University Senate                                                                     

Proposed: March 5, 2010




Executive Committee chair Sharyn O’Halloran (Ten., SIPA), standing in for President Lee Bollinger, called the Senate to order at 1:20 pm in 106 Jerome Greene Hall. Fifty-five of 97 senators were present during the meeting.

Minutes and agenda.  The minutes of December 4, 2009, and the agenda were adopted as proposed, by voice vote.

President’s report.  Sen. O’Halloran said the president was unfortunately unable to attend the meeting.  There had been an honest miscommunication about scheduling.  The president had offered an alternative date, but after speaking with several people, Sen. O’Halloran had decided that because of the short notice and the importance of business on the agenda, the meeting should go forward as planned.  She said the president’s attendance for the semester’s three remaining plenaries had been reconfirmed. 

Sen. O’Halloran proceeded to offer updates on one usual subject of the president’s remarks—the University’s budget and financial condition—based on publicly available information.  She repeated the publicly known figure of 16 percent for the decline in the value of Columbia’s endowment during the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2009, and reminded senators that this performance was fairly good compared to those of most of Columbia’s peers.  She said the University’s leaders felt comfortable that the endowment was being prudently and well managed.  From her own vantage point, she shared the sense that the University’s finances were in relatively good shape. 

Turning to the budget, Sen. O’Halloran said the planning for FY 2011 now under way envisioned a further reduction in the contribution of endowment income to operating budgets across the University.  The decrease currently contemplated was less severe than the 8 percent reduction applied last year.  Sen. O’Halloran said the University was not flush, but also was not completely in the abyss.  Managing the current constraints would be the business at hand in most units and departments.

Executive Committee chair’s report.
              Smoking policy.  Sen. O’Halloran said a group had submitted recommendations on Columbia’s smoking policies to Scott Wright, Vice President, Student and Administrative Services.  VP Wright would be forwarding these recommendations to the Senate External Relations Committee for discussion in March.  That committee would then deliberate on the recommendations, perhaps holding hearings, and might present a set of resolutions to the full Senate this spring.
Update from Structure and Operations.  S&O chair Monica Quaintance (Stu., CC) said the committee would be discussing a new draft of the confidentiality guidelines after the present meeting, and was still inviting comments from other senators.  She hoped the measure might be on the Senate agenda in February.  Sen. O’Halloran looked forward to further S&O discussion involving Sen. Letty Moss-Salentijn (Ten., CDM).

             Google Calendar.  Sen. O’Halloran was pleased to announce that the Senate now used the Google calendar, which could be synched with senators’ own calendars.  Next steps toward transparency in Senate deliberations might include wider sharing of some committee documents, including agendas.

            Working group on benefits.  Sen. O’Halloran said she had spoken with EVP for Finance Ann Sullivan, Senior EVP Robert Kasdin, and Provost Claude Steele about bringing together different conversations about benefits currently taking place throughout the University and in Senate committees into a working group.  The idea was to think constructively about the different pressures on the fringe pool.  One goal was to figure out how there can be more consultation about decisions on costs and benefits and allocations.  There would also be a comparative study of peer institutions to see what they were doing about benefits.  Sen. O’Halloran said Nancy Johnson in Ann Sullivan’s office would be leading the study and providing some benchmarks, to enable the group to take a hard look at current pressures on the benefits pool and propose some possible ways forward. 

           Funding for Senate elections.  Sen. O’Halloran said the provost had agreed to provide funding for a new elections software package that was already in use in Columbia College and SEAS elections.  She hoped that spring elections, to be launched in mid-March, would consolidate organizational gains the Senate had made this year.  Elections would now be on more regular schedules and easier for the staff to administer.  The new software would be used for elections normally run by the Senate office, including those for Arts and Sciences faculty, and then might be offered for other units as well.  Sen. O’Halloran thanked the provost for helping to fund this effort.  She said he would also appeal to faculty to participate in Senate elections.

            Follow-up on Senate resolution to publish course syllabi online. Sen. Valentine Edgar (Stu., GSAS/Hum) mentioned the resolution adopted by the Senate the previous spring, calling on professors to put their course syllabi online two weeks before the start of classes.  She said this goal had not been reached, and she invited comment.

