University Senate                                                                     

Proposed: March 30, 2012




President Lee Bollinger, the chair, called the meeting to order shortly after 1:15 pm in 107 Jerome Greene Hall. Fifty-two of 101 senators were present during the meeting.

Adoption of the agenda. The resolution to approve the combined M.S./Ph.D. program in Social Work was removed from the agenda because consultations remained to be held with the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. The amended agenda was approved.

Adoption of the minutes. The minutes of February 3 were adopted as proposed.

President’s remarks. The president made no remarks, but offered to take questions. There were none.

Executive Committee chair’s remarks. Sen. Sharyn O’Halloran (Ten., SIPA) said the nontenured caucus had nominated Sen. Soulaymane Kachani (NT, SEAS) to the seat on the Executive Committee had had been left vacant by the recent resignation of Sen. Mark Cohen (NT, Bus.). It remained for the full Senate to ratify this nomination.

The Senate then elected Sen. Kachani to the Executive Committee without dissent.

            --Proposed policy prohibiting consensual romantic or sexual relationships between faculty and students they supervise academically (Commission on the Status of Women).  Susan Rieger, associate provost for equal opportunity and affirmative action, a member of the Commission, and principal author of the proposed policy, said that one of the co-chairs of the Commission would present the proposal formally on March 30.

Ms. Rieger said the term “faculty” was shorthand, and referred to officers of the libraries and of research as well as officers of instruction. She said the proposed policy would not apply to officers of administration and staff, who would need a separate policy.

Ms. Rieger focused in her remarks on the background of the proposed policy. She said it had grown out of a conversation with Provost Alan Brinkley in 2006 on the blurry line separating consensual relationships between students and faculty and sexually harassing ones. She cited a passage from Columbia’s policies on discrimination and harassment: “Consensual relationships between faculty and students may raise claims under these policies.  Where there is a power differential between the parties, these relationships are highly susceptible to being characterized as non-consensual or coercive.”  Ms. Rieger said the Provost Brinkley asked her to look into the matter.
At about the same time, the Commission on the Status of Women began reviewing the current policy, called the Romantic Relationship Advisory Statement. The Commission requested a policy draft from Ms. Rieger, who received valuable advice from law professor Carol Sanger.  Over the next three years, the Commission looked at other universities’ policies and met with stakeholders such as the ombuds officer and the head of psychological services. It revised its policy draft many times.

After it had drawn up a policy based on the educational mission of the university and the professionalism of its faculty, the Commission sought the input of the provost, the vice provost for academic planning, the university librarian, the executive vice president for research, and the Faculty Affairs, Student Affairs, and Research Officers committees of the Senate. There would be more consultations before the next plenary.  

Sen. O’Halloran said Faculty Affairs had co-sponsored the policy.  Sen. Alex Frouman (Stu., CC) said the Student Affairs Committee, which he co-chairs, would be voting on whether to co-sponsor the policy.

            Publication of student course evaluations (Student Affairs).  Sen. Sara Snedeker
(Stu., Barnard) said her committee was working on a report and resolution to present to the plenary on March 30.  She and Sen. Ryan Turner (Stu., SEAS) had met with the Faculty Affairs Committee, and were now revising the report to account for comments made there.  Sen. Snedeker offered to provide the latest report draft to interested senators.

            Conflict of interest policy. Sen. O’Halloran said Naomi Schrag of the Office of Research Compliance was now incorporating a set of technical amendments into the University’s conflict of interest policy, which will put the University into compliance with new NIH regulations. Sen. O’Halloran said the new language is non-discretionary. Ms. Schrag will present the new language to the Senate later in the spring.

After this presentation, Sen. O’Halloran said, there would be a discussion of whether it will be necessary to update the policy in other ways.

            Email privileges for senators (Structure and Operations). Sen. Ron Mazor (Stu., Law), chair of Structure and Operations, said the issue of the need for email access to University Senate constitutencies applies to all senators, but had particular relevance for student senators in a recent situation.

