University Senate Proposed: September 26, 1997
MINUTES OF APRIL 25, 1997
President George Rupp, the chairman, called the Senate to order shortly after 1:15 pm in Schapiro Engineering Auditorium. Forty-seven of 86 senators were present during the meeting.
Minutes and agenda: The agenda was adopted as proposed. The minutes of the meeting of March 28 were adopted with one amendment offered by Sen. Joan Ferrante (Ten., GS).
President's report: The President said the University had achieved its third consecutive balanced annual budget, and its fourth consecutive record year in fundraising, both in dollar amounts and number of gifts. Students, faculty, and staff lobbied successfully, both in Albany and Washington, to avert serious threats to funding for financial aid and research. The University was also continuing to make major investments in its infrastructure, most importantly in Butler Library, but also in a new student center, a new building for the Law and Business schools, and hundreds of smaller projects. These investments had to be made, he said, but they also put stress on other parts of the University budget, a point that he said was well made in the Budget Review Committee's annual report.
The President said the University has also made steady progress in upgrading services for students, with phone registration, redesigned student bills, better food, and for faculty and staff, with more intelligible pay stubs, a more proactive labor relations stance, and greater transparency in budgets. He said the University was more user-friendly than it had been four or five years earlier.
There has also been progress in collaboration among units, notably under the aegis of the Earth Institute, and between the Business School and the Economics Dept.
Relations have improved with Columbia's surrounding neighborhoods and the city as a whole, with new initiatives like the Provost's Passport to New York program; the University has also elevated its profile internationally.
The President closed his report by expressing appreciation for the leadership of Sen. Karl Kroeber (Ten., GS), chairman of the Executive Committee, who had announced his intention to resign from the Senate at the end of the academic year. The President led the Senate in a round of applause.
Sen. Paul Duby (Ten., SEAS) requested permission to read a resolution honoring Sen. Kroeber, as well as two other senators who had also served since the 1970s: Edgar Housepian (Ten., HS) and Jennifer Bell (Nonten., HS). There was more applause, and expressions of thanks from the three honorees.
Report from the Executive Committee chairman: Sen. Kroeber said that one item of business at the last Executive Committee meeting was a progress report from the Senate office on its operations. Funds had been approved for a new copier and new computers, which he said would help the staff do better work.
Another topic was the Faculty Affairs Committee proposal to revise tenure review procedures, which had prompted several new documents that had been made available for the present meeting, including a 12-page response from the Provost, minutes of a public hearing on April 18 organized by Faculty Affairs, and a letter from Prof. Roger Bagnall stating the objections of Arts and Sciences department chairs to the proposal.
The reason for all of the documentation, Sen. Kroeber said, was that there apparently would not be coverage of the hearing in the University Record. At the Executive Committee, he had pointed out that there had been some confusion about allowing a preview notice about the hearing, but he had understood there would be coverage of the hearing itself. After this expectation turned out to be mistaken, members of the Executive Committee were concerned. In response to an e-mail poll, a majority expressed support for the following statement, which Sen. Kroeber read aloud: "The Executive Committee wishes to reaffirm the need for the Senate, as the elected governing body of the University, to be able to communicate information about its meetings, hearings, and actions directly to the University community in the University Record."
Sen. Kroeber invited comment on this issue. President Rupp said he was one member of the Executive Committee who had never received all of the electronic correspondence on this issue. He also said he knew of no entity in the University that decides what will appear in the Record, which has authority over its own publication, so it seemed odd for the Executive Committee to make such decisions.
Sen. Kroeber said the Executive Committee was not saying that it should decide what appears in the Record, but that there should be free access to it for hearings of this type.
Sen. Joan Ferrante (Ten., GS) recalled discussions from the 1980s in which the administration told senators that the best way to communicate with the University community was through the Spectator or the Record. That was understood to mean that all Senate meetings would be reported.
Sen. Kroeber said that in 1985 a Senate committee had decided not to present a resolution it had prepared for a newsletter on Senate affairs on the basis of assurances from the Executive Committee that coverage in the Spectator and the Record would be effective means of disseminating Senate deliberations.
President Rupp asked if there was any indication that the hearing would not be reported in the Record. Sen. Eben Moglen (Ten., Law) said the confusion could be cleared up by asking Provost Cole or Vice Provost Stephen Rittenberg whether there had been communication between the Provost's office and the Record about coverage of the Faculty Affairs hearing. Sen. Moglen had understood that there had been either strong discouragement or instructions in that communication.