Sen. O’Halloran said progress was being made toward that goal.  Faculty were now required to put their book orders online ahead of time, which would enable students to price the books in advance.  She said EVP for Information Technology Candace Fleming was working with the provost’s office to implement this initiative.  She said more and more faculty would comply with this reasonable request from students for information about their courses.  Sen. O’Halloran said there would never be 100 percent compliance, but there could be progress toward that end. 

            Columbia's grade on an environmental report card.  Sen. Rajat Roy (Stu., SEAS) said that two years earlier Columbia and many other universities started receiving sustainability report cards from a non-profit organization.  Columbia’s first grade, an A-minus, was among the best overall and in the Ivy League.  But this year Columbia had dropped down to a B.  Sen. Roy wondered what could have changed so much in a year. 

Sen. O’Halloran said Scott Wright, VP for Student and Administrative Services, would be the person to address sustainability issues involving students.  She offered to contact Mr. Wright. Sen. Roy said SEAS Associate Dean Jack McGourty had provided information on this issue, and might be the right person.

             Election of a new student representative to the Executive Committe. Sen. Andreas Svedin, Student Caucus chair, said the caucus had nominated Sen. Tao Tan (Bus.) to the Executive Committee, to replace Sen. Yael Fischer (Law), who had stepped down. 

By voice vote without dissent, the Senate then elected Sen. Tan to the Executive Committee.

Sen. Ronald Bayer (Ten., PH) objected in principle to conducting votes for new senators in the plenary that people at the meeting understand nothing about. 

Sen. O’Halloran explained that a list of new appointments to committees is normally distributed before Senate meetings, but the Student Caucus had nominated Sen. Tan at a meeting just before the present meeting, and there hadn’t been time to circulate the nomination. 

Sen. Daniel Savin (Research Officers) offered the additional clarification that the students were not electing a new senator, but nominating a current senator to the Executive Committee, an act requiring ratification in a vote of the full Senate. 

            More on compliance with the Senate resolution on online syllabi. Sen. Jose Robledo (Stu., GS) asked for clarification of Sen. O’Halloran’s statement that there probably wouldn’t be 100 percent compliance with the resolution to put syllabi online before the start of classes.

Sen. O’Halloran said she meant that 100 percent compliance would not be possible immediately.  But as faculty become more familiar with Courseworks, the rate of compliance would approach that goal.  She said new laws requiring the pricing of textbooks online would also raise the compliance rate.  But 100 percent compliance was beyond reach.

Sen. Robledo asked why a Senate resolution would not have 100 percent compliance eventually—in 10 years, say. 

Sen. O’Halloran repeated that 100 percent compliance remained a possibility, but would not occur immediately.  Compliance would increase over time.

            More on shared documents.  Sen. Mona Diab (Research Officers) asked for more details about arrangements to share documents among committees.

Sen. O’Halloran said the idea might be something like a Google shared documents arrangement.  Current thinking was to share committee agendas, but committees could set up work spaces on Google, restricting access to members.  She said the staff would work with the committees on this project, which would also reduce paperwork.

Sen. Diab expressed concern about using as public a venue as Google for such a project.  She hoped the IT committee would consider the question of the most appropriate platform for sharing documents.  Sen. O’Halloran enthusiastically welcomed this idea. 

               IT Committee survey.  IT Committee chair Julia Hirschberg (Ten., SEAS) said her group would soon survey the entire Columbia community about how they access documents.  A paradigm shift was underway, and the survey hoped to measure current usage patterns for new phones and e-readers, and current requirements for document processing.  An incentive to respond would be a $50 Amazon gift certificate for some lucky person.  A key goal for this exercise, in a university that had used 157 million sheets of paper in the previous year, was to achieve gains in sustainability and conservation.  But another was to enable Columbia to be a leader in this paradigm shift, and not a straggler.

Sen. O’Halloran thanked the IT Committee for its work, which she thought would provide a reliable gauge of the feasibility of moving to more electronic formats and the eventual demand. It would also help the University negotiate effectively with technology providers. 

Sen. Roy, returning to the issue of 100 percent compliance with the requirement to post syllabi online, asked what the consequences would be for Columbia if its faculty  did not comply with a Congressional mandate to post textbook prices online.

Sen. O’Halloran understood that there would be some consequences.  Most likely the University would work to make it easier for faculty to post this information.  She said questions of enforcement should be addressed to the provost.