Sen. Frouman explained that Student Affairs, for its Morningside Student Space Initiative, had hoped to survey students in five Morningside schools. The only way to reach this population was to work with five different student councils. He said the councils had been receptive, although one still hadn’t responded after two weeks, but the process was slow because Student Affairs cannot send email directly to  students in the schools. 
Sen. Mazor said Structure and Operations was now working on a policy incorporating the principle of open communication between senators and their constituencies. He said there are now certain workarounds, through the administration or student councils, but senators should not have to go through layers of bureaucracy to reach out to those who voted for them.  Part of the effort was to identify types of communication that might be appropriate, including surveys, informational updates, and news of University Senate affairs or events.  Sen. Mazor said these are non-partisan messages which need broad distribution.  

Committee reports.
--Faculty affairs on a proposal to change academic titles and tracks at CUMC (Presentation from P&S Deans Lee Goldman and Anne Taylor). Faculty Affairs Committee co-chair Robert Pollack (Ten., A&S/Natural Sciences) said the present proposal was the most complicated and important document the committee had handled in his time as FAC co-chair. He said Dean Anne Taylor, who would present the proposal to the plenary, had been responsive in discussions with the full committee and in smaller groups.

Sen. Pollack called attention to a letter in the packet from tenured P&S professors (and FAC members) Alice Prince and Sharon Wardlaw about some of the specifics of the proposal. Sen. Pollack said that after much deliberation, FAC had voted 12-0, with two abstentions, to have Dean Taylor and Dean Lee Goldman present the proposal at the present meeting.

Sen. Pollack said the proposal would affect the futures of colleagues at the uptown campus numbering in the thousands. He urged senators to take the time to ask the deans  questions. He said FAC members from other concerned schools, including the College of Dental Medicine (Sen. Letty Moss-Salentijn) and Public Health (Sen. Greg Freyer), were also present. Sen. Pollack said FAC would ask for a Senate vote at the next plenary, on March 30.

Sen. O’Halloran repeated that the proposal would be for discussion only at the present meeting.

Lee Goldman, Dean of P&S and EVP for Health and Biomedical Sciences, offered some introductory remarks. He said the four schools of CUMC (medicine, dentistry, public health, and nursing) have more than 2,000 full-time faculty, a minority of whom are tenured or on the tenure track. He said the Medical Center delivers some $800 million worth of patient care a year, with enormous service programs in all the schools. So its makeup is very different from that of the Morningside campus. Historically, Dean Goldman said, CUMC has had several different academic titles, in a system that is confusing, demoralizing, and different from those of its competitors.  He said a faculty committee, drawn from all four schools, had made a cogent recommendation that would simplify the classification system to just two full-time tracks.  It would still distinguish the full-time faculty from the several thousand part-time faculty involved in clinical teaching in offices and hospitals around the city and beyond, whose current titles are indistinguishable from those of full-time faculty.  Aside from distinguishing these two types of faculty, he said, the main goal was to simplify the titles of the full-time faculty with clear criteria for promotion. 

Dean Taylor then made a presentation based on a set of slides that were later distributed to the Senate.

The president invited questions. He asked whether everyone understood the new titles.

Dean Goldman explained that he and Dean Taylor are cardiologists, based in the Department of Medicine. In that role, under the present system, they could have one of four titles: professor of medicine, clinical professor of medicine, professor of clinical medicine, or professor of medicine at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.  Under the new model, they could have only two titles: professor of medicine, or professor of medicine at CUMC. Under the new model, the “clinical” titles would be reserved for the 3,000 part-time faculty. Dean Goldman said most peer institutions had adopted a title structure similar to this proposed model. 

In response to a question from the president, Dean Goldman said only a small minority of CUMC faculty are tenured or on the tenure track. In the proposed system, these faculty would retain the same “unmodified” titles. The rest of the full-time faculty would have the same titles except for the phrase “at Columbia University Medical Center” at the end.

Sen. Rebecca Jordan-Young (Fac., Barnard) said that of the schools at CUMC she was most familiar with the Public Health, where she had done part of her doctoral research. Her sense was that the vast majority of the CUMC faculty aren’t tenure track or tenured, and asked if the proposal was meant to address this issue.

