University Senate                                                                   

Proposed: December 6, 2013




Lee Bollinger, the president, called the Senate to order shortly after 1:15 pm. Fifty-eight of 100 senators were present during the meeting.

Minutes and agenda. The agenda and the minutes of October 25 were adopted as proposed.

President’s remarks. The president elaborated on an announcement a few days earlier from Columbia College dean James Valentini that said grants will be awarded to undergraduate students, primarily after the first year, to use Columbia’s global centers during the summer for research projects. He said this is the next in a series of efforts to enable all Columbia people—faculty, students, and staff—to be out in the world more, working on problems. The president said he would offer a significant new statement on globalization in the coming week.

Sen. Paige West (Fac., Barnard) of Anthropology said she had sent an email to President Bollinger and Barnard’s President Spar about the attempts of a group of students on campus to
respond to the recent disaster in the Philippines. She asked if the Senate could discuss ways to help these students with university resources. For example, they’re being charged a lot of money to reserve rooms for a benefit on campus. She expected that a global university would want students to respond to a crisis of this kind. Could the president, or perhaps the Senate, help these students get what they need?

The president said someone would follow up right away. He urged Sen. West to email his office, copying two of his aides.

Sen. West said she would forward to him the emails she had twice sent to his office.

The president said his office will respond.

Sen. Akshay Shay (Stu., SEAS) said it’s normal for students to have to pay for space and equipment.

Executive Committee chair’s remarks. Sen. Sharyn O’Halloran (Ten., SIPA) said the implementation task force for the new smoking policy had held its first meeting that morning.  

            Online Learning Task Force. The task force report was circulating in draft form among Senate committees. Sen. O’Halloran expected to present it at the December 6 plenary.

            Student Affairs Committee Quality-of-Life Survey. SAC co-chair Matthew Chou (CC)
said that after the presentation from his co-chair, Akshay Shah (SEAS), at the previous plenary, the group was now analyzing and writing up its conclusions on each of the topics covered in the survey, which was conducted last spring. The write-ups will be circulated to administrators and others in the coming week. After they have collected feedback and achieved consensus on recommendations, the students will release the results publicly.

Sen. O’Halloran reported after consulting with the secretary that the Senate did not have a three-fifths majority of all incumbent senators present—the level of support required to amend the University Statutes by adding a new kind of degree—and therefore could not vote on the proposed clinical doctorate in occupational therapy.

New business. The president called for action on the two other resolutions on the agenda from the Education Committee.

            Master of Data Science (SEAS). Sen. James Applegate, co-chair of the Education Committee, said the proposal is for a 30-point interdisciplinary master’s program shared between the Engineering School and the Dept. of Statistics in the Arts and Sciences. The program will be based in the Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering that was created last year as part of the grant that Columbia got from the City of New York under an applied sciences initiative. The Education Committee strongly endorsed the program.

Sen. Foad Torshizi (Stu., GSAS/Hum) expressed concern that students in this interdisciplinary program might not get adequate faculty advising.

Sen. Applegate said the program will start with 50 students, and is expected to be very popular. The key question is whether the manpower requirements for faculty in the program have been thought through. He said the answer is a resounding yes.

The Senate then voted without dissent to approve the program.

            Certificate in Implantology. Education Committee co-chair Letty Moss-Salentijn (Ten., CDM) said implantology is an area of expertise that goes beyond the standard current clinical specialties in dentistry. It is rapidly becoming a favorite way to replace teeth. Because it is a very intense specialization, requiring skills not taught elsewhere in the clinical curriculum, it will be a separate, two-year program. Columbia has acquired a team of internationally known people in this field, and the program is expected to attract an international student population.

The Senate then voted without dissent to approve the program.