The Provost said that he had had no communication on this subject with the editor of the Record, and that he was not the person to determine the Record's editorial policy. Vice Provost Rittenberg, a nonsenator, spoke after unanimous consent had been given to suspend the rules. He said he had not instructed the editor of the Record about coverage of the hearing. Sen. Moglen asked if Vice Provost Rittenberg had had conversations with the editor of the Record about this matter. Sen. Cole objected to Sen. Moglen's line of questioning, likening it to an interrogation.
The President said that he had been unaware of the 1985 action, and that he thought it was appropriate for Senate deliberations to be covered. But he wondered aloud whether every single meeting of every Senate body should be covered in the Record. Sen. Ferrante replied that an issue that prompts a 12-page letter from the Provost probably deserves a paragraph in the Record. The President suggested that someone should convey to the Record that this issue deserved full coverage.
At this point a member of the Senate staff spoke, in violation of Senate rules.
Resuming his report, Sen. Kroeber turned to the Student Affairs resolution for an ad hoc committee to monitor the enlargement and enhancement (E&E) of Columbia College. He said the issue grew out of a February 1996 report prepared by the Provost, which had anticipated the need for modifications of the plan during its implementation, and had invited review by the Senate and other groups. He added that the resolution seemed in line with the recommendation in the Budget Review Committee annual report for more discussion of the relations between budgetary and educational issues.
Education Committee resolutions: The Executive Committee had approved three resolutions for new degree programs from Education for Senate action, but had referred two others back for further discussion, to the frustration of the chair of Education, Sen. Letty Moss-Salentijn (Ten., SDOS). These were for joint degree programs, one combining the M.D. and M.B.A. degrees, the other combining the D.D.S. and M.B.A.
degrees. There had been clerical mistakes in the drafting of the resolutions, but members of the Executive Committee had also expressed intellectual reservations about the programs. There was also a sense that there was time for further discussion, since the proposed programs were not scheduled to begin until 1998. Since the Executive Committee meeting, however, Sen. Moss-Salentijn has pointed out that some students expected to enroll in the program in September 1997. She would therefore be asking the Executive Committee to approve the program under summer powers.
Sen. Bell said she was perturbed by the previous discussion about the Record, which had raised the question of who decides what is appropriate for the Senate to communicate to the University community. She said the Senate needs a conduit for such communication, and asked how the administration would address this problem. The President said his view was that that the editor decides what goes in any issue of the Record, and that no one, including the President and the Provost, is entitled to assume their story will appear there, in the exact words they want. He said he saw no reason why this procedure should be any different for the Senate. He said he had heard no objection to any Record coverage of Senate issues aside from this one, and this issue was still in process. Sen. Bell said that the decision to reject a basically fair report on the Senate hearing had apparently not been simply a matter of the discretion of the editor, but of other considerations, and that editorial freedom should be acknowledged. The President said it was acknowledged and that the present issue would be covered once it had been discussed from all sides.
Annual committee reports: The President thanked committee chairs for their written reports and asked them to keep any additional comments brief.
Commission on the Status of Women: Amy Heinrich (Nonsen., Lib. Stf.), the chair, mentioned three developments that occurred after the completion of the commission's report. One was a letter that has been sent to faculty members outlining the parental leave policy; Dr. Heinrich thanked the Provost's office, and added that the commission had requested a similar letter for officers of research. The second event was the third and last in the series of colloquia on women in the academy, a meeting with the Provost on April 23 to discuss proactive steps the University could take to improve the condition of women at Columbia. Finally, the Commission had received a letter reporting on the work of the Committee on Salary Equity. Dr. Heinrich pointed out that the 1996 resolution establishing this committee called for annual reports to the full Senate, and asked that such a report be on the agenda of the September Senate meeting.
Student Affairs: Sen. Montimer Mason (Stu., GS), the chair, commented briefly on the Student Affairs report. Sen. Katherine Almquist (Stu., GSAS/Hum) elaborated on a report she had prepared on the need for a uniform system of recognition and supervision for Columbia's many student groups.
--Further discussion of Faculty Affairs proposal to revise tenure review procedures: Sen. James Valentini (Ten., GSAS/NS), chairman of the subcommittee that developed the proposal, began by correcting some errors of detail in recent discussions. since the previous Senate meeting. One was the attribution of the proposal in the Provost's twelve-page letter to his subcommittee, whereas it had in fact been endorsed by the full Faculty Affairs Committee. A second was the description in Prof. Bagnall's letter of the opposition of the Arts and Sciences department chairs to the proposal as unanimous; in fact, two chairs who had missed the chairs' meeting and attended the Faculty Affairs hearing said they would likely have abstained on the proposal.