Dean Goldman said the proposal was simply about names.

Sen. Jordan-Young said she understood also that the proposal seeks to clarify the trajectory for retention and progression.  Were there concrete steps also laid out for non-tenure-track faculty?

Dean Taylor said current guidelines for promotion are fairly vague.  But the guidelines in the new system would clearly articulate the work products expected at each rank for each area of focus. 

Dean Goldman added that the new guidelines would establish new review procedures.  Currently tenure-track faculty are automatically reviewed at particular intervals.  As for non-tenure-track faculty, he thought it was an understatement to call current procedures vague.

Sen. Ron Breslow (Ten., A&S/Natural Sciences) said he understood the need to distinguish between tenure-track and non-tenure-track faculty, but he said the second title—“at CUMC”—was so bizarre that he doubted anyone but CUMC administrators would understand it. 

Sen. Breslow suggested that administrators might not want to make distinctions between the two groups of full-time faculty.  Maybe people would feel better without an asterisk next to their names.

Dean Goldman said different institutions handle this issue differently. The committee that developed the new guidelines thought the “at CUMC” title was a good compromise, given Columbia’s history and traditions. Some institutions have done away with all modifiers, and their titles don’t indicate whether someone is on the tenure track or not.  CUMC was making a different proposal.

Dean Taylor said the “at CUMC” title replaces three confusing modifiers with a single modifier.

Sen. Kenneth Durell (Stu., CC) asked how tenure-track faculty are identified with Columbia. Is it somewhere in their titles?

Sen. Pollack thought a professorial title is normally identified with a department, then perhaps a school, but not Columbia University. 

Sen. Daniel Savin (Research Officers) said research officers had read the proposal with interest, noting the clear metrics for promotion within each title and area of focus.  He also noted a close parallel between metrics used for non-tenure-track faculty and those for research officers at CUMC. He recognized that his concern did not concern the business before the Senate, but he encouraged a study of professional research officers at CUMC similar to the recent one that led to the establishment of a research professor title at Lamont.  One reason for such a request is that research officers often get denied funding because some of their titles—research scientist, for example—would be entry-level positions in a pharmaceutical company, whereas at Columbia a research scientist is an independent investigator, roughly equivalent to a tenured professor.  Sen. Savin said introducing a research professor title at CUMC like the one at Lamont would increase the ability of professional research officers to bring in research funds to the medical campus, and would benefit the university as a whole. 

Dean Goldman said the CUMC administration would be glad to consider this idea, but it wasn’t part of the proposal now before the Senate.
Sen. Jordan-Young asked if the new metrics for reviews of non-tenure-track faculty take effect from this moment forward.  For example, some non-tenure-track people hadn’t had any review for eight, ten, twelve years.  Is there a mechanism to look retrospectively at some of their accomplishments?

Dean Goldman said the dean’s office has no intention to go back and give people retroactive titles.  On the other hand, there is a reservoir of faculty who had not been evaluated according to the guidelines now under consideration. It would be impossible to review everyone on whatever date the new system might go into effect. But the dean certainly expected to go through the faculty and make sure that people are now appropriately titled.  A side benefit of the new guidelines is that they bring in structure where it has been lacking.

Dean Taylor said this issue would also be taken up in the implementation of the new guidelines. Faculty who have been at CUMC for some years, who may be near promotion, will need some sort hybrid structure so that people are not held back. 

Sen. Mona Diab (Research Officers) asked about the three focus areas under the “at CUMC” titles.  Would there be further designations in the title that would indicate, for example, an investigative as opposed to an educational focus? 

Dean Taylor said such designations would be for internal use only.

Dean Goldman said the actual titles would not include such distinctions. 

Dean Taylor added that it was important to have some distinctions so that faculty understand what the expectations are in their pathways.

Dean Goldman added that Dean Taylor had also developed a major new program for mentoring faculty, including earlier declaration by faculty of their choice of pathway. Such a program would enable CUMC to nurture people who are world class in each of the focus areas.

Sen. Diab asked if faculty were not allowed to change focus tracks.