Committee reports.
            Information Technology annual report for 2012-13. IT Committee co-chair Julia Hirschberg (Ten., SEAS) summarized the report, which had been distributed. It touched on online learning programs, shared research computing, data governance, an expected replacement in the near future for the student information system, and Accounting and Reporting at Columbia, the ARC system. Sen. Hirschberg said the committee report details problems people are having with that system. She asked people who are still having problems with ARC to contact her at She said IT Committee members have been meeting with EVP for Finance Anne Sullivan and her team, who have been very responsive.

Sen. Carol Lin (NT, A&S/NS) asked if the IT Committee was studying the wireless network.
Sen. Hirschberg said the committee has not addressed that issue recently. Candace Fleming, head of CUIT, was monitoring wireless networks.

Sen. Jeanine D’Armiento (Ten., P&S) said there was a new exchange system for email at the Medical Center. Many people who have not yet signed up for the exchange, including some people in the room, are not getting their university email. The plan to phase out was poorly understood. The system is not working well.

Sen. Hirschberg said she would take up this point with VP Candace Fleming.

            -- Mark Newton of the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship in the Libraries, on the implementation of the open access policy on scholarly publications (Libraries). Mr. Newton based his report closely on a PowerPoint presentation projected on the screen.

Sen. Ronald Breslow (Ten., A&S/NS) raised the question of who favors open access, and who opposes it. The proponents love the idea of getting something free. If there were free food, he would sign up for that program also. The problem is that it costs money to produce the research, and a lot of it is being done by societies. For instance, the American Chemical Society is the biggest scientific society in the world, publishing some 50 journals. They’re not open access – though they have started one open-access journal as an experiment.

Sen. Breslow said he was inclined to agree with the claim of the open access movement that commercial publishers charge too much. But journals are one of the main functions of scientific societies, which have their own editors and people who are willing to serve as referees on papers. Sen. Breslow refuses invitations to be a referee for open access publications because he thinks it takes away a major support for the professional societies, many of which depend on the income from their journals. To the argument that it should all be free, his response was yes, but it costs something.

Sen. Breslow was also troubled by the part of the open-access initiative that calls on authors to pay to publish scholarly articles. How does that differ from advertising? Will editors of open- access journals be tough about turning down articles that don’t meet the standards but come with needed funds?

Mr. Newton said open access is not to be confused with the idea that scholarship is somehow free to produce. He said a number of open-access business models are in play now for the production of these scholarly works. In the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship (CDRS) in the Columbia Libraries, where he works, some journals do charge an article-processing fee to cover the costs of production. No open-access advocate would say scholarship is free to produce, though there are many free contributions into the system from authors and editors. It is also true that digital technology reduces production and distribution costs. It’s also understood that scientific societies are not publishers charging exorbitant fees—he noted that a representative from Elsevier, a major commercial publisher, had cited a profit margin of 37 percent on articles it produces. In general, he said, commercial publishing is a problem; societies, not so much.
But open access also goes hand in hand with the university’s interest in taking responsibility for access and preservation, as the Senate noted in its 2005 resolution on open access. But he said there was no intent in the open access movement to squeeze societies out, and many open-access initiatives are undertaken in concert with societies. He did not see an easy solution, but saw progress in Columbia initiatives, through CDRS.

Sen. Samuel Silverstein (Ten., P&S), chair of the Libraries Committee, said the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has directed that all government agencies with R&D budgets over $100 million must have an open-access policy in place in short order. This decision indicates that this kind of publishing, and the requirement that all federally funded research must be freely accessible after a 12-month embargo, will apply to all scholarly disciplines. So the responsible conduct of science is now the responsible conduct of research. Sen. Silverstein said the Libraries Committee will look at this development carefully, considering its applications to Columbia students and faculty.

Sen. Silverstein’s second point was that many of the journals in which Columbia researchers publish are run by commercial organizations whose futures are not guaranteed. Therefore, the effort of the Libraries to store and have available each Columbia researcher’s scholarly work deserves careful consideration. He recommended this way to preserve scholarship.

