University Senate Proposed: December 13, 1996

Adopted:

 

MEETING OF NOVEMBER 22, 1996

President George Rupp, the chairman, called the Senate to order at 1:15 p.m. in the Schapiro Engineering Auditorium. Fifty-nine of 88 voting members were present during the meeting.

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

2. Adoption of the minutes (Exb. 2): The minutes of the meeting of October 25 were adopted as proposed.

3. Old business:

--An Act for the Improvement of Grievance Investigations by the Faculty Affairs Committee (Exb. 3): Asked to report by the President, Sen. Eben Moglen (Ten., Law), chairman of Faculty Affairs, announced that an agreement had been reached with the Provost's Office, after complex negotiations, on all the major points that had prompted Faculty Affairs to introduce legislation a month before. He thanked Sen. Jonathan Cole (Admin.) and Vice Provost Stephen Rittenberg for their dedication to working out an arrangement of great value to the faculty, the administration, and the Senate.

Sen. Moglen called attention to two documents that had been distributed at the door: the final version of the act, and "Proposed Guidelines Governing the Grievance Process and the Release of Confidential Information." The latter, he said, made two main changes: Faculty Affairs had agreed to time limits for the submission and processing of grievances, and the Provost had agreed to provide access, through interviews with himself or other senior administrators, to information relevant to factual disputes about ad hoc committees. Those interviews could include, where relevant, the description (though not the release) of confidential documents, as well as the identities of members of ad hoc committees.

Sen. Moglen said these guidelines were the basis of the statutory amendments in the legislation now before the Senate, which was somewhat different from the version presented in October. He noted that the committee had withdrawn the provision for independent counsel for Faculty Affairs, believing that discussions with the incoming general counsel early in 1997 might make such legislation unnecessary. Another late revision was in the proposed sentence amending Section 73 of the Statutes. In the final version, Faculty Affairs "shall have access to information relevant in grievance investigations, pursuant to guidelines for such access as agreed upon between the Committee and the Provost." A final revision in the legislation was an additional statutory change proposed by the Provost, a new sentence in Section 71b that would allow the President to stop the clock in order to prevent de facto tenure from accruing while a grievance is pending.

Sen. Moglen said the agreement was an extraordinarily positive development that would help the committee to do its job of serving the faculty, by providing a slightly enhanced degree of accountability for tenure decisions.

The President raised the issue of the kind of majority needed for Senate passage of legislation of this kind. He noted the parliamentarian's opinion, expressed at the October meeting and since then in writing, that a three-fifths majority of all incumbent senators was required for the Faculty Affairs act, as well as the memo of Sen. Paul Duby (Ten., SEAS), available at the door of the present meeting, that the act required only a simple majority. Noting that widespread agreement seemed to have been reached on the specific issue of changing grievance procedures, he proposed avoiding a parliamentary wrangle by suspending normal rules and having a voice vote. The alternative, he said, would be extended debate and head counting. Not hearing any objections, he understood that the rules had been suspended, and that after any remaining questions, there would be a voice vote.

Sen. Gerald Appel (Ten., HS) asked how and when the question of the kind of majority required for passage of statutory amendments would be addressed, if not at the present meeting. The President said that the Senate By-laws make clear that a substantial change in the authority of a committee requires a three-fifths majority. The question was whether the present statutory amendments imply a substantial change. Settling that issue for the present case would not help settle future cases, which would offer different circumstances. It was therefore fruitless, he said, to devote a lot of time to debating the present case.

Sen. Michael Mauel (Ten., SEAS) asked the Provost to comment on the agreement. Sen. Cole said both sides had addressed difficult issues with great seriousness, and had reached a good compromise solution, which he supported fully. He noted that there is faculty governance of tenure and ad hocs, and that it is important to protect their interests, finding an appropriate balance between tenure review and grievance procedures.

The President called for a voice vote. The act passed without dissent.

4. Report of the President: The President reported that Prof. Lisa Anderson, chair of the political science department, had been appointed dean of the School of International and Public Affairs after an aggressive and wide-ranging search.