More important, Sen. Valentini said, was the question of motivation. Discussion of this issue had taken on a personal tone, and Sen. Valentini said that if he made any contribution to this result, he regretted it. His own motivation, he said, resulted partly from his unease with the substantial expansion of the powers of Faculty Affairs in grievances investigations that had been negotiated with the Provost the previous fall. His motivation was to devise procedures that would ultimately reduce the number of grievances by helping to assure equal rigor in tenure reviews, with a set of checks and balances, a degree of regularity and consistency, along with redundancies to correct for human fallibility. Those who disagreed posited different, competing values--making the tenure review process more expeditious, preserving Provostial discretion. Though he didn't think those values were as important, he said that insisting on the rightness of his own position would be intellectual hubris. He concluded that Faculty Affairs had offered suggestions for discussion, as a Provostial committee had done a few years earlier, and it was now time for others to choose whether to continue that discussion.
The President thanked Sen. Valentini for his comments, particularly their focus on the personal tone that the discussion of this important issue had taken on.
Sen. Eben Moglen (Ten., Law) said the Provost's letter was a sound and sophisticated analysis, particularly in its statement of four fundamental principles of the ad hoc system, and he agreed that any acceptable proposal must proceed from them. He allowed that any subsequent version of the Faculty Affairs proposal would be significantly different from the present one--that was the purpose of discussion. He said the Provost's submission, the Faculty Affairs hearing, and Prof. Bagnall's letter (with an unexpected diversity of views on the ad hoc system) were all valuable contributions to that conversation.
Sen. Moglen said he expected Faculty Affairs to introduce and to seek cosponsors for new legislation in the fall, drawing on all these contributions. He expected to cooperate with the Provost, by broadly endorsing the principles he had outlined, and to receive similar cooperation in return..
Sen. James Zetzel (Ten., CC) said the Faculty Affairs proposals perhaps raised more openings for grievances than they removed. They also seemed to imply that there is a right answer in tenure cases, and while that might be true in the sciences, he had found that in the 30 or 40 tenure reviews in the humanities in which he had made recommendations, he could have argued the other side in all but 10 percent of them. The difficulty of determining fairness in such cases makes flexibility an important virtue. Sen. Zetzel said he had serious reservations about the ad hoc system as a whole, although he understood that it seemed to work better in the sciences, and doubted that a uniform system across the University was fair. Finally, he said, the proposal seemed to focus the issue of tenure on the individual candidate, but tenure is more fundamentally a question for the institution.
Sen. Kroeber supported Sen. Valentini's statement of the issues, and hoped for further discussion leading to improvements. He identified a disturbing current trend that might help to explain the recent emergence of the tenure issue, which is never far from the surface in an institution like Columbia: a rapid commodification of the intellectual enterprise, and a tendency to solve financial problems by exploiting young scholars. While there were no easy answers, he thought it was a good time to discuss tenure in a less adversarial, more productive way.
Sen. Cole also regretted the tone that had entered the discussion of the Faculty Affairs proposal, and looked forward to continuing a dialogue to find ways to improve the tenure review system.
--Resolution Concerning Summer Powers: The Senate approved the resolution by voice vote.
--Resolution to Form an Ad Hoc Committee on Enlargement Oversight (Student Affairs). Sen. Josh Ratner (Stu., CC) said the basic goal of the resolution was to assure that current plans to enlarge Columbia College also enhance it. It would provide a forum for the public dissemination of information about the E & E initiative, and look out for any possible discrepancies between current realities in the College and the blueprint for
E & E in the Provost's 1996 report. He addressed a question he had been frequently asked: Why form an ad hoc Senate committee to address issues that the Arts and Sciences units might handle better by themselves? First, the centrality of the College in the University, which had been stressed by President Rupp and others, meant that what happens to the College affects the whole University. In addition, the Senate provides a more detached and impartial forum for the assessment of E & E. Furthermore, he said, standing Senate committees like Education and Budget Review are not as suited as an ad hoc committee to address particular E & E issues, such as classroom renovations.
He summarized five issues from the resolution's accompanying report:
1. How would the College divide the tuition revenue from the enlargement of the College with Arts and Sciences? The Columbia College Alumni Association had recently adopted a resolution calling for an investigation of this issue.