                Assorted comments from Sen. James Neal (Admin.).  Sen. Neal, the University Librarian, said the Libraries had a great deal of information on types of electronic devices and on downloading. He offered this information to the IT committee.  Sen. Hirschberg said her committee hoped to discuss this at a joint meeting with the Libraries and Education committees on February 12.

On a separate matter, Sen. Neal said 95 percent of Columbia courses that assign readings are already on Courseworks.  So the issue was not the comfort level of faculty with Courseworks, but compliance.  He said Columbia had a rigorous course reserve system, administered through the Libraries, which receive from faculty all the information about required readings for the courses. He said this information would be useful to EVP for IT Candace Fleming and Provost Steele as they addressed this issue.

Sen. O’Halloran said she would make sure the provost would touch base with Sen. Neal in the effort to get the last 5 percent of courses online.  She said the level of compliance was high, and most faculty understood student concerns pretty well.

Referring to the new working group on benefits, Sen. Neal said he had communicated to Human Resources and the provost over the years about the question of how the University’s contributions to pension plans are administered.  There was a link between tenure at Columbia and the percentage of salary contributed by the University to pension plans.  Sen. Neal said he had conducted a study some years earlier of 100 universities in North America, which found that Columbia was totally out of sync with policies at other institutions, where length of service was unbundled from contributions to an individual’s pension plan.  This disparity had a tremendous impact on recruitment and retention, Sen. Neal said.

Sen. O’Halloran said information on benefits like pension contributions at peer institutions would be particularly valuable to the new working group on benefits.

Student caucus chair Andreas Svedin (Stu., GSAS/NS)  thanked Sen. Yael Fischer (Stu., Law) for her service on the Executive Committee.  He also noted that the student caucus was using the Sakai pilot program (the platform that would succeed Courseworks at Columbia), which offered a good venue for sharing documents.  Finally, he said the questions raised at the December plenary about large increases in medical premiums affected students as well as employees; he suggested that students should be involved in the working group on benefits.

                More on the working group on benefits.  Sen. O’Halloran said that the first step for the working group would be to compare Columbia’s benefits program to those of its peers.  Before it could make recommendations, the group would also have to understand whether this year’s increases were just a one-time leap or part of a long-term demographic shift requiring a more pro-active response.  This effort would proceed in collaboration with the offices of the provost, Robert Kasdin, and Ann Sullivan.

Sen. O’Halloran said a number of Senate groups were already interested in benefits issues.  Faculty Affairs was focused on retiree health benefits.  Budget Review had spoken with EVP for Finance Ann Sullivan about types of tradeoffs involving the fringe pool.  The Commission on the Status of Women was concerned about effects of allocations of fringe pool funds that might discriminate against female employees.  She also mentioned Research Officers and the Administrative Staff as constituencies with a clear stake in benefits issues.  From these interests, she said, it would be appropriate to develop a cross-cutting working group.

                 Student petition on the academic calendar.   Sen. O’Halloran said a student petition about the academic calendar had been submitted to the Senate for the present meeting. She said this was a standard procedure: the petition would be presented, discussed, then referred to the appropriate committee for further consideration. 

Sen. Svedin said the petition had more than 1600 student signatures.  He said the key complaint was that the fall term in some years ends very late (on December 23 in 2009), making it difficult   for many to get home by Christmas, particularly those who have to take or grade the last exams or travel far.  But ending the term earlier would require some difficult choices: Should the fall semester start before Labor Day? Should one or both Election Day holidays be eliminated?  Sen. Svedin said the student caucus had discussed these options, but did not want to interfere with the work of the Education Committee, which is responsible for the academic calendar.

Sen. James Applegate (Ten., A&S/NS), co-chair of Education, said the committee had faced similar issues several times in recent years.  He said Labor Day falls late a couple of times every seven years, and the options are straightforward.  One option Columbia does not have is to shorten the fall semester, which New York State would not allow. But the University could start before Labor Day, have final exams in January, remove one or both of the Election Day holidays, or simply live with the current situation.  He said Education would discuss this problem over the course of the semester.

              Midday prayers for observant Muslims. Sen. Daniel Savin (Researcher Officers) said that devout Muslim men who were University senators were unable to attend plenary meetings because they conflict with midday Friday prayers.  Sen. Savin asked what Senate committee should address the problem of reconciling Senate participation and religious observances for these people.

Sen. O’Halloran thought the Executive Committee and the president’s office should work together to seek a scheduling solution to the problem.