Reports on research funding in the first quarter were encouraging. An extrapolation of these data for the year suggests an overall increase in federal research support of 6 percent, with Health Sciences up 4 percent, Engineering up 6 percent, Social Work up 28 percent (a particularly significant jump, from a base of $4 million in grants, a large number for a social work school), Biological Sciences up 21 percent, and Lamont-Doherty up 23 percent.

The Business School had been fully reaccredited. An accreditation visit to the Law School had also just been completed, with high praise for progress the school had made in the last three years.

Columbia was on the verge of finalizing a physicians' alliance with Cornell, an important step for both medical schools in New York's highly competitive managed-care market in a time of rapid consolidation of hospitals.

Early returns on applications to Columbia were good, especially for early decision, which were up 30 percent in Engineering, and up 16 percent in the College.

The hardest issue in the University's current budget deliberations was the transition in the financing of Ph.D. tuition, from the socialized approach of a charge to the fringe benefits pool to the kind of direct charge that the federal government now requires.

Finally, the President noted a small number of highly visible recent crimes in and around the campus. He emphasized that even a small increase in crime required a serious response from the University. He said that four arrests had been made, three in connection with recent muggings and one for rape. And Columbia had taken the following additional steps: securing additional new police cars and given some used cars to the Morningside Area Alliance; posting guards at 116th Street and Amsterdam and the John Jay gate 24 hours a day; adding new patrol routes near campus; and commissioning former NYPD commissioner Robert McGuire to review Columbia Security and the Morningside Area Alliance.

Sen. Josh Ratner (Stu., CC) reported student complaints about the maintenance of equipment in the newly renovated Dodge Physical Fitness Center, and about the condition of the downstairs bathrooms in Butler Library, particularly at the end of the term.

The President also answered questions on security from Senators Appel, Anne Prescott (Fac., Barn.), and Katherine Almquist (Stu., GSAS/Hum.), as well as Janine Collette (Stu. Obs., UTS).

Report of the Executive Committee Chairman: Sen. Karl Kroeber (Ten., GS) noted that the atmosphere at the last Executive Committee meeting was quite different from that of the previous month, reflecting the start of the spirit of cooperation that eventually produced the agreement on grievance procedures. He added that this was an important piece of legislation, whose passage showed that the Senate didn't need big floor fights to be effective. He sketched other business that would likely be on the Senate docket, including an initiative on changing ad hoc procedures, and another on Section 75 of the Statutes.

Sen. Moglen clarified this point, explaining that Section 75, part of the Code of Academic Freedom and Tenure, provides for a formal hearing process, with faculty judges, mainly for cases of dismissal of tenured faculty for cause, or dismissal of faculty with term appointments before the end of their terms. But Section 73 also allows Faculty Affairs to call for such hearings for some grievants in tenure cases, though the committee had never exercised that power. The Provost wanted to see the grievance process detached from the hearing process described in 75. Sen. Moglen said his committee would take up this question and make a recommendation to the Senate. He also said he agreed with the Provost that it would be a good idea to undertake a review of the entire Code of Academic Freedom, which has a number of unclear passages; but no schedule had been set for that project.

Sen. Kroeber said he hoped for a structured discussion at the December meeting of major budgetary issues. Right after that meeting, he said, the Senate staff would have a holiday open house for current and former senators and staff members.

Nominations to committees:

Tenured: Edward Malefakis replaced Ray Horton on Budget Review.

Students: Jim Felakos and Doug Black, Sahir Khan on Rules; Brett Busby on Structure and Operations; Sahir Khan on Physical Development; Sharon Douglas replaced Montimer Mason on the Commission on the Status of Women.

New business:

Report from Student Affairs: Sen. Montimer Mason (Stu., GSAS), the chair, said Student Affairs was working on three main issues:

--Ethnic studies: the committee was seeking the views of students who dissent from the current direction of ethnic studies deliberations, and hoped to hear from these students at its next meeting.

--Enhancement of Columbia College: the committee was studying student concerns about the enlargement of the College, particularly its speed, the impact of the heavy construction activity on the campus environment, and the accessibility of faculty with increases in class sizes.

--Faculty leave policy: the committee was looking into complaints that large numbers of faculty were on leave from various departments, with a view to getting a clarification of University policy on this issue.

There being no further business, the chairman adjourned the meeting shortly after 2 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

 

Tom Mathewson, Senate Staff