University Senate Proposed: November 22, 1996

Adopted:

 

MEETING OF OCTOBER 25, 1996

President George Rupp, the chairman, called the Senate to order at 1:15 p.m. in Schapiro Engineering Auditorium. Fifty-nine of 83 voting members were present during the meeting.

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

2. Adoption of the September minutes (Exb. 2): Sen. Joan Ferrante (GS, Ten.) asked for the deletion of the phrase "after brief discussion" in the section on the resolution to add a librarian to the Budget Review and Executive committees, because in the rush to vote while a three-fifths majority of incumbent senators was still present, there had been no discussion of this issue, despite her wish to speak in support of adding a librarian to Budget Review.

Sen. John Masten (Admin.) provided some background for budget numbers that Sen. James Zetzel (CC, Ten.) had presented at the previous meeting:

--The 2.8 percent growth of the Arts and Sciences faculty salary pool in 1995-96 (not 2 percent, as recorded in the minutes) reflected all salary categories, including part-time faculty; the growth was actually 4.3 percent for tenured and 4 percent for nontenured faculty. --The 7 percent growth in "other" central administration salaries was concentrated in three key areas: the Vice Provost's initiatives to bolster Columbia's patent and research income; health services; and Academic Computing and Information Services. Without these three categories, "other" central administrative salary growth was about 4 percent. Overall growth in central administrative spending, excluding the Libraries and debt service, was 2-3 percent.

--The 2 percent decline since 1987-88 in instructional salaries as a share of the total "Morningside budget" (a global figure for Morningside schools excluding the central administration) should be understood in the context of sharp increases in fringe benefit spending, which leave total instructional compensation almost constant over that period as a share of the budget. The 1.5 percent increase in school administrative salaries as a share of that total was partly attributable to the transfer of some central functions (in admissions and financial aid, for example) to schools.

Sen. Zetzel supported Sen. Masten's account of restraint in administrative growth, noting that overall total salary expenses had dropped by 1 percent in the past two years while salary expenses in Morningside schools had risen. But he repeated the concern he had expressed in September--that the 7 percent growth in "other" central administration salaries, which comprise as much as 38 percent of total central administration salaries, had occurred in areas far removed from day-to-day educational operations. He also repeated that the relatively slow growth of the Arts and Science faculty salary pool was significant, given the administration's express desire to enhance undergraduate education.

The President replied that two central administrative operations in the "other" category that had required substantial recent investments and that might seem remote from academic programs were Academic Computing, whose benefits to student and faculty should be clear, and Columbia Innovation Enterprise, which had collected annual revenues for the University from intellectual discoveries that had risen from $25 million to nearly $50 million in the last two years--income that would go back into education and research.

The minutes were approved as amplified.

3. Report of the President: The omnibus appropriation bill, which Congress passed shortly after the September meeting, showed the short-term benefits of an election year, with generous but probably short-lived improvements in research and student aid. All budget projections for the out years still portend significant downsizing, including greater reductions to compensate for this year's largesse.

The movie that had been filmed on campus the previous spring, "The Mirror Has Two Faces," starring Barbra Streisand, would be released on November 15.

Sen. Eben Moglen (Ten., Law) asked for comment on a report that the President had discharged the General Counsel after the last Trustees' meeting, and that a search committee was close to selecting a new one. The President replied that the General Counsel, Elizabeth Head, would complete her service at the end of 1996, and that a search was underway to replace her; but it was not true that he had discharged her at or after the Trustees' meeting, although he and Mrs. Head had jointly announced the change at the meeting.

4. Nominations to committees: Sen. Karl Kroeber (Ten., GS), chairman of the Executive Committee, submitted the following changes in committee assignments: Prof. Duby on Budget Review; Michael Mauel off Budget Review; Edward Malefakis off Faculty Affairs and on Honors and Prizes. There was no objection.

5. Report of the Executive Committee Chairman: Sen. Kroeber reported on the main business of the October 17 Executive Committee meeting, the Faculty Affairs resolution that was now before the Senate. The tenured faculty caucus had discussed the measure, with some division of opinion, but with unanimous support for bringing the measure to the Senate for discussion. On October 18 the Provost said he had remembered that he had a longstanding speaking commitment at Brown on October 25, the day of the Senate meeting, and asked for a postponement of a vote until November.

Sen. Kroeber said the situation had put him in an awkward position: he was pleased to accommodate the Provost but he also recalled the intense, largely just criticism from the previous spring that the Senate was ineffective. One complaint was that the Executive Committee blocks resolutions on their way to the Senate floor. He said he had worked hard since the spring to improve Senate procedures. After consulting with other senators, he and Prof. Moglen had agreed to the Provost's request for postponement, with the understanding that there would be preliminary discussion of the resolution in October, and it would be added near the top of the agenda for action in November.