Dean Goldman said faculty could cross over early in their career, but the goal was to help people identify their main interests and skills and mentor them well so that they become outstanding in their chosen area.

Sen. Savin asked if the mentoring program Dean Goldman was describing would teach mentors how to do performance evaluations.  He said faculty mentor some 1,000 post-docs at the university, who are looking for careers in academe or industry. But the mentors don’t get taught how to, for example, do regular performance evaluations.  He asked for a mechanism to train faculty in do performance evaluations.

--Commission on the Status of Women: Melissa Tihinen, senior manager, Student Services, for gender-based and sexual misconduct, on the implementation of new provisions in Columbia policies on sexual misconduct. Ms. Tihinen gave a presentation closely based on a set of PowerPoint slides that are included in the Senate packet.

Sen. Jordan-Young recalled that one reason for the intervention of the Office of Civil Rights was the sense that schools were deciding rather preemptively not to begin or to continue investigations   She asked if record keeping would capture cases in which a referral is made but there is no investigation because there is no information. Will people know how this process is playing out?

Ms. Tihinen said the intent of the “Dear Colleague” letter was to require universities to track all reports, whether or not they move forward to a full investigation. Sometimes Ms. Tihinen conducts a limited investigation, based on information that turns out to be insufficient to support an investigation if the person does not want to cooperate.

Sen. Jordan-Young said she was talking about a different situation, in which there is a recommendation to preempt a disclosure, to make sure that a student knows what must be reported, and then to move that person into a situation where he or she can talk about it with one of the confidential sources without prompting an investigation.  Her question was, Are those referrals going to be counted in some way?

Ms. Tihinen said that any report of misconduct that she becomes aware of will be counted. But she might never hear of a case in which, for example, a student is told by a confidential resource that the issue is not related to misconduct.

Sen. Jordan-Young said there could be tracking if there were a way to count all referrals, perhaps by having the confidential resources report aggregate data, without ever attaching them to people’s names. This approach would give an indication of whether complaints are not being reported.

Sen. O’Halloran said Sen. Jordan-Young’s concern was that people fall through the cracks. It was also important to realize that even if a student doesn’t want to pursue a report, they will be less likely to say anything at first if they don’t have someone they can talk to confidentially. Her own dilemma as a mandatory reporter is that she can’t pre-emptively tell someone not to tell her something that she will have to report.

Ms. Tihinen emphasized that the confidential resources—counselors at Counseling and Psychological Services, campus clergy—have all been trained in how to talk with students about this process. 
Sen Jordan-Young said that was not her concern; she was concerned solely about reporting and record keeping.

Ms. Tihinen said students can report to Public Safety, in accordance with Clery requirements, and she also receives data from the NYPD precincts, which are involved in the Clery reporting data as well.  There are different ways to track the campus climate.

Sen. Frouman said Ms. Tihinen had made a presentation to the Student Affairs Committee that morning. He referred to what he called a chilling op-ed in the Columbia Spectator in May of 2010 about a sexual misconduct case in which Ms. Tihinen’s office recommended several sanctions for a student that were ultimately overturned by the dean of the College. He had heard that there had since been reforms to the process. But he didn’t think the judicial process had earned back the trust of the student body on a large scale, and there was still widespread cynicism that a wealthy student with a lawyer can get away with a lot more because of his or her involvement with the dean’s office and because of various vetoes that can be made along the way.  In the case described in 2010, the veto was based on cited procedural errors, and the whole case was overturned, and despite the hearing panel’s recommendation of several sanctions for the student, there were no sanctions in the end.  Sen. Frouman asked the Senate secretary to send the Spectator article out to the senate.  He repeated that students are waiting to see if similar concerns are addressed for future cases.

Sen. O’Halloran confirmed that there have since been procedural changes making it clearer when one can have a lawyer. But the goal of earning the trust, and sharing information, was the purpose of Ms. Tihinen’s outreach efforts to student groups, as well as her present visit to the Senate. She thanked Ms. Tihinen.

Sen. Frouman thought it would help for everyone to see the Spectator article, adding that many of the concerns expressed there have nothing to do with the work of Ms. Tihinen’s office, or with the new reporting arrangements that she had described. Those concerns have to do with the ultimate authority of the deans in actually disciplining the students, and with how students may be able to interfere with that process.

