s agenda for the coming year.

Housing policy.  Sen. Craig Schwalbe (NT, SW), the chair, said the past year had been very busy—and in the end very frustrating—for his committee, which learned that the current economic disaster had delayed the administration’s budget process.  Since the committee had not yet received the housing budget for the coming year, it could not present the report it is charged by its mandate to present to the Senate.

Sen. Schwalbe also recalled the Housing Policy resolution that the Senate had passed in February 2008 about the allocation of rental income to capital expenses.  The committee had waited patiently for a response to this resolution from the administration. Midway through the present academic year the committee started hearing from its administrative members that discussions were going on within the administration in response to that resolution.  But the committee had been unable to learn about those conversations, which may also have been delayed partly by the current crisis. 

The committee had discussed its options carefully, with some disagreement, deciding finally to continue waiting for a response from the administration. 

Sen. Schwalbe said a new perspective in committee discussion concerns alternative approaches to housing, for new faculty who do not opt for renting university apartments.  What resources and opportunities can the university provide to make housing available outside the Columbia market?  The committee will explore this issue further in the coming year.  

Sen. Schwalbe said the committee had also been studying student complaints about Columbia housing, but was not prepared to offer recommendations yet.  He noted a discrepancy between exit surveys conducted annually by University Apartment Housing, which show high levels of satisfaction, and comments received from student tenants at an early stage of their stay in Columbia housing, which tell a different story. 

President Bollinger asked to have complaints sent to his office, which would try to address them. 

Information and Communications Technology.   No report.

Libraries.  No report.
Physical Development.  To be given in the fall. 
Officers of Research.  To be given in the fall. 
Rules of Conduct. No report. 
Commission on the Status of Women.  Co-chair Patricia Kitcher (Nonsen,, Ten., Philosophy) said the Commission had spent most of its eight meetings on a proposed policy on consensual relations.  There were three primary goals:  addressing conflicts of interest, protecting students from foreseeable harm from such relationships, and upholding the professional standards of the university.

Prof. Kitcher said the Commission’s deliberations took a lot of time, because it is difficult to figure out how to handle situations that should not be occurring at all.  But she said reality intrudes, and people need to find a way to cope with what happens next.  The Commission followed up on a student survey conducted the previous year.  It also checked on peer institutions, which she said are generally ahead of Columbia in addressing this issue.  Susan Rieger, associate provost for equal opportunity and affirmative action, had been extremely helpful to the Commission, which had produced draft after draft after draft, and was fairly happy with the latest one.  It would be circulated within the administration in an effort to get a clean final product to the Senate in the fall.

Prof. Kitcher said the Commission planned to work in the coming year on the tricky problem of the allocation of fringe monies.  The Commission will ask a simple question: Do the fringe allocations treat women fairly, and reasonably represent women’s interests?

Sen. O’Halloran asked the Commission to circulate the consensual policy to Faculty Affairs and other Senate committees at an early stage for feedback. 

Prof. Kitcher said the policy would be widely circulated.  Currently it was in the provost’s office, and it would be going to the General Counsel during the summer.  She hoped the version that comes to the Senate will represent a consensus among knowledgeable people.

Another senator asked whether salary disputes between male and female officers of instruction were within the Commission’s purview.

Prof. Kitcher said the commission looked into these issues some years ago, and she could give a more precise answer after going through the files a little more.  

Sen. Michael Adler (Ten., Bus.) asked if the Commission knew the probability of getting tenure
for a female assistant professor who has a child.

Prof. Kitcher said she didn’t know the answer.  One common topic in Commission discussion had been what might be called the climate for pregnancy.  The Commission takes no position on whether women should or should not have children. It would like for all different lifestyles to be fully represented at Columbia, without prejudice.  She understood that policy had been passed not long ago allowing for extensions of the tenure clock for however many children one has. 

Sen. O’Halloran said the policy allows one year per child up to a total of two years.  She said Roxie Smith of the provost’s office could provide a full explanation.

Prof. Kitcher said the commission might want to revisit this issue.

Sen. O’Halloran said two years was the current limit, but this policy might be under current discussion.

President Bollinger confirmed that the policy was under current discussion.

Sen. O’Halloran pointed out that the leave is not just maternal, but applies to both males and females.  She also mentioned the half-time option, which she said deserved more attention as a promising possibility, especially for young female assistant professors.

Sen. West said there had been extensive study at Barnard of the relationship between child-bearing and academic careers, and the Commission might want to make use of some that work.

Sen. James Applegate (Ten., A&S/NS), a former member of the Commission, said the answers to some questions about tenure rates might be found in the “pipeline” studies the Commission had done on the Arts and Sciences faculty.  He said the Commission had not compared tenure rates for women with children and without.  It had compared at tenure rates for women and men. 