Sen. Edward Mendelson (Ten., A&S/Hum) said he was too new in the Senate to recognize references to fellow senators by their first names in the present discussion.

Sen. O’Halloran apologized, and asked all senators to identify themselves when they spoke.

              More on the academic calendar.  Sen. Gerald Sherwin (Alum.) asked by when changes had to be included in the academic calendar.

Sen. O’Halloran said Education would consider the issues raised in the petition in a timely way, relative to its other agenda items. 

Sen. Moss-Salentijn, the other Education Committee co-chair, said the registrar proposes the academic calendar, taking into consideration all of the constraints in a particular semester.  That draft was what students were responding to. She said her committee was sensitive to those concerns, but it was also between a rock and a hard place.  It would complete its review of the proposed calendar as soon as possible.
Sen. Ronald Breslow (Ten., A&S/NS) said students in his course decided they couldn’t stand taking the exam on December 23, and chose to take it during reading period.  He said one solution that hadn’t been mentioned, but which required thought, was simply getting rid of the reading period.  He said that some solution was necessary, and if students were perfectly happy to have an exam during their reading period, perhaps that was a luxury Columbia couldn't afford.

Sen. Breslow said the reason for the two-day Election Day holiday was the concern during the distant days of the Vietnam War that students would be drafted and sent off to war, so there was an understanding that they would go home and work for the election of anti-war candidates.  He said the results of this decision were minimal, and perhaps it was now time to dispense with this holiday.

Sen. Monica Quaintance (Stu., CC) noted that one obstacle to starting classes before Labor Day was faculty concern about child care before their children start school. Did Columbia have the resources to start some kind of childcare program?

Sen. O’Halloran said the Commission on the Status of Women had studied this issue at length, and would be happy to explain some of the challenges involved.

Sen. Andrew Springer (Stu., Journalism) asked the co-chairs of Education what the likelihood of ending the term earlier would be.

Sen. Applegate said this issue arises every few years, and has no solution, only a compromise. The situation was highly constrained, because it was not possible to shorten the fall semester, and starting before Labor Day was an unattractive option for some, especially families with small children.  Having final exams in January would be generally unpopular with students.  Election Day holidays could be eliminated.  Or Columbia could continue to do what it was doing.  The most important thing to do first was to discuss the issues as widely as possible, because the problem would have an impact on everyone—students, faculty, and administrators.  Sen. Applegate said he had opinions, but did not want to bias the discussion by offering probabilities or odds on specific outcomes.

Sen. Springer agreed that it would be important to include as many voices in this discussion as possible, including those of the 1600 students who had signed the petition. He noted the point in the letter accompanying the petition that several peer institutions don't have the same calendar dilemmas that Columbia does.

Committee reports.
                  Reapportionment report and recommendations (Elections Commission). Benjamin Brickner (Stu., Nonsen., Law), chair of the Elections Commission, presented the report, which had been distributed.  He said that every five years the Senate reapportions 81 of its 107           seats: these are the 42 seats designated for tenured faculty, the 15 designated nontenured seats, and the 24 student seats. 

Mr. Brickner said the University Statutes are quite specific about whom to count, so the Commission simply updated its population figures using information provided by the provost’s office.  The current draft was the Commission’s best suggestion as to how those 81 seats should be reapportioned.  Specifically the Commission was recommending five one-seat changes, four of them in the tenured constituency: the Faculties of Medicine and Public Health would gain one seat each, and the Natural Sciences division of the Arts and Sciences and the Faculty of Law losing one seat each.

In addition, Mr. Brickner said, the Commission also determined that there are 16 faculties eligible for nontenured representation, but the Statutes only specify 15.  So the commission was recommending the addition of a seat for the Faculty of Continuing Education, a change that would require a Statutory amendment. 

Sen. Soulaymane Kachani (NT, SEAS) asked if there was any room for interpretation of the rules, particularly concerning the tenured Law School seat. 

Mr. Brickner said there probably was room for interpretation.  He said the Commission had accepted the information from the provost’s office as factually correct, and then determined what method to use to apportion the seats, a task that was not as simple as it appeared.  The Commission considered three different counting methods, which were presented side by side in Appendix A-2.  The most intuitive approach, called the Largest Remainder method, would divide the population by the number of the seats, and the faculties with the highest remainders would get the next available seats in descending order until all seats are allocated. 