Sen. Kroeber then announced that the President, sitting beside him, had just said that he did not think discussion at the present meeting was appropriate. Sen. Kroeber asked for permission, in that case, to proceed with background remarks he had been asked to make about the recent history of faculty grievance investigations.

The President said it made little sense to begin discussion of a serious matter without the Provost, the person most familiar with the ad hoc process, and then repeat the discussion a month later. But he said he had no objection if Sen. Kroeber had other reasons to speak now.

Sen. Ferrante pointed out that the Senate had already adopted the agenda for the present meeting, and asked whether it was appropriate to change it now. She thought it would be helpful to give senators a chance to ask questions about the proposal. The President replied that since the person most qualified to answer questions about how the tenure review process works was absent, it was an odd time to try to clarify the process. But he said that he was not ruling that discussion was not allowed.

Sen. Eugene Litwak (Sen., GSAS\SS) said he would welcome a clarification of the issues, so that senators could think about them and discuss them more reasonably next time.

Reports from committee chairs:

--Libraries: Sen. David Simpson (Ten., GSAS/H), the newly elected chair, said that the Libraries and ACIS were receiving an external review during the present academic year, and suggested that complaints and criticisms might get a better hearing as a result. He invited senators to offer their comments before preparations for the review gear up in January.

--External Relations: Sen. Edgar Housepian (Ten., HS) said the committee would report later on about its main business for the year--intercampus communications.

--Physical Development: Sen. Brigitta Payne (Admin. Stf., HS) outlined in detail the topics the committee would cover at its meetings throughout the year. Sen. Joshua Ratner (Stu., CC) reported on the October meeting of the Trustee Committee on Buildings and Grounds.

--Alumni Relations: Sen. Arthur Graham (Alum.) said the committee would be seeking ways to help faculty and students, would meet with alumni from other committees, and would consider whether to reintroduce its measure to add an alumnus to the Executive Committee.He also reported on the October meeting of the Trustees' Alumni Affairs Committee, which had considered the need for a Columbia Club facility in New York City.

--Education subcommittee on ethnic studies: Sen. Ferrante, the chair, announced the subcommittee's first public hearing, scheduled for November 7. It would feature five faculty members in the field of ethnic studies, who would talk about their discipline.

6. New business:

--An Act for the Improvement of Grievance Investigations by the Faculty Affairs Committee (Exb. 3). Sen. Moglen introduced the act, which he said had been unanimously endorsed by Faculty Affairs. He proposed to avoid repetition of arguments on the subject by addressing certain objections right away. One objection was that the act would result in a major change of tenure review policy. In fact, he said, it would result in modest procedural changes in grievance investigations which would enable Faculty Affairs to do the job that Section 73 of the Statutes (distributed at the door, Exb. 4) requires the committee to do. A second objection was that the act would destroy the confidentiality of the ad hoc process.

The President interrupted Sen. Moglen to object that his remarks, rebutting arguments that might be made at a later meeting, raised the problem of repetition. Sen. Moglen asked the parliamentarian if his speech was out of order. The parliamentarian said that a suggestion had been made that the process might be smoother if it were handled in a different way. Sen. Moglen said the only problems with the process resulted from the level of resistance to the Faculty Affairs legislation. But he said that if there were no questions he would say no more.

Sen. Kroeber's remarks: Sen. Kroeber reviewed the history of Faculty Affairs grievance investigations during his service on the committee over the last two decades. He said that although its mandate authorizes Faculty Affairs to bring unresolved grievances to the floor of the Senate, he could not recall a single case in which the committee had ever done so. He said Faculty Affairs members are chosen from the full spectrum of Columbia schools. The committee rejected a large majority of the grievances it investigated; in the rare cases where the committee found for the grievant, its recommendations were generally accepted.

Typically, he said, a subcommittee of two or three is formed to investigate grievances. Subcommittees work in confidence and share with the full committee only what is absolutely necessary to make a judgment. Sen. Kroeber said that the confidentiality of Faculty Affairs deliberations had been far better preserved over the last 25 years than that of ad hoc committees. He said the grievance process had worked well until the last few years. He concluded that except for members from the Law School, which does not use the ad hoc system, the overwhelming majority of committee members have supported that system.

Sen. Michael Mauel (Ten., SEAS) asked what kind of majority would be needed to pass the Faculty Affairs statute. The parliamentarian said he would rule that the measure needed a three-fifths majority of all incumbent senators.

There being no further business, the President adjourned the meeting at 2:05 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

 

Tom Mathewson, Senate Staff