University Senate                                                                                 

Proposed:  February 6, 2009

Adopted: February 6, 2009


President Lee Bollinger, the chairman, called the Senate to order shortly after 1:15 pm in 106 Jerome Greene Hall. Fifty of 92 senators were present.

Minutes and agenda.  The minutes of November 20 and the agenda were adopted as proposed.

President’s report. [The first few minutes of the president’s remarks were not recorded]. The president said that Columbia’s endowment has sustained losses that are significant, but not as large as the 22 percent drop that Harvard had announced the day before. He said the university must prepare for a range of outcomes of the current economic crisis. Columbia is a very decentralized institution, and each department or school has to figure out its own budgetary response.  He said Provost Alan Brinkley and EVP for Finance Anne Sullivan were discussing these possibilities with deans.  The president concluded that Columbia’s difficulties reflect those of the entire country.

Sen. Monica Quaintance (Stu., CC) asked if the president meant that Columbia had lost less than Harvard in percentage terms or in absolute dollars. She noted, to laughter, that 22 percent of Harvard’s endowment is $8 billion, or more than Columbia’s entire endowment.

The president said he was speaking only in percentage terms.

Sen. Michael Adler (Ten., Bus.), speaking as a Harvard alumnus and a Columbia professor, expressed outrage at the boards of both institutions for losing the perspective of the trustee, which is the preservation of capital. He said there are investment techniques, including various types of portfolio insurance, that could have saved Columbia a lot of stress.  His own sense was that the trustees took their eye off the ball.

The president responded that Columbia accomplished a quasi-separation of the management of the endowment from that of the university in 2002, by setting up what’s called a 501(c)(3) organization, with professional managers and its own board.  The board has some Columbia trustees and a few administrators, including the president, but it is essentially under professional management.  In his view and that of the trustees, this was a very wise approach.

The president said the experience of endowments and other investment funds during September and October—especially October—was a very great surprise.  In the depths of the global slowdown and the recession in the United States, there are some people who have made money; most probably have lost money.  This is not in any sense outside the norm.  The question is, How much have you lost? The president’s hunch was that Columbia was faring relatively well. 

The president said for the record that he personally and in his role as president did not think that there was any lack of proper management in the running of the endowment. 

Sen. Daniel Savin (Research Officers) followed up on a question he had asked at the previous meeting about noise from the construction of the interdisciplinary science building on the northwest corner of the Morningside campus. He said the president had said he would talk with the appropriate administrators about this issue.

The president acknowledged, to laughter, that he had agreed to do that but had no report.  He asked Sen. Savin to send him an email reminder about this.

Sen. Adler wanted to ask another question, but the president had already announced the next item on the agenda.  Executive Committee co-chair Paul Duby suggested resuming questions for the president after the next item.

Report from Kenneth Crews of the Libraries on implications of the open access movement.
Mr. Crews promised to keep his comments brief because he would have to move on soon to his next presentation—to the Arts and Sciences faculty on copyright issues.  He proposed to introduce himself, the copyright advisory office he directed, and his efforts to advance a 2005 Senate resolution endorsing open access to scholarly publications.

Mr. Crews said he had come to Columbia about a year ago from Indiana University, where he had been a law professor.  He said the Columbia copyright advisory office is based in the university libraries, but is meant to serve the entire university by addressing copyright issues that are important to teaching, research and community service work.  Those issues include fair use and other appropriate uses of other people’s copyrighted work, as well as questions of ownership and the university’s stewardship of the intellectual property created here.

One of the beauties of copyright law, Mr. Crews said, is its flexibility.  It enables us to identify choices and to exploit them. It also means we have to pay attention, and sometimes do a little bit of work.

Part of the payoff comes from the open access initiative. Mr. Crews said.  One of the givens of copyright law is that nearly everything we can see, read, watch, hear, listen to, or observe is probably protected by copyright, including products ranging from books and websites and software to the fabric of clothing designs.  The goal of the open access movement is to remind each of us as creators of copyright-protected works that we have choices—about how we hold and exercise those rights, and in the context of scholarship, about how we enter into contracts, particularly with publishers, to manage our copyrights. Who holds the copyright?  The author?  The publisher? Somebody else? 