Mr. Brickner referred to the second method, which the Senate had used for the last reapportionment in 2005, as Modified Rounding. It was similar to Largest Remainder, but limited the number of seats allotted to the largest constituency, the Faculty of Medicine.  The Commission had rejected this method simply because it allocated seats based on factors unrelated to population. 

The Commission preferred a third approach, the Method of Equal Proportions, even though Mr. Brickner said it was a bit more complicated and less intuitive.  This method equalizes the representation across all the groups, so that the groups have as close to the same number of constituent members per senator as possible.  Mr. Brickner said the only interpretation under which the Faculty of Law would retain its third tenured seat was the Modified Rounding that the senate did in 2005.  The other two methods both would have the Faculty of Law lose one seat.  Mr. Brickner concluded that there was discretion about counting methods, but the arbitrariness of the Modified Rounding method had led the Commission to reject it.

Sen. Kachani asked if the number of seats could be increased.  Could a seat be added to enable the Law School to retain its third seat?

Mr. Brickner said the number of seats was specified by the statutes.  Under the Method of Equal Proportions, the total number of tenured seats would actually have to be increased by two to assure a third seat for Law.  He said Medicine would actually be in line for the next before Law. To change the total allocation of seats would require amending the Statutes.

Sen. Breslow said the faculties of Medicine and Dentistry both included people with “tenure of title.”  Were people in this category counted among the tenured for purposes of reapportionment? Mr. Brickner said they were.

Sen. Breslow expressed skepticism about this decision, and wondered whether this accounted partly for the large representation in the Faculty of Medicine. He said no other faculties have tenured titles like this. Should other parts of the University lose representation as a result? 

Dr. Jennifer Bell, a member of the Elections Commission and former senator from the medical faculty, said the Commission had looked into this question some time ago.  She said people with tenure of title are tenured at the University; they are just not salaried by the University. 

Mr. Brickner added that the critical distinction for the Commission was that the Statutes define the constituency in question as faculty “without stated term,” and people with tenure of title fit that definition.

Sen. Breslow said he had looked into the position of the American Association of University Professors on this question, and had found that people with tenure of title were not entitled to salary. So they were really not equivalent.

Dr. Bell explained that they were salaried by the hospitals involved, not by the University, but their title was guaranteed by the University. They might not be paid, but they could not be fired.

Sen. Roy said that he and his fellow student senator from SEAS, Cherie Meyer, represent about 1500 students, but some student senators represent constituencies as small as 300.  He said this disparity gives his constituents a much smaller voice in the Senate.  He said he understood that the Statutory formula for apportionment of student seats awards at least one student seat to each school, three to the most populous school—Columbia College, and any extra seats to the next most populous schools, which were now Business and Engineering.  He suggested the formula might be archaic, because it does not account for the growth of the student population over the years.  He estimated that the Engineering student population had grown 10 percent in the previous five years, which might result in inadequate representation.

Sen. Jerald Boak (Admin. Staff) said he represented more than 4000 constituents in the administrative staff on Morningside and at Lamont.  He added that his fellow administrative staff senator, Consuelo Mora-McLaughlin from the Medical Center, also represented thousands of constituents.

Sen. Applegate said the Arts and Sciences tenured delegation was split up by the three disciplinary divisions (Natural Sciences, Humanities, Social Sciences).  He said a persistent problem was that some of the A&S seats had been empty for years.  He said the reapportionment report’s recommendation to eliminate a seat in the Natural Sciences made no sense if, as under current conditions, that delegation is full while there are chronic vacancies in the other two.  He said an empty seat represents nothing but a lost opportunity.

Sen. Springer asked if it was true that the Elections Commission had no jurisdiction to enact any of the changes that had been recommended in the last few comments. 

Sen. O’Halloran said that was true.  Some of those recommendations would require Statutory amendments.  But she said it was still appropriate to raise these issues in the present discussion.

Mr. Brickner said the Commission had confined itself to following current rules.  Any changes in those rules must go through another Senate committee.

Sen. Bayer asked when the current Statutes were adopted.  He said that, given concerns raised in the present discussion, the Statutes should perhaps be reconsidered.

Sen. O’Halloran said the pressing current need was to have new reapportionment guidelines in place in time for the spring elections, which would begin in March.  But larger questions of what the appropriate representation of different Senate constituencies should be were important, and should be taken up. 

The Senate secretary, Tom Mathewson, added that the committee responsible for considering amendments to the Senate bylaws, as well as the statutes covering the senate, and any ideas for reforming the structure of the Senate, was Structure and Operations. 