Structure and Operations (distributed for the meeting).  No report.

Student Affairs.  Student senators still had not arrived from their caucus. 
Task Force on Campus Planning.  Sen. O’Halloran reported that all Senate committees had contributed drafts of short contributions to a large Task Force report on academic planning for Manhattanville, to be completed over the summer, with a presentation of the results planned for the fall.  This effort might combine well with current work of the Arts and Sciences space planning committee, providing a concrete way to think about a total picture and a basic governance structure going forward.  Plans are also underway to merge the Task Force with Physical Development in a new standing committee, with a new name and mandate and some of the functions that the Task Force has performed.  A proposal would go to Structure and Operations in the fall. 

Elections Commission.  Commission chair Daniel Shin (Stu, Law) said the group was
hearing an appeal of a recent election in the Engineering School, for the seat currently held by student senator Timur Dykhne.  Sen. Shin expected to reach a decision shortly.

Sen. Shin read the names of newly elected or reelected senators:  Shukree Tilghman (Stu., Arts), Michael Adler and Frank Lichtenberg (both Ten., Bus),  Alex Frouman and Tim Lam ( both Stu., CC), Letty Moss-Salentijn (Ten., Dental School), Yael Fischer (Stu., Law), Sharyn O’Halloran (Ten., SIPA), Lucius Riccio (NT, SIPA), Pablo Espinel (Stu., SIPA),  Sunny Uppal (Stu., Public Health),  Ronald Bayer (Ten., Public Health), and Wafaa El-Sadr (NT, Public Health). 

President’s Advisory Committee on Sexual Assault.  Helen Arnold, program manager for the Office of the Disciplinary Procedure for Sexual Assault, summarized a statement that had been distributed on adjudicated cases of student sexual assault in 2008-09.  She said four formal complaints had been filed and adjudicated, three in Columbia College and one in General Studies. During the spring semester, approximately fourteen students visited the office looking for options to adjudicate cases.  Ms. Arnold said the Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Program, in collaboration with DPSA, conducted first responder training, educating administrative staff and faculty about the reporting requirements of the Clery Act on campus crime.  Ms. Arnold said her office had received nine reports that would be submitted to pubic safety in compliance with the Clery legislation. She invited questions.

In response to questions, Ms. Arnold said Clery reporting is done annually, with the numbers published in FACETS.

New business.
Resolution to Publish Course Descriptions, Textbook Information, and Reading Lists Online Prior to the Start of Each Semester (Education, Student Caucus).  Sen. William Freeland (Stu., CC), a member of the Education Committee, read the resolution, which had been distributed.

Sen. O’Halloran proposed changing the Resolved clause to “that schools ask professors to post course descriptions, etc.” 

Sen. Amena Cheema (Stu., Arts), co-chair of the student caucus, accepted the amendment as friendly on behalf of the caucus.

Sen. West supported the spirit of the amendment, saying that any effort to reduce the sense of an “audit culture” for faculty would be welcome.  She said faculty are generally good sports about doing something they are invited to do, rather than required to do.

Sen. Adler suggested replacing the generic term “online” with a specific recommendation to put the course information on CourseWorks.

Sen. Freeland said some professors don’t use CourseWorks. He said it would help to have course information on department websites. 

Sen. O’Halloran noted that CourseWorks was being replaced by Sakai, a new platform. So it would not be helpful to refer to a program that will be phased out in 3-5 years.  She suggested that a generic reference to “online” posting would be adequate.  

Sen. Moss-Salentijn said the idea was to publish the course information publicly and not in CourseWorks, a system requiring registration. 

Education Committee Co-chair James Applegate said he had left the language intentionally vague on how to publicize the course information, to leave room to do what the university wants to do, without running the risk of being out of compliance with Congressional mandates. 

Sen. Paul Thompson (Alum.) supported Sen. Moss-Salentijn’s point about the need for public access to course information. He mentioned alumni auditors, a group not in CourseWorks that needs course information

Sen. Frances Pritchett (Ten., A&S/Hum) said it was possible to configure CourseWorks in such a way that the entire Columbia community has access to it.  She also asked whether the main issue in the resolution was timeliness or having electronic access.

Sen. Freeland said an online presentation is important because it provides the easiest access for students.  But he said time is also an important factor.  Now students who don’t know much about a class will show up during the first week, adding to the general congestion, and then decide after seeing the syllabus whether to take the class.  Earlier notice would also enable students to save money by buying used books, instead of having to pay high prices at the Columbia Bookstore.   

In response to another question from Sen. Pritchett, Sen. Freeland said the lack of online and early course information was a frequent problem for students.

Sen. Pollack said some professors, like himself, teach without a text book, instead downloading PDFs of new articles.  It would be impossible to put those up in advance.  He added that public posting of such articles would not be allowed, as an infringement of copyright.