He concluded that open access is an effort to democratize information, not to take the profit out of the publishing industry, or to destroy the opportunity of scientific societies to earn important dollars that they use for other good purposes, The goal is to make knowledge available as widely and as inexpensively as possible, for the benefit of all. He called for ways to make constructive contributions to the open access effort, instead of ways to oppose it. He invited all senators—particularly Sen. Breslow—to provide input to the Libraries Committee on this issue.

The president asked if it was the sense of the discussion that the place to discuss Sen. Breslow’s concerns about scientific societies is the Libraries Committee. Sen. Silverstein thought such a discussion would be fruitful.

Sen. Breslow called attention to the one-year embargo that Sen. Silverstein had mentioned, which he said was a more workable arrangement. He said that’s the current arrangement for American Chemical Society journals—they’re all free after an embargo period. But many people want to see the new article right away, and are willing to pay for it. But if open access means an article is universally available for free upon publication, that’s not the current system.

Sen. Silverstein said the government is not insisting on universal availability upon publication, an indication that thoughtful people are balancing the perspectives of open access and publishers’ rights. Turning to the president, Sen. Silverstein repeated his view that the Libraries Committee is exactly the right place to discuss this issue. He said the present federal requirement will likely be succeeded by a requirement that all institutions that take federal monies must publish in ways that are freely accessible. He said this is an ethical consideration that the university should be broadly involved in.
Discussion of the clinical doctorate in Occupational Therapy. The president said that there were still not enough senators present to vote on the proposed clinical doctorate. He said it would still be useful to discuss the program, as preparation for a vote at the December plenary.

Sen. Letty Moss-Salentijn invited the director of the occupational therapy program, Janet Falk-Kessler, to speak about the proposal.

Prof. Falk-Kessler said the clinical doctorate is a degree that the profession of occupational therapy has been looking to establish for the last decade. The degree that the OT program offers now at the Medical Campus is the entry-level, professional degree at the master’s level. But more and more health professions are moving on to clinical doctorates, and peer institutions are adding such degrees in OT. Two or three years ago, less than 10 percent of the OT programs in the U.S. were offering this degree. That fraction is now about 30 percent. Demand is growing. All of the top five OT programs have the doctorate, along with a majority of programs in the top 10 percent (of which Columbia’s is one).

Prof. Falk-Kessler generally found these programs to be wanting: one is focused on leadership, another on how to be a consultant; still others allow the students to pick a subject, and then create a program for them. She immediately determined that that is exactly what she did not want to do at Columbia. In meetings of the OT faculty, there was agreement that any doctoral program must be worthy of Columbia.

Instead, the Columbia planners set out to develop a program that would reflect all of this university’s current and future initiatives, a truly clinical program promoting advanced clinical practice for each student, not just as a clinician but also as a researcher. Because they knew that cognitive impairment is the strongest predictor of disability in activities of daily and community living, they decided to focus the clinical doctorate on cognition itself, and how it can be translated to community participation.

The result, Prof. Falk-Kessler said, is a program that is truly Columbia-worthy. It includes 75 post-baccalaureate credits, with a residency program focusing on cognition, and a research project with a publication. It includes a portfolio presentation to an interdisciplinary panel of experts. The courses cover not just theory on cognition, but also intervention and assessment.

Sen. Breslow asked Prof. Falk-Kessler to identify some peer institutions she had referred to.

Prof. Falk-Kessler said not all of the institutions are really peers. Among the 30 or so offering the clinical doctorate in OT are New York University, Tufts University; the University of Southern California, and the University of Illinois.

Sen. Breslow said he did not think those institutions are Columbia’s peers.

Prof. Falk-Kessler agreed. She said her goal is to make the Columbia clinical doctorate the standard in the OT profession.

Sen. O’Halloran thanked Ms. Falk-Kessler for her presentation. She adjourned the meeting shortly after 2:15 pm.

Respectfully submitted,


Tom Mathewson, Senate staff