University Senate Proposed: December 12, 1997
MINUTES OF NOVEMBER 21, 1997
President George Rupp, the chairman, called the Senate to order shortly after 1:15 pm in the Schapiro Engineering auditorium. Thirty-four of 81 senators were present during the meeting. There was no quorum.
Minutes and agenda: The agenda and the minutes of the meeting of October 24 were adopted as proposed.
--The Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng, recently released, was now in New York, receiving medical and dental treatment at the Health Sciences campus, and might soon be living in Morningside Heights.
--A major study, "Columbia University and Morningside Heights: A Planning Framework," had been produced under the supervision of Sen. Emily Lloyd, Executive Vice President for Administration. In preparation for more than a year, it offered both an historical perspective and a framework for campus development and relations with the surrounding neighborhood in the future. Copies were available in the Senate office for people to come and read.
--The action plan developed by the Libraries and by Academic Computing and Information Systems (ACIS) to address problems raised in recent internal and external reviews would be released on November 24 and mailed to senators.
--Health care update: The Columbia and Cornell medical schools, which are among the few that own the practice plans of their faculty physicians, had formed a new, combined physician organization, Columbia Cornell Care, which will be the leading group of physicians in New York City. The two universities' affiliated teaching hospitals, Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center and New York Center, would also be merging by early 1998. These united organizations would be able to compete more effectively in the marketplace for managed-care services.
--Government affairs: Columbia was working with other universities in New York state on a joint statement of priorities for the coming legislative session in Albany. Meetings were being scheduled with the governor and legislative leaders in an effort to get Columbia's issues considered earlier in the session than in previous years.
In Washington, the appropriations process had ended quite favorably this year. The increase in the maximum Pell grant from $2700 to $3000 had been signed by the President. The news on research was also good, including a 7 percent increase in NIH funding and a 5 percent increase for NSF. Significant talk in Washington about doubling funding for basic research in the next five years was another encouraging sign.
--The President had received a letter addressed to University senators from the campus chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). It called for a Senate review of the research program of Columbia's Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA). A Senate resolution of December 1991, backed by a letter of agreement between President Michael Sovern and Joseph Califano, then director of the center, had approved the establishment of CASA. It called for a written report on the finances and the activities of CASA three years later from the Vice President for Health Sciences and the President of the University. Unaware of this provision, the President had not prepared such a report. He would seek the Executive Committee's advice on whether there should be a report now.
--The President showed brochures on the Passport to New York program, which were distributed.
--The Columbia Community Service appeal was under way. The program, now in its 51st year, supported several dozen community agencies. The annual drive raises about $200,000, but the participation rate was egregiously low, about 5 or 6 percent. The President appealed to senators for any help they could give in getting colleagues to donate.
Report of the Executive Committee chairman:
--Committees: The Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Enlargement would hold its first meeting on November 26. It consisted of two students, Josh Ratner and Ben Gardner; two faculty members: Ralph Holloway, representing the Education Committees, and Robert Jervis, representing Budget Review; Dean Quigley; Provost Cole or Vice President for Arts and Sciences David Cohen; and one alumnus, Peter Basilevsky.
A subcommittee of the Executive Committee would meet on November 25 to discuss nominations for next year's Senate-consulted Trustee. The members, besides Sen. Duby, were Senators Joan Ferrante, Eben Moglen, Josh Ratner, and Wayne Svoboda.
The President had appointed two tenured faculty members, Ian Bent (Music) and Jeff Gordon (Law), to the Housing Policy Committee. That committee would work with another presidential housing committee, an ad hoc committee formed the previous spring. The standing committee would report to the Senate, as it does every year.
--Sexual misconduct policy: The Executive Committee had appointed a subcommittee to conduct the three-year review of the policy on sexual misconduct that the Senate had adopted in April 1995. The members were Senators Brett Busby (Stu., Law), Leora Hanser (Stu., Barn.), Wayne Svoboda (Nonten., Journ.), Debra Wolgemuth (Ten., HS), and an attorney from the Office of the General Counsel to be appointed.
The first stage of the subcommittee's work would be information gathering on the implementation of the policy. There would likely be a report from Beth Wilson, Associate Provost for Affirmative Action.
--Sen. Duby deferred comment on the libraries hearing, till later in the meeting.
--There would be a modest holiday reception outside the auditorium after the December 12 Senate meeting.