Sen. Ron Mazor (Stu., Law) asked whether Ms. Tihinen’s office takes steps to insure that what it hears is truthful, for example by requiring people to speak under oath.

Ms. Tihinen said her office certainly tells students that it’s important for them to be truthful.  But the situation is complex because people are often telling what they believe to be their truth.  And so her office investigates as thoroughly as possible, and if it appears that the complaining student has deceived investigators, her office will investigate that possibility as well.

Sen. Mazor asked if the students actually agree to tell the truth, or if the office plays out an expectation of truthfulness.

Ms. Tihinen said the process was not a legal one, and students don’t have to speak under oath. She does tell students that we want them to be truthful in the process because that’s in everyone’s best interest.

Donna Fenn of the General Counsel’s office offered two comments. She said the proceedings Ms. Tihinen conducts, like other internal disciplinary proceedings, do not require students to swear under oath. And with respect to the 2010 Spec article, Ms. Fenn said the sanctions recommended in that case were overturned specifically because of procedural errors in the hearing process, not for some separate reason.  The recent efforts to update the current process were meant to address precisely those conditions.

Sen. Pollack asked Ms. Tihinen to model how the Columbia process could have helped Tyler Clementi, the gay Rutgers freshman who committed suicide after his roommate secretly videotaped him having sex and then shared the footage result widely. Sen. Pollack understood that Mr. Clementi had made a call to someone, but there was no process to help him before he jumped off a bridge. 

Ms. Tihinen said her office has policies and procedures in place, but she couldn’t speak to the Clementi case.

Sen. Pollack said he wasn’t asking about Clementi, but about how Columbia could address similar risks.

Sen. O’Halloran said the key question was whether Columbia has multiple safety mechanisms in place, and whether they’re strong enough. She said the relevant administrators think about that a lot. She said the Clementi case would be a good test of the workings of the Columbia system. She asked if Ms. Tihinen could follow up with Sen. Pollack on this question.

Sen. Diab asked how Ms. Tihinen’s work differs from that of the ombuds officer.

Ms. Tihinen said the ombuds office provides neutral support to people who have questions about policies, whereas her office is charged with investigating allegations of gender-based misconduct among students, and insuring that appropriate sanctions are applied to students found responsible for violating the policy.

Ms. Tihinen then noticed Marsha Wagner, the ombuds officer, in the room, and invited her to comment.

Ms. Wagner said the ombuds office doesn’t do investigations because it’s informal, but it also is there to address a very broad range of issues, including interpersonal misunderstandings. She said there are many options for conflict resolution, including mediation.

Sen. James Applegate (Ten., A&S/Natural Sciences) said that when a student tells him that he or she did poorly on a midterm for  personal reasons, there may be an important revelation in the next sentence. His own role in directing a student to Ms. Tihinen’s office or to the Rape Crisis Center is clear enough. What’s not so clear is his own obligation to notify administrators. Which administrators? What else should he do after he has done what he can to assure that the student is safe?

Ms. Tihinen said Sen. Applegate had highlighted the most important obligation, which is ensuring that the student is safe and connected to the appropriate resources. She said the next step is to contact her office; she pointed to her contact information on ths screen.   She said she was also going to academic departments to get the information out to faculty. And so it is coming at a broader scale way as well. She said many department chairs have been trained already.

New business.
Resolution to Establish the Brown Institute for Media Innovation (Education). Sen. Moss-Salentijn, Education Committee co-chair, said the proposed institute had been well endowed by a generous gift from the Brown family, to be shared by Stanford and Columbia universities. The institute would be housed in the Columbia Journalism School.  The two universities will work together to advance the connection between journalism and digital media. Like all institutes, the new one would focus on interdisciplinary research and teaching. She said the Education Committee recommended approval of the establishment of the institute.

The Senate then approved the resolution by voice vote without dissent.

Sen. O’Halloran adjourned the meeting at around 2:45 pm.

Respectfully submitted,


Tom Mathewson
Senate secretary