University Senate Proposed: January 31, 1997

Adopted:

 

MEETING OF DECEMBER 13, 1996

President George Rupp, the chairman, called the Senate to order at 1:15 p.m. in the Schapiro Engineering Auditorium. Forty-two of 88 voting members were present. There was no quorum.

1. Adoption of the agenda (Exb. 1): Brief reports from the Education and Alumni Relations committees were added to the agenda, which was then adopted.

2. Adoption of the minutes (Exb. 2): The minutes of the meeting of November 22 were adopted as proposed.

3. President's report: The President announced that Tom Goldstein, a widely experienced reporter and educator, would become dean of the Journalism School on July 1, 1997, succeeding Joan Konner.

The search for a new general counsel was proceeding. The President praised the outgoing general counsel, Sen. Elizabeth Head, for seven and a half years of effective service, and led the Senate in a round of applause.

The statutory amendments governing faculty grievance procedures passed by the Senate in November had been presented to the Trustees at their December meeting, the first of two such meetings required before such measures can take effect.

Columbia would complete another record fund-raising year.

The President deferred comment on budget issues to be addressed by the Budget Review Committee later in the meeting. But he called attention to growth rates in school budgets at Columbia, some of which he said were unsustainably high and required aggressive monitoring.

The President noted another trend: the tightening of the New York rental housing market, with a possible future shortage of housing for Columbia graduate students.

Report of the Executive Committee Chairman: The chairman, Sen. Karl Kroeber (Ten., GS) reported briefly on the last Executive Committee meeting and asked for reports from senators who had attended December Trustee committee meetings. There were brief reports from Senators Arthur Graham (Alum.) for Alumni Relations, Ben Gardner (CC, Stu.) for Education, Josh Ratner (CC, Stu.) for Physical Development, and David Yerkes (Ten., GS) for Budget Review.

Sen. Kroeber noted an item in the December 6 Chronicle of Higher Education on the Senate's November legislation on faculty grievance procedures, briefly reviewed the work of various Senate committees, and invited everyone to the holiday party at the Senate Office after the present meeting.

New business: Committee reports:

A) Education: Sen. Letty Moss-Salentijn (Ten., SDOS), the chair, reported that Education, at its meeting on October 11, had approved a proposal to merge the Harriman Institute and the Institute on East Central Europe. Since the proposal involved minimal curricular changes, the committee had thought the present report to the Senate might suffice in place of a Senate resolution.

B) Commission on the Status of Women: Amy Heinrich (Nonsen. Lib.), the chair, reported that the Commission was working with Associate Vice Provost Raphael Kasper on a series of spring colloquia: the first would feature speakers from Columbia on obstacles women face here; at the second, speakers from other institutions would talk about some of their programs to assist women; the third, a day-long planning session, would prepare specific programs for Columbia next year. The Commission was optimistic that the series would be supported by the Sloan Foundation, which hoped to start initiatives in some "high profile" institutions in mentoring, flexible work schedules, and spouse employment assistance.

A new committee on salary equity and promotions, chaired by Prof. Ichniowski of the Business School, had taken over the work that a provostial committee had begun the previous year. It was focusing on officers of research, instruction and libraries on the Morningside campus, and hoped to report early in 1997. Another committee was being formed to study academic officers at Health Sciences, and a third would consider officers of administration.

C) Alumni Relations: Sen. Graham reported on the committee's interest in the possibility of e-mail accounts for all alumni.

D) Budget Review: Sen. James Zetzel (Ten., CC), the chairman, elaborated on a report (Exb. 3) that had been distributed at the door. He said he had resolved, for the sake of clarity, to include as few numbers as possible. He began by stressing that there is no pot of gold--that Columbia's less affluent student body and its location in New York City impose inescapable budgetary limits on its aspirations. This awareness, he said, should inform discussion about the report.

The need for massive capital expenditures to reverse the years of decay suffered by the physical plant in the 1970s is understood, Sen. Zetzel said, along with the need for major borrowing to finance the restoration. But there must be an effort, involving broad discussion, to decide on the proper balance between capital needs and educational priorities.