2. Some courses in the core curriculum are handling E & E well, but others are not, especially art and music humanities, where the ratio of professors to graduate student instructors in the teaching staff is farthest from the guidelines.
3. How will the current condition and supply of classrooms accommodate additional students expected in the near future, particularly with significant enlargement plans under way for both Barnard and the Engineering School?
4. Academic advising at Columbia College has long been criticized, but current financial limitations had led to the development of a cheaper, more impersonal system, in which students make contact with professors through the world wide web.
5. Students have been raising concerns all year about E & E; an ad hoc monitoring committee could address these.
At the President's request, Sen. Ratner reviewed the revisions he had made in the latest version of the resolution, handed out at the door: he toned down the rhetoric, called for meetings every two months rather than every month, and made participation requirements more flexible for senior administrators.
Sen. Cole asked for the substitution of the phrase "enlargement and enhancement" for the word "enlargement" throughout the resolution. He doubted that the second "whereas" clause was necessary. He also assumed that discussions of enhancement would address a range of efforts, not only those derived from the enlargement of Columbia College.
Sen. David Cohen (Admin.), Vice President for Arts and Sciences, expressed reservations about an effort to oversee a single portion of the Arts and Sciences budget in detail without understanding the context of that entire budget. He also identified some assumptions of the resolution that concerned him: the idea of the College splitting the profits of enlargement with the Arts and Sciences, for example, did not reflect the spirit of the Arts and Sciences enterprise. He also said that while some enrollment in some core curriculum classes exceeded the limits, the average enrollment in those classes did not.
Sen. James Applegate (Ten., GSAS/NS) amplified Sen. Cohen's comments, suggesting that "enlargement" be deleted throughout the resolution and replaced with "enhancement." He said that a new ad hoc committee on enlargement would largely replicate the work of existing committees, but it could make a valuable contribution by focusing on global enhancement issues that other committees don't address.
Sen. Hamid Dabashi (Ten., CC) took exception, as a member of the College Committee on Instruction, to the resolution's negative characterization of the College's new advising system..
Sen. Ratner accepted Sen. Cole's suggestion to use "enlargement and enhancement" in place of "enlargement." On enrollments in core classes, he reported the findings of the chair of the Art Humanities program that enrollment in 13 of its 25 sections during the previous year was above the registrar's limit. As for the advising system, he said he had meant no disrespect, but was simply reporting student sentiment at a recent student council meeting.
Sen. Kofi Anku (Stu., CC) spoke briefly in favor of the resolution.
Sen. Ferrante said that students, concerned about the consequences of increases in their numbers, had raised an issue that was important to faculty as well. She suggested that a joint effort with Faculty Affairs might make sense if the resolution were to fall short of passage.
Sen. Henry Pinkham (Ten., GS) said that nothing he had heard in the discussion convinced him that these issues should be addressed outside the Arts and Sciences. Sen. Applegate said that Arts and Sciences committees have had difficulty considering graduate and undergraduate education together, and that the Senate structure might be well suited to this task.
Sen. Cole said he supported the idea of student involvement in the study of enhancement, but added that he thought the proper location for the assessment of E & E for the College was within the Arts and Sciences, and therefore he opposed the resolution.
Sen. Zetzel said he had expected to agree that the issue was strictly a matter for Arts and Sciences, but after listening to the discussion had come to think that the study of enlargement and enhancement together might indeed be appropriate for a Senate-based committee. Issues of space and time, involving the use and scheduling of classrooms, needed to be addressed in a new way.
The President put the resolution to a voice vote. It passed, with a few nays.
--Resolution to Establish a Master of Arts Program in Slavic Cultures. Sen. Letty Moss-Salentijn (Ten., SDOS), the chair, said the committee had cleaned up the language of the resolution, which had raised questions at the previous meeting. The Senate approved the resolution by voice vote without dissent.
--Resolution to Establish a Master of Arts Program in Romance Languages. Approved by voice vote without dissent.
--Resolution to Establish a Master of Arts and Program in Critical and Curatorial Studies. Sen. Zetzel asked for the addition of the words "in Modern Art and Architecture" to the title of the program, since there were already other curatorial programs at the University. Sen. Moss-Salentijn accepted the suggestion as a friendly amendment. The Senate approved the amended resolution by voice vote without dissent.
There being no further business, the President adjourned the meeting at around 3 pm.
Tom Mathewson, Senate Staff