The parliamentarian, Howard Jacobson, said that the Statutes governing the Senate were adopted a number of years earlier, but had been amended many times since.  He said the purpose of the formula for allotting student seats was to assure Senate representation for the student bodies of every school in the University.  He said one alternative would be to have all students get together and elect at-large delegations, but that approach would not be in the interest of most students. 

Sen. O’Halloran thanked Mr. Brickner and the Elections Commission for their work. She asked senators to provide comments before the February plenary when a final version of the report would be presented.

                “Manhattanville and the Future of Academic and Physical Planning at Columbia University” (Task Force on Campus Planning)  Sen. O’Halloran, speaking as co-chair of the Campus Planning Task Force, introduced the report, which was a draft summary of white papers that various committees had produced on Manhattanville.  These contributions included recommendations for ongoing governance of both the physical and the academic planning of the opportunities that Manhattanville poses, both for the new campus and for space that becomes available on Morningside and at the Medical Center. 

She said a key emphasis in the report was on the need for a governance structure allowing input from many levels within the University, not only across departments and schools, but also including affinity groups on particular themes, ranging from transportation, to information technology, work life benefits, and so on.  She asked senators to comment on these governance recommendations, particularly the role of the Senate.

Sen. O’Halloran asked Sen. Ron Prywes (Ten., A&S/NS), chair of Physical Development, to speak about the proposed merger of his committee with the Campus Planning Task Force in the new Committee for Academic and Physical Planning, which might bring together ideas from the affinity groups and pass them on to a blue ribbon panel or to the president and Trustees directly.

Sen. Prywes said one issue Structure and Operations was weighing was how other Senate committees would interact with the new committee. Once launched, the new committee would complete the present report and implement some of its recommendations.  This would require a dialogue with senior administrators, who were not at the present meeting.

Sen. O’Halloran added that the final report would outline a procedure for Requests for Proposals (RFPs) from schools and departments, as well as working groups, about particular spaces.  The procedure would require transparent, two-way feedback about the proposals, with an understanding of how each proposal fits into the larger project, and of why each project is accepted or rejected, with clear criteria for decisions made.  Other issues would be the mandates of affinity groups.  To whom do they report? What is the role of the provost? What is the role of the Senate?  Sen. O’Halloran expected this process to culminate in a set of recommendations and perhaps a resolution for the Senate in the spring. 

Sen. Robledo (Stu., GS) asked if the Senate would vote on the recommendations of the report.

Sen.  O’Halloran said a resolution would more likely acknowledge simply that these were the recommendations without voting them up or down.  The model might be a consensus on the report, without a vote.  But the goal was a set of concrete steps.

Sen. O’Halloran said the proposed merger of two current Senate committees, now under consideration by Structure and Operations, would be pivotal in developing new affinity groups, making recommendations to the administration, and playing an effective oversight role.  So the details of the proposed governance structure would go forward only after the completion of the review in Structure and Operations.

Sen. Robledo asked if the Senate’s main role would be to create the new committee.

Sen. O’Halloran said creating the new committee would be only part of the Senate’s role.  She expected the new affinity groups to have close ties to standing Senate committees. What would that relationship be?  She hoped to have a proposal for a new governance structure emerge from discussion.  Whether that would occur in a vote or in the recommendations of a Senate report, such as the 2006 report on anti-sweatshop strategies like the Designated Suppliers Program, remained to be determined.  Benjamin Totushek, a General Studies student and non-senator who identified himself as a member of the Student Coalition on Expansion and Gentrification, began to speak.

The secretary said non-senators do not normally have speaking privileges in the Senate. Mr. Jacobson, the parliamentarian, said the student could speak if the Senate gave unanimous consent to suspend the rules.  The Senate then voted to give unanimous consent.

Mr. Totushek said he wanted to provide perspective from the community and from students who were opposed to certain aspects of Columbia’s plan to expand into Manhattanville.  He said he had hoped to ask President Bollinger a question.  He noted the recommendation from the External Relations Committee in the Manhattanville report that Columbia “institute a coordinated, university-wide plan to raise community and media awareness of the benefits of the new campus.”  Mr. Totushek said this was an important recommendation, but it must be made honestly.  At the previous plenary on January 29, according to the minutes, President Bollinger had said that Community Board 9 ended up approving Columbia’s expansion plan. Mr. Totushek said this was not true.  He called for transparency and academic honesty in the attempt to raise university and community awareness of the benefits of the plan. 