Graduate tuition is a more immediate problem, Sen. Zetzel said, since it will no longer be allowed as a fringe benefit in September 1997. Although the Provost had been working on this problem for five years, Arts and Sciences had not developed a workable transitional plan to address it until the present month. The plan, relying on $4 million in fringe savings from the central administration and other Morningside schools, involves an increase in unfunded (primarily M.A.) students and a decrease in funded (primarily Ph.D.) students. This feature of the plan drew considerable opposition at the December 10 Arts and Sciences faculty meeting. Sen. Zetzel thought the plan for a smaller, better-funded graduate program had a reasonable chance of working for the next year. But he called for much wider debate, in the Senate and elsewhere, on the following questions:

--The first plan to address the tuition exemption problem, proposed by the Graduate School in the spring of 1996, relied on unrealistically large numbers of unfunded students, and was simply unworkable. Why, when the problem was approaching for five years, was GSAS left on its own to run into a brick wall?

--What effect will the reduction of funded graduate students in the Humanities and Social Sciences have on undergraduate teaching, and on the enlargement plan in general?

--Sen. Zetzel said he had no objection in principle to new interdepartmental M.A. programs, which figure essentially in the new plan, but how would they be taught and by whom?

--What costs within a single school should be socialized, or borne by the University as a whole? What are the limits of the Full Responsibility Model, which requires schools to balance their own budgets by maximizing revenues and reducing expenses? Does it make sense to apply this model in this case, in which the University's reliance for 40 years on its anomalous arrangement for tuition exemption had distorted the pattern of education?

Finally, Sen. Zetzel noted a paradox in the evolution of financial planning at Columbia: While John Masten and Jon Rosenhein had made the budget far clearer and more comprehensible, their conscientious efforts had also isolated financial issues from educational ones. He said it was strange that he was the only faculty member on the main University budget committee, whose members also do not include the deans of the College and GSAS.

Sen Zetzel said the Provost's reports on College enhancement were models of clarity, but were presented too late to allow for useful debate. He said he would like to see more discussion of the educational consequences of budgetary decisions, addressing such basic questions as, How many graduate students does it cost to borrow $1 million for a capital plan? Sen. Zetzel concluded by asking how the Senate should organize itself to weigh the relative merits of these priorities.

Sen. Eduardo Macagno (Admin.), dean of GSAS, said he had devoted a lot of discussion to tuition exemption since becoming dean three and a half years ago, but Arts and Sciences had other budget problems that had to be solved first, and up until the previous spring the administration had hoped the present arrangement for graduate tuition could be retained.

President Rupp elaborated on this point, saying that M.I.T., Caltech, Stanford and Columbia had made a concerted effort to convince the federal government that it would cost less to retain what was now an anomalous arrangement benefiting these four schools but to make it available to all institutions. The lobbying campaign had secured the active support of leaders of the National Science Foundations, the National Institutes of Health, the Office on Naval Research, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, as well as Vice President Al Gore. For the Office of Management and Budget, it was important that the same policy apply to everyone. After he and Columbia Vice President for Public Affairs Alan Stone had met with OMB director Alice Rivlin in the spring of 1996, President Rupp had been extremely optimistic. Then Alice Rivlin left OMB for the Federal Reserve Board.

The President said he offered these details to show that the Columbia administration was doing more than wishful thinking on this problem. It was also important not to have a transition plan too far along, he said, in order to maintain the credibility of the University's argument. For these reasons, this issue was deliberately put further back in the queue of A&S budget problems.

Dean Macagno resumed his remarks, saying that GSAS had maintained the principle of preserving commitments to students already here, and tried to solve the budget problem by managing the inflow of students. The first, admittedly unworkable plan, presented in the spring of 1996, called for retaining a large school, and was much too expensive. It was put out purposefully to show the of the problem under present arrangements. Referring to handouts that had been distributed at the door (Exb. 4) and had been shown on slides to the A&S faculty on December 10, he pointed out a downward trend over 6 years in the incoming GSAS population, with fluctuations. There had been an attempt to reduce the number of unfunded Ph.D. students, since the best students would not come without funding. At the same time, the number of unfunded M.A. students was rising, but not proportionately. The number of funded Ph.D. student was flat, with a slight decline. GSAS was trying to raise its quality by funding at a better rate. He noted that advanced students were better funded now than ten years ago.

On the question of the number of graduate students available to teach in an enlarged College, Dean Macagno said there are still numerous unfunded or underfunded advanced students who would be good teachers, if GSAS could pay them. One purpose of reducing the size of the school was to direct funds to these students. The questions was, How could GSAS bring in superb students, even without funding at the start, who could later be excellent teachers?

On the paying M.A. programs, he said he would prefer to depend less on tuition, but reducing the proportion of tuition revenue from one group requires raising it elsewhere. He said it was necessary, in accordance with Columbia's educational mission, to design good M.A. programs and attract good students. Such programs were not the be-all and the end-all, but solutions along the lines of what GSAS could do, which is to teach.