The open access initiative seeks ways to share copyright. The Senate in spring 2005 adopted a resolution endorsing this concept, which would make scholarly works widely accessible, without restrictions.  It emerged partly because of the availability of electronic access, and in response to the restrictions that copyright owners, particularly publishers, have imposed on the ability of people to find and use the work that we create. 
In his efforts to promote open access, he had started to work with others in the library and around the university, holding a series of discussion meetings with different departments and addressing the questions and concerns of individual faculty members. 

Mr. Crews mentioned two significant developments in 2008.  One was the decision of Harvard’s A&S faculty in February to require open access through the deposit of scholarly, peer-reviewed, published articles with the institutional repository to assure full, worldwide, public access to those materials.  The other was the enactment by Congress of procedures at the National Institutes of Health to require open access through Pub Med Central of peer-reviewed publications that arise from NIH funding. 

Sen. Catharine Nepomnyashchy (Fac., Barn) asked how open access provisions would affect scholarly journals that have a specific contracts with say, JSTOR, requiring delay of publication.

Mr. Crews said none of the arrangements he had described was meant to change any provisions that are in place now.  In other words, a faculty author continue to work with the same publisher, who can continue to sell subscriptions.  The publisher will continue to be able to work with JSTOR?  But will open access lead to the death of peer review and to allowing any kind of junk on the internet?  Mr. Crews’s reply was an emphatic no.  Open access would mean the addition of a new possibility—putting a copy of an article in an institutional or discipline-based repository, and making it widely available. 

Sen. Ron Prywes (Ten., A&S/NS) expressed puzzlement about the finances of open access. He said some open access journals charge a significant amount to publish an article--$1300, in one case.  So the costs are shifted onto the individual scholar.  Would Columbia allow scholars to publish at some type of bulk rate?  He said the movement seemed to be getting involved in the business of publishing, replacing a journal like Nature with something like the Public Library of Science. He wasn’t convinced that leaving private publishing was really best for most people.

Mr. Crews said Sen. Prywes had raised important points.  He said he would never discourage anyone who wanted to publish in Nature.  His advice would be to seek additional terms in the agreement so that authors can continue to use a copy of their own work for deposit in an institutional repository, and reach a wider audience.

Mr. Crews was troubled by the idea of having to pay for the benefit of having open access through the journal.  He said some universities and funding sources have offered to pay those costs.  His own priority was to make sure authors hang on to the right to use their own work in their own scholarship and teaching as they see fit, whether they support the repository or not.

Sen. Savin asked how open access would work if he were to publish an article in, say, Physical Review, a subscription journal from the American Physical Society.

Mr. Crews said Sen. Savin’s ability to arrange for open access to his article would depend on the terms of his agreement with Physical Review.  If he were to transfer copyright to the journal, he would retain no rights in the work.  If he wanted to hand out copies of the article in class, he would have to struggle with the limits of fair use; if he wanted to turn that article into a book chapter, he would have to talk to Physical Review. The article would no longer be his. 

Mr. Crews urged authors to be very careful of what they sign, and to retain their rights, including the right to deposit a copy with the Columbia repository so the whole world could see the article at no cost. 

In response to another question from Sen. Savin, Mr. Crews said instructions for assuring open access in a publishing agreement are available at  He also mentioned Columbia’s scholarly communication website, and said there are also lists of author-friendly journals. 

To applause, the president thanked Mr. Crews for his presentation.

Senators still had questions for the president, but he declined to return to his report and called for the next agenda item.

Executive Committee co-chairs’ report
ROTC. Sen. Duby said the Executive Committee had discussed the results of the recent student survey on ROTC, concluding that conditions have not changed sufficiently to require further Senate deliberations at this point. He said the Senate could change its mind in six months or a year.  He said the main issue remained the continuing ban against homosexuals in the military, although there were also some academic issues, which he thought could probably be resolved.  But he said the basic situation remained the same as in 2005, when the Senate voted strongly against bringing back ROTC.  For the time being, Sen. Duby said, the university would continue to help students who are interested in off-campus ROTC programs. He said the Executive Committee would continue to listen to the student caucus and see whether it wants more discussion in the senate. 

Sen. Savin asked how many students have actively sought to participate in NROTC programs.
Do the numbers justify the effort?

Sen. Rajat Roy (Stu., SEAS)said there is student interest.  More than 20 Columbia students are pursuing a related program, Officers Candidate School (OCS), which, unlike ROTC, offers no tuition scholarship.  He agreed with the Executive Committee’s determination that there had been no change in national policy yet (though there was a new president), and its decision to postpone reconsideration of ROTC. 