Sen. O’Halloran agreed that such posting would not be permitted. 

Sen. Pollack added that such a limit would restrict the ability to move beyond CourseWorks—or a system like it—to a public presentation of course materials.

Provost Alan Brinkley distinguished two motives for the resolution:  the law, which requires courses to post books that students are expected to buy, and the desire of students to have access to course material.  Under these conditions, the law would not require Sen. Pollack to post his reading list of articles. 

Sen. Freeland said the question of saving money on book purchases would apply mainly to textbooks. There is no cost involving in downloading PDF files.  The other purpose of the resolution—enabling students to know what the course is about—would be served by, for example, having online course descriptions.

Sen. James Neal (Admin.), University Librarian, said he understood the law to cover books and all other reading materials, required or suggested.  He said a large percentage of materials used by the faculty in their classes are either placed physically on reserve in the libraries or are made accessible electronically through CourseWorks.  The Libraries has licensing arrangements for 120,000 electronic journals on behalf of Columbia faculty and students, and some 4.7 million electronic books.  The goal is to make as much of this content available to students as possible in their classrooms. so they don’t have to buy it.  Sen. Neal said the Libraries have volunteered to work with the provost’s office on this problem when the new law comes into play in July 2010. 

Sen. Neal said it’s not the actual content that must be made public, but the list of reading materials—the bibliography, in a sense.

Sen. Carol Lin (NT, A&S/NS) asked for a clarification of the requirement that the posting be two weeks in advance.

Sen. Freeland understood that professors would need that amount of time to get textbook information to book stores in time to receive the books by the start of the term.

Sen. Applegate said the legal issue is to make sure students have sufficient notice of books they are required to buy.  They don’t need references to journal articles as long as they have some kind of access to them.

The president asked whether the resolution should be referred for more work or whether a version was ready for Senate action.

Sen. Cheema read aloud a resolved clause with handwritten revisions supplied by Sen. O’Halloran: “Therefore be it resolved that schools ask professors post course descriptions and information about text books and other required reading in appropriate sites on line, where appropriate, at least two weeks before classes begin.”

President Bollinger understood the resolution to be asking departments to ask faculty to do their best to try to accommodate student interests in being able to get the best price for books and to prepare for classes. 

The Senate then adopted the amended resolution by voice vote, without dissent. 

More committee reports.
Student Caucus. Co-chair Amena Cheema (Stu., Arts) read the committee’s annual report, which had been distributed:  

More new business:
Resolution to Honor Paul Duby for his Senate Service.  The staff member read the resolution aloud, to applause.  He invited other senators to say something about Sen. Duby at a reception right after the plenary.          

The president offered to speak on behalf of all the 20th-century administrations that Sen. Duby had worked with.  He said he had had the pleasure to work with Sen. Duby for seven years.  He and Provost Brinkley had attended many Executive Committee meetings and plenaries.  He said the Sen. Duby’s defining quality was true, unaffected, uncomplicated devotion to the University Senate and to making sure that it functions according to its responsibilities and its authority in the university.  He said one might think that to serve for 22 years as chair of the Columbia Senate would require all the skills of a Machiavelli.  One might expect that there was no way other than by banishments and beheadings to continue as chair for that many years. But Sen. Duby had been exactly the opposite, with a purity of heart and motive that was quite remarkable.  On behalf of all present, he expressed appreciation for Sen. Duby’s service and admiration for how he had conducted it. 

Sen. O’Halloran added, as Sen. Duby’s co-chair for the past two years, that she had a wonderful time working with him. She praised his even temperament, and his ability to maintain it through the most passionate discussions, which had served the Senate well.  There was more applause.

Sen. Duby thanked everyone in the room, as well as all past senators. He recalled that when he had been asked to serve on the Senate, he had expected to complete his duty in a single term.  But then he became involved in issues that mattered to him, including the patents policy and faculty fringe benefits.  So he kept serving, one term at a time.  He met many people—faculty, students, members other constituencies—who enabled him to understand much better the greatness of this university.  He said he thought the Senate’s founding fathers did a great job, partly because the Senate included not only faculty, as at many other universities, but also students, librarians, staff members, and more recently research officers, a group whose expanded participation had certainly improved the Senate.  He said one important change had been an increase in interaction and dialogue among the Senate, the administration, and the Trustees.  He said this was how the Senate should function, with all groups pulling in the same direction.  What makes the Senate great, he said, is the people serving on it, past and present. 

Sen. Duby thanked Senate manager Tom Mathewson for his service, as well as staff officers Justine Blau and Jessica Raimi. He also thanked Sen. O’Halloran for their time together as Executive Committee co-chairs.  There was more applause. 

President Bollinger adjourned the meeting at around 2:30 pm.

Respectfully submitted,

 

Tom Mathewson, Senate staff