Mr. Totushek also urged that that community input be taken on space usage in the new campus. 

Sen. O’Halloran  said everyone would agree about the need for honesty, transparency, and open dialogue on Manhattanville.

Sen. Tao Tan (Stu., Bus.) expressed appreciation that students were taking the issue of Manhattanville seriously.  He invited Mr. Totushek to talk to Sen. Springer, who he said would be working on related issues in the Senate.

New business
            --Resolutions to establish four new degree programs in the Business School (Education)
               -- M.S. in Marketing
               -- M.S. in Financial Economics
               -- M.S. in Leadership
               -- M.S. in Accounting and Fundamental Analysis.

Education Committee co-chair Letty Moss-Salentijn presented the four M.S. Programs as a new kind of degree in the Business School, which had previously offered only M.B.A. and Ph.D. programs.  It now had identified the need for a different type of graduate.  Many Ph.D.s go into the private sector, where they direct quantitative and specialized research projects.  Generally the M.B.A.s want to lead the organizations.  The new M.S. graduates would need a higher level of analytical and problem-solving skills than M.B.A.s, but they would be doing directed research.  The exception to this pattern might be the leadership program, which was not particularly research oriented.

Sen. Sheena Iyengar (Ten., Bus.) said her Business School colleague Sen. Frank Lichtenberg was unable to attend the plenary, but he wanted to communicate his support for the four programs.  She said he particularly wanted to convey the idea that the enrollment in the proposed programs would be small, to be sure to avoid any negative impact on current M.B.A. programs. She expressed confidence that the new programs would fill gaps in the curricula for the current degrees in the Business School, providing educational opportunities for individuals who wish to pursue a deeper, more focused course of study and to deploy their technical expertise in careers in consulting or other industries that the typical M.B.A. student does not pursue.  She concluded that Sen. Lichtenberg hoped that his Senate colleagues would approve the four proposals.

Prof. John Donaldson of the Business School, not a senator, said he was prepared to answer questions about the programs.

Sen. Kachani (NT, SEAS) said that in the Engineering School there were initially reservations about one of these programs, the M.S. in financial economics.  But those concerns had been alleviated, and SEAS looked forward to collaborating with the Business School.  It was even collaborating with Business on one of the existing SEAS programs.

Sen. Moss-Salentijn said she was pleased to hear Sen. Kachani’s conclusion.

Sen. Prywes asked which students would the new programs serve, those who already had M.B.A.s, or those who were just coming out of college?

Prof. Donaldson said the M.S. programs were intended as independent tracks, and not for students who already had the M.B.A. The school did envision an eventual joint M.B.A./M.S. degree, but that was not part of the current proposal. 

Sen. Prywes asked why the new programs were thought to provide more expertise than an M.B.A., if they would take less time than an M.B.A.  At least one of the programs would take 18 months, while the M.B.A. was a two-year program.  Would each new program amount to an “M.B.A. Lite”?

Prof. Donaldson said the M.B.A. was a generalist degree, intended for people who were planning to create or manage organizations and who need a good general background in several different disciplines, including finance, accounting, etc.  Each M.S. program was devoted exclusively to one of those topics, so they were much more detailed, with a research focus that the M.B.A. degree did not provide.  M.B.A.s would use the sort of information that graduates of the proposed M.S. programs would provide.

Sen. Prywes asked what the proposals meant by “small” enrollments in the four programs.  Prof. Donaldson said the marketing division envisioned ten people a year; the finance division envisioned starting at five. 

Sen. O'Halloran asked if there was any objection to a single vote for all four programs. There was none.  The Senate then approved the four M.S. programs in a voice vote, with one nay and one abstention.

Other business. At this point Vicky Gholson, a person not affiliated with Columbia who identified herself as from the community, asked to make a statement after the meeting was officially adjourned, so there would not have to be a vote to suspend the roles.

Sen. O’Halloran said it was necessary to respect the rule that plenary meetings are open only to people with Columbia University identification cards.  But she was prepared to adjourn the meeting, and said any who wished to hear Ms. Gholson's statement afterward were free to do so.

Sen. O'Halloran adjourned the meeting at about 2:45 pm.

Respectfully submitted,


Tom Mathewson, Senate staff