            Conflict of interest policy. Executive Committee co-chair Sharyn O’Halloran (Ten., SIPA) said the review process for the proposed policy was continuing. Naomi Schrag, the associate vice president for compliance who would be presenting the policy to the Senate, had met with the Dept. of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research on December 4, and would be meeting with SEAS department chairs on December 8, as well as any other schools or departments with concerns about the policy.  The ad hoc Senate committee reviewing the policy would then go over these comments to see what amendments the draft policy needs.  Sen. O’Halloran said she and Sen. Samuel Silverstein (Ten., P&S) would meet with Ms. Schrag and EVP for Research David Hirsh on December 8.  She saw the review as a collaborative process culminating in a policy everyone would be comfortable with. 

            Financial aid.  Sen. O’Halloran said the Executive Committee had also discussed financial aid, which also came up in the Budget Review Committee’s meeting earlier in the day with Jeffrey Scott, EVP for Student and Administrative Services.  She would meet again with Mr. Scott to consider other funding options, including guarantees of different types of loans and some promising insurance instruments.  Sen. O’Halloran invited comments on this issue. 

Student Affairs.  Co-chairs Amena Cheema (Arts) and Genevieve Thornton (Bus.) read a statement of intent for the 2008-09 Senate session, which had been distributed in the packet.  

            Housing policy.  Co-chairs Craig Schwalbe (NT, SW) and Paige Lampkin (Stu., GS) presented the three main points from a written report that had been distributed at the door.
New policy on retirees in Columbia housing.  Sen. Schwalbe said the committee had extensively discussed the new policy, which clarifies and narrows the definition of the group of Columbia tenants eligible to remain in Columbia housing after retirement.  The committee was sensitive to the difficulty of the situation the university faces—a growing population of retirees at a time when the university urgently needs apartments to recruit and retain faculty. 

Sen. Schwalbe said the committee was concerned that the new policy statement was contrary to the understanding of at least several faculty members, who had based their retirement planning on the assumption that they could remain in Columbia housing.  The new statement makes clear that they are not eligible to stay.

Sen. Schwalbe said the committee was continuing to monitor this situation.

Sen. Lampkin then read aloud the second and third sections of the report, on housing for GS students, and on the committee’s February 2008 resolution calling for a policy on the relation of rental income to capital expenditures.

Sen. Roy recalled the discussion at the September plenary of the status of librarians, who will all have to give up their Columbia housing after retirement.  He asked what steps were being taken to address this problem.

Sen. Schwalbe said the committee had not addressed the librarians’ concerns.  He invited the senators from the libraries to talk to the committee.

Old business.
Resolution to Limit Standing Committee Chairmanships to Two per Person (Structure and Operations).  President Bollinger said that in the absence of a three-fifths majority of incumbent senators, no action would be possible on the resolution.

Sen. O’Halloran said that given the difficulty of taking action on this resolution over the past few meetings, it should be remanded to Structure and Operations, to consider whether a by-law amendment is the right approach or whether the Senate should adopt a rule for this purpose. 

Howard Jacobson, the Senate parliamentarian and a member of Structure and Operations, asked if that was what the Executive Committee wanted to do.  Sen. Duby said the Executive Committee would take a look at it.

Mr. Jacobson said the fact that there hadn’t been enough senators present for a super-majority to pass the proposed by-laws amendment was not a reason to remand it. He said the committee had discussed the proposal at great length, and reached a compromise among several different points of view about exactly what the limitation should be, and it was felt very strongly it should be a by-law amendment.  He hoped that a sufficient number of senators would show up at the first plenary of the spring semester.  He said the Senate had missed the three-fifths threshold by two or three at a couple of meetings. The Senate was six short of three-fifths at the present meeting, an odd time of the semester for a plenary.

Sen. O’Halloran said the Executive Committee would take up the issue, and would consult with Structure and Operations.

Sen. Savin said this was a general question about proposals requiring super-majorities.  Why should the proposal be remanded to the committee for a lack of attendance?

Sen. O’Halloran said there would just be a conversation about this in the Executive Committee.

The president adjourned the meeting at around 2:10 pm.

Respectfully submitted,


Tom Mathewson
Senate staff