Dean Macagno concluded that Sen. Zetzel's report had raised important issues, which he said the administration had been working on, without yet having all the solutions.

Sen. William Menke (Ten., GSAS/NS) asked what Sen. Zetzel had meant by "distortion" in describing the effect of the present funding arrangement, and what that had to do with the numbers of graduate students admitted here or elsewhere. Sen. Zetzel replied that as a department chairman he had seen the incentive to appoint students as T.A.'s whenever possible to carry tuition exemption because that was good for the budget. And some departments base their size projections--and admissions decisions--on the number of student teaching appointments they can make.

Dean Macagno noted that Columbia's graduate school is much bigger than those of most its peers, except for the University of Chicago's, which is nearly as large. He mentioned Penn as an example of a school that had reduced its graduate student body in recent years.

In answer to a question from Sen. Brigitta Payne (Ad. Stf.) the President said Columbia was expressing the importance of graduate tuition to the whole institution by recapturing the savings resulting from the elimination of graduate tuition as a fringe benefit, taking that money from the central administration and other schools on the Morningside campus and reallocating it to graduate tuition.

In response to a question from Sen. Katherine Almquist (Stu., GSAS/Hum.), Sen. Zetzel said no two departments, in planning their programs, have the same educational or budgetary needs. Dean Macagno said Columbia's intellectually rich environment offered numerous opportunities for interdepartmental M.A. programs.

The President said the University has to keep an eye not only on issues of educational scale, department by department, and on the cost of graduate programs, but also on the academic labor market five to seven years out. These three considerations have led to plans for a graduate school that is somewhat smaller, better funded, and with higher-quality programs than now. Over 40 years, he said, Columbia had become dependent on unfunded Ph.D. students of a lower quality than the University would like, struggling to pay their way, with no certainty of jobs at the end of the process. The University's goal, at least during his during his three and a half years here, had been to recalibrate the balance between graduate and undergraduate education. The ratio of undergraduate to graduate students would go up, in a complicated set of transitions that Columbia was now working through.

Sen. Eugene Litwak (Ten., GSAS/SS) admitted to some confusion about the financial problems involved, and said he would appreciate more explanation. But he said that Columbia should take pride in having a large graduate school, which could do things other schools couldn't do. He said he would like to reopen the debate on the preferred size for the program, and said an alternative solution might be to have fewer universities involved in graduate education.

Sen. Zetzel said he was struck at the December 10 A&S meeting by the number of faculty who were unaware of the financial problems involved. He said he shared the President's concern about the job market, adding that it was morally incomprehensible to educate so many students in programs with no jobs at the end. Unfunded students are going $150,000 into debt for a possible $35,000-a-year academic job. He said he would prefer to give up a good program than to bilk people out of that much money. Columbia had to have funded Ph.D. students, and therefore had to be smaller. He added that tuition exemption has masked a major change in the economics of graduate education: He had received $2,000 for tuition as a grad student in the '60s and a $2,500 stipend; now the proportions had been more than reversed--$20,000 for tuition and a $10,000 stipend.

Sen. Kroeber echoed Sen. Zetzel's praise for Columbia's budget administrators, and added his own thanks for Sen. Zetzel's report. He expressed disappointment that Senators David Cohen, Vice President for Arts and Sciences, and Austin Quigley, Columbia College Dean, were not at the meeting to answer questions he had prepared, so he read them aloud:

--How many sections of required undergraduate courses are taught by teaching assistants, or other non-regular faculty, and what is the effect on the courses?

--What are the educational principles guiding the policy of enhancing undergraduate education?

--What principles are guiding the reconfiguration of graduate and undergraduate teaching?

Sen. Kroeber called attention to the President's remark about unacceptable rates of growth in school budgets, which he said the President had linked in the Executive Committee to increases in faculty size. He asked that Vice President Cohen provide numbers of nontenured and tenured faculty in the Arts and Sciences for the last ten years.

The President explained that Sen. Cohen had missed this meeting to attend a long-delayed ad hoc committee meeting that could not be rescheduled. He added that it was not true that he had related increases in school expenditures to the size of the faculty.

Dean Macagno said that he and Deans Quigley of the College and Lindt of General Studies had been meeting to talk about articulation of their three programs and would be discussing these issues with each department.

There being no further business, the President adjourned the meeting at 2:40 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

 

Tom Mathewson, Senate staff