University Senate Proposed: March 28, 1997

Adopted:

 

MEETING OF FEBRUARY 21, 1997

 

President George Rupp, the chairman, called the Senate to order shortly after 1:15 p.m. in the Schapiro Engineering Auditorium.

Adoption of the agenda (Exb. 1): The agenda was adopted as proposed.

Adoption of the minutes (Exb. 2): The minutes of January 31 were adopted as proposed.

President's report: The President announced the appointment of a new General Counsel, Elizabeth Keefer.

He also discussed the report of the President's Advisory Committee on Ethnic Studies, chaired by Prof. Ira Katznelson, which senators had received in their packets. He had also sent it to the deans of the three undergraduate divisions and their committees on instruction, to Vice President for Arts and Sciences David Cohen for distribution to the Arts and Sciences department chairs and Arts and Sciences faculty executive committee, and the Columbia homepage on the Web.

One of the report's recommendations was to carry out an audit of courses and other resources already extant on campus in subjects associated with ethnic studies. Vice President Cohen would be completing that task.

The President also anticipated Senate discussion of a report on ethnic studies from the Senate Education Committee.

The President called the Katznelson report thoughtful and serious, a result of diligent effort by some of Columbia's best minds. The crucial issue, he said, would be to make sure that implementation avoids duplication of what Columbia already has. Overall, he said, the report was very helpful in making two points on which he thought there was broad agreement: that over time Columbia needs more resources in African-American, Latino, and Asian-American studies; and that expanded offerings in these subjects need to be articulated with, coherent with, the rest of the curriculum, a requirement incompatible with the idea of a separate department of ethnic studies. Even with these broad areas of agreement, important issues of implementation remain, to be discussed in the Senate and elsewhere during the spring term.

The President also made the following announcements:

--Columbia University's suit against the health care corporation Columbia HCA, alleging abuse of the University's good name, had been tried. The University was cautiously optimistic about the ruling, which could come at any time.

--The University's operating budget would again be tight, and would require difficult choices, as cost increases would have to be kept in line with the cost of living, and with Columbia's revenue streams.

--There had been a positive article on the new scholarly bookstore in the Times by Janny Scott, and positive coverage in several papers of Columbia admissions.

Sen. Karl Kroeber (Ten., GS) asked about a New York State policy that seems to discourage the training of doctors. The President said there were two policy alternatives for adjusting the supply of doctors to fit demand: restricting admissions to medical schools, and restricting hospital residencies. The latter was the preferable alternative: some 16,000 students graduate from U.S. medical schools a year, while 25,000 a year are going into residencies. But since hospitals depend on the relatively low-cost medical care that residents provide, reducing the role of residents cannot be done too abruptly. The purpose of state payments to hospitals that reduce the number of residencies is to help them with this transition. Reducing residencies will place greater pressure on the medical schools in their placement efforts; in general, though, P&S would not feel this pressure as strongly as other medical schools because of the quality of its student body.

Sen. Josh Ratner (Stu., CC) asked if there was a timeline for the implementation of the recommendations on ethnic studies. The President said there was broad agreement among the administrators involved to move as expeditiously as possible, but it was crucial to have everyone on board, including faculty bodies. He hoped there could be agreement this spring on the long-term direction the University should be taking.

Report of the Executive Committee Chairman: Sen. Kroeber invited senators to provide suggestions for focusing the discussion of ethnic studies at the March meeting, to make it as useful as possible, particularly in view of the press of other business.

--Nominations to committees (Exb. 3): Sen. Kroeber advanced the three committee nominations. They were approved.

The main topics at the February 17 Executive Committee meeting were a resolution to amend Section 73 of the Statutes, which Faculty Affairs would report on later in the meeting, and a resolution to recognize the Earth Institute.

Sen. Kroeber briefly reviewed Senate deliberations about the Earth Institute. The resolution now before the Senate had come from the Education Committee, had been discussed in a meeting of the Senate faculty caucuses, and had been well received in the Executive Committee, which had become a co-sponsor, though that had not been written on the resolution. After the Executive Committee meeting Sen. Kroeber and some other faculty senators had met with Dr. Peter Eisenberger, Vice Provost for the Earth Institute. At the end of that meeting Dr. Eisenberger said he was pleased with the Senate resolution. Since then he had begun preparing a detailed proposal for the Earth Institute for Senate action later on.

Sen. Kroeber observed that the Earth Institute was not an entirely brand-new phenomenon, but a group of initiatives building on strong programs in earth and environmental sciences already at Columbia. He warned that such an effort would inevitably create tensions. For example, he said, Dr. Eisenberger envisions a building on the Morningside campus for the Earth Institute, a major commitment in a time of tight budgets. Another source of tension would be competing demands on University faculty and staff resources. Such tensions would find expression in the Senate--appropriately, Sen. Kroeber said, since that body concerns itself with educational issues that go across schools, and since the Earth Institute is a multidisciplinary enterprise.

--Report from the Commission on the Status of Women (Exb. 4): Commission chair Amy Heinrich (Nonsen., Lib.) reported on the first of the Commission's planned series of colloquia on women in the academy, a panel of three women on the Columbia faculty, scheduled for February 26. She reminded the Senate of the goal of the series--to institute programmatic changes throughout Columbia, an effort she said would require the broadest possible participation. The panel at the second colloquium, on March 26, would report on new programs for women adopted at other institutions. The last colloquium would be a working group, including senior administrators, figuring out ways to implement the ideas that emerge during the series.

New business:

--Resolution to Establish the Columbia Earth Institute (Exb. 5): Sen. Letty Moss-Salentijn (Ten., SDOS), chair of Education, explained that the resolution recognized the Earth Institute as an institute in the sense spelled out in Chapter 32 of the University Statutes. The committee awaited a more detailed proposal asking for broader authority to establish degree programs and appoint faculty. Sen. Moss-Salentijn presented some changes in wording, mainly to include the idea of approval in the "resolved" clause.

Sen. Brett Busby (Stu., Law) asked how long the Earth Institute had been in existence. Sen. Cole said the name dated back to the previous summer, but the idea had evolved during the previous 3-5 years from the work of the Global Climate Change Initiative.

Sen. James Applegate (Ten., CC) emphasized that the intent of the Education Committee had been to recognize formally what already existed, and to review proposals for broader powers as Dr. Eisenberger produced them.

Dr. Eisenberger, a guest at the meeting, rose at the President's request. He said he would present more detailed recommendations in the coming weeks, and would welcome a substantive dialogue about the future of the Earth Institute.

Sen. Busby asked if Student Affairs could be involved in future in the "polishing" process that Sen. Kroeber had described for the Earth Institute resolution. Sen. Kroeber agreed.

The Senate approved the resolution by voice vote without dissent.

--Resolution to Amend Section 73 of the University Statutes (Exb. 6): Sen. Eben Moglen (Ten., Law), chairman of Faculty Affairs, explained that the resolution had been brought as part of the November agreement with the Provost on ad hoc grievance procedures. But on the morning of the present meeting he and the Provost had agreed that there was no need to bring the resolution at this point. Sen. Moglen asked to withdraw the resolution, and said he did not expect Faculty Affairs to bring it back in the near future.

Sen. Cole added that, upon reflection, he had decided that although Faculty Affairs had never in the course of a grievance procedure exercised its right to invoke the hearing procedure spelled out in Section 75 of the Statutes, there was no reason not to retain the provision as a reserve option.

The President understood that there was unanimous consent to withdraw the resolution.

There being no further business, he adjourned the meeting at around 2 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

 

Tom Mathewson, Senate Staff