University Senate                                                                               

Proposed: October 19, 2012

Adopted: October 19, 2012

[A full transcript of this plenary session is available here.]



Executive Committee chair Sharyn O’Halloran (Ten., SIPA) called the Senate to order shortly after 1:15 pm in 501 Schermerhorn. Sixty of 95 senators were present during the meeting.

Nominations to committees. The Senate elected three student senators to the Executive Committee: Anjelica Kelly (Bus.), Eduardo Santana (CC), and Richard Sun (CC).

Welcome to new senators. The secretary read aloud the names of 17 new senators. The Senate welcomed them with applause.

Minutes and agenda. The Senate adopted the agenda (Exhibit 1) and the minutes of April 27, 2012 (Exhibit 2) as proposed.

President’s remarks
Fundraising. President Lee Bollinger said Columbia passed the $5 billion mark in its capital campaign this summer, and will shoot for $6 billion in the final year of the campaign. The goal at the start of the campaign was $4 billion. Annual giving for the FY12 totaled about $500 million, putting Columbia in the top 3 among American universities.

            Manhattanville. The president said the Mind Brain Behavior building would rise out of the ground shortly. Plans for the new School of the Arts building—the Lenfest Center for the Arts—and the Commons Building for conferences and seminars are also proceeding apace.

Global initiatives. Eight Columbia global centers are now up and running. The president listed their directors. He listed recent activities of the Weatherhead Institute program in Beijing, Shanghai, and Mumbai, and described a pilot fifth-year program for Columbia undergraduates.

            Fisher case before the Supreme Court. The president spoke at length about the lawsuit brought by Abigail Fisher testing the constitutionality of the affirmative action admissions policy of the University of Texas. The case may also call into question the Court’s last major decision on affirmative action, in Grutter v. Bollinger (2003), which in key respects affirmed the policy of the University of Michigan when Mr. Bollinger was president there.

The president responded to questions and comments from Sens. Philip Stephenson (Stu., Law),
James Valentini (Admin.), Tabisa Walwema (Stu., Law), Ronald Breslow (Ten., A&S/NS), and Samuel Silverstein (Ten., P&S).

Executive Committee chair’s remarks. Sen. O’Halloran said the Senate could take action on the proposed Standing Committee Rosters at the next plenary.

Global Initiatives Task Force.  Sen. O’Halloran said she gave a presentation to the Trustees on behalf of the task force. This was one of several efforts across the university to offer ideas on global initiatives.

Online Learning Task Force. Sen. O’Halloran said she gave a presentation to the Council of Deans on this subject. On September 26 the task force met with Daphne Koller, a founder of Coursera, a provider of Massive Open Online Courses that have been developed by faculty from elite universities. The meeting, which included a broad representation of Columbia’s academic constituencies, focused on issues of pedagogy raised by this new medium.  Sen. O’Halloran mentioned what she called a promising possibility—bringing Columbia’s online learning and global initiatives together, for enhancement of curricula and revenue.

Fringe benefits. The provost was not at the meeting. Sen. O’Halloran reported that a final version of a new retirement benefits package is imminent, to take effect for officers hired after June 30, 2013. Another provostial report expected this fall will address broader issues in retirement policy, including quality-of-life and housing issues.

            Follow-up on Senate actions of April 27.
Resolution to Encourage Open Course Evaluations.The question of implementation is now under way in Columbia schools. One topic is whether to make qualitative comments as well as quantitative evaluations available online.

Resolution to Authorize University Senators to Communicate with Their Constituencies by Mass Email. The first senators to make use of the new email privileges will be students. Email lists will be available to some senators in the next month

Sen. O’Halloran fielded a question from Sen. Aly Jiwani (Stu., SIPA).

2011-12 Annual committee reports.
Campus Planning and Physical Development. Sen. Ronald Breslow (Ten., A&S/NS), the chair, spoke to the report (Exhibit 3). He addressed questions from Sens. Jessica Angelson (Stu., Nursing) and Jeffrey Kysar (Ten., SEAS). 

            Research Officers. Committee chair Daniel Savin (Research Officers) spoke to the report (Exhibit 4).

Other reports.
               --Task Force on Smoking Policy—Sens. Elaine Larson (Ten., Nursing) and Francis Y. Lee (Ten., P&S), co-chairs. Sen. O’Halloran reminded senators that the current Morningside policy prohibits smoking less than 20 feet from campus buildings. The December 2012 enacting Senate resolution calls for a review of the policy within two years. A task force carried out that review, and was now presenting its findings.

Sen.  Lee presented the report (Exhibit 5), showing PowerPoint slides

Sen. Lee responded to questions and comments from Sens. Venkatesh Hariharan (Stu., SEAS/Grad), James Neal (Admin.), Mark Cohen (NT, Bus.), Soulaymane Kachani (NT, SEAS),  Ronald Breslow, and Samuel Silverstein. Michael McNeil, director of the Alice! Health Promotion Program and the administrator who has been most involved in deliberations on Morningside smoking policy in recent years, also joined the discussion.

               --Provost’s Advisory Committee on ROTC--Sen. Jeffrey Kysar (Ten., SEAS), chair (no documents). Sen. Kysar recalled the Senate’s April 1, 2011 resolution recommending a resumption of formal relations with ROTC. On May 26 of that year President Bollinger signed an agreement with the Secretary of the Navy and the academic staff of SUNY Maritime College to reestablish a Navy ROTC program at Columbia.

Sen. Kysar said a number of Columbia students in recent decades—a few every year—have been pursuing ROTC training on their own, either through the Army program at Fordham or the Air Force program at Manhattan College. Now they can pursue the program formally. 

Sen. Kysar said the agreement is a public document, and has been on the provost’s website for some weeks now (he had also brought a few copies with him). Because the agreement left many details to be filled in by academic people, Provost Coatsworth  formed a committee to advise him on how to integrate the ROTC program into the educational life of the university.

Sen. Kysar named the members of the committee. He acknowledged the collaboration of Vice Provost Stephen Rittenberg, his assistant Raquel Munoz, and Amber Griffiths, Manager of Military and Veteran Affairs, who will also manage some aspects of the NROTC program.

Sen. Kysar summarized the main categories of Columbia’s agreement with the Navy.
--Student eligibility. All Columbia undergraduates are eligible to apply for ROTC.  Students can seek ROTC scholarships either before or after they arrive at Columbia.  Special programs in the Navy and the Marines enable enlisted people to apply to Columbia and enroll in NROTC. Sen. Kysar said there are four students in the new Columbia NROTC program: one is a College freshman with a scholarship; the other three, in GS, are in the special Navy and Marine programs. They take the eight-course NROTC curriculum at SUNY Maritime College in the Throgs Neck section of the Bronx. The time commitment for the courses and the physical training is 12-15 hours a week. Columbia rents a car for the students’ commute, which takes about a half-hour each way.  Their scholarships cover tuition, academic fees, supplies, books, and uniforms, and a subsistence allowance—everything but room and board.   Cadets can apply for financial aid in addition to the ROTC scholarship.  The typical obligation to the Navy after graduation is four years of active duty, plus four years in the Reserves.

NROTC administration. Sen. Kysar said the NROTC commanding officer is Navy Captain Matthew Loughlin. He also named a half-dozen subordinates. Each officer has a part-time administrative appointment at Columbia—at zero salary, because they are paid by the Navy. They have the perks of Columbia officers, including parking, gym, library, and email privileges.

Use of Columbia facilities. Sen. Kysar said the biggest obstacle in establishing the program has been finding suitable space in a campus building used by undergraduates. The university finally carved out some space on the ground floor of Lerner that had been occupied by vending machines. The NROTC officers have moved in, and are now holding office hours.

Columbia status of ROTC courses. The advisory committee has devoted a lot of time to the eight courses of the NROTC curriculum, which include Introduction to Military Life, classes on leadership and military history, and some classes on technical subjects related to ships’ systems. These courses are all taught by Naval and Marine officers, who are stationed at SUNY Maritime for two or three years at a time. The agreement stipulates that Columbia faculty will review these courses critically, but does not require them to accept any for Columbia credit.

Sen. Kysar said Columbia faculty are currently conducting an iterative review process for each course. They evaluate a course, and offer feedback. In some cases, the Navy can pursue the changes necessary for it to qualify for academic credit here.

Sen. Kysar said one of the courses has been approved by a Columbia department, after a rigorous back-and-forth process, and is now on the agenda of a committee on instruction in one of the Columbia schools. Faculty reviews of some other courses concluded that there is nothing the Navy can do to make them eligible for Columbia credit. Sen. Kysar added that ROTC physical training already counts as one point toward the two-point Physical Education requirement.

Dr. Rittenberg has arranged for all ROTC students—not only in the Columbia NROTC program but also in the Army and Air Force programs on other campuses—to have separate sections on their transcripts for Columbia and ROTC courses. Any courses approved for Columbia credit will be listed in both sections.

Sen. Kysar said the ROTC website is almost up. Columbia has also made tentative contacts with the Air Force ROTC program at Manhattan College and the Army program at Fordham. There will be a formal welcome for the Columbia NROTC program in the early spring.

Sen. Kysar encouraged senators to find ways to bring the NROTC contingent—students and staff—into the life of the university and to welcome them back to campus. He listed some Engineering School activities in which NROTC people are already participating. In an introductory engineering course, an NROTC lieutenant who is a helicopter pilot will help teach the unit on aeronautics and aerospace. One NROTC student who’s already enlisted in the Navy, an expert welder, is helping student groups in their regular project of building a race car. 

Sen. O’Halloran thanked Sen. Kysar. She adjourned the meeting shortly before 3 pm.   

Respectfully submitted,

Tom Mathewson, Senate secretary