Late changes in committee assignments: Sen. Duby announced that Stacy Reynolds (Stu., SDOS) would be moving from the Libraries Committee to External Relations; C.P. Krishnamurthy (Stu., SEAS) would join Libraries. The Senate approved these changes.
--External Relations: Sen. Eugene Litwak (Ten., GSAS/SS), the chairman, reported that during the previous year the committee had learned about some of Columbia's ties with the Harlem community, including its own program for assisting local businesses, its participation in the Urban Empowerment Zone, and the involvement of its medical staff in Harlem Hospital. The committee concluded that the present administration had taken a positive and foresightful approach to the local community. Sen. Litwak said his only criticism would be that that the administration might not have publicized these policies sufficiently for the faculty. He said that the committee was considering looking further into two local issues: child care and housing policy.
But the main purpose of his report, Sen. Litwak said, was to raise some questions about Columbia's national ranking in research. As Vice Provost for Research Michael Crow had pointed out in a recent lecture, Columbia was in the top ten in research dollars during the 1970s, but now it was about 35th. What were the implications for the University of such a drop? This decline was part of a widespread trend, affecting most private universities, but two exceptions, Stanford and MIT, were holding their own. Why? There was now a need for new ways to raise funds that involved the university in new relationships with business. What are the implications of these new ties, particularly for academic freedom?
Provost Cole offered what he called footnotes for the figures Sen. Litwak had provided. He said Columbia was 4th in the nation in NIH funding. Columbia's decline in the rankings was largely attributable to the growth in size of public universities; the per capita grant success of Columbia's scientists was among the best in the nation. Even in absolute numbers, Columbia's Lamont-Doherty observatory was the largest recipient of NSF funding in the nation. With this context in mind, he agreed with Sen. Litwak that these issues were worth discussing in the Senate.
In response to a question, President Rupp said Columbia had a full network of policies on licensing agreements from patents received by Columbia researchers. The University ranked second in the nation in patent income. There was also a series of policies governing how income from patents was to be divided among investigators, their departments, and the University as a whole.
--Libraries: Sen. Duby noted that Sen. William Harris, chairman of Libraries, was out of town. He said there had been a public hearing on November 18. The Senate office would prepare a transcript of the hearing, and there would be an article in the December 5 issue of the Record. Sen. Duby had also asked to have the November 19 Spectator article about the hearing distributed at the present meeting. He added that the difficulties the Libraries face are apparent, with limited resources owing partly to the Libraries' budgetary status as part of the administration. The expansion of ACIS during the same period made the problems of the Libraries more acute. Sen. Duby agreed with Sen. Harris that there should be as much discussion of the Libraries as possible, along with the action plan to be distributed on November 24, to find out what the university's priorities are, with finite resources. Sen. Duby expressed disappointment in the self-study the Libraries had produced during the previous year, which he said lacked serious discussion of the future of the libraries. He said he hoped the Senate would take up the action plan in detail in December, but he welcomed comments at the present meeting.
Sen. James Applegate (Ten., GSAS/NS) said that insufficient attention had been paid to the increasingly crucial role that ACIS would play in the communication of data available only on the internet that would be indispensable for scientific research at Columbia.
Sen. Eben Moglen (Ten., Law) asked if the action plan would address the strong recommendation in the external review that Columbia merge the management of voice and data telecommunications. Sen. Elaine Sloan, Vice President for Information Services, said the action plan would not address this recommendation.
Sen. Moglen went on to note that some senior scholars had said at the hearing that the action plan did not address the primary problems of the book or of staffing in the Libraries. He said the faculty would be called upon to decide this year whether it is satisfied with existing allocations of resources, not within the libraries, but with the grand macroeconomic allocation to the central facilities that make it possible for scholars to do
their work. He said that consideration of that question would not begin with the release of the action plan, but had been under way since May, when the external review had been distributed to the Libraries Committee. But it had been difficult to have the report made public since them. He said the Provost had convened yet another advisory committee to coopt some of those who might be supposed to criticize the response to the external review report. But no meeting of the advisory committee had been scheduled.
Sen. Moglen said it was time for faculty in the Senate to consider resolutions that would make clear the Senate's determination to reallocate resources in order to address long-existing problems--not the work of the present administration, nor necessarily of the one that preceded it. He said he would introduce legislation before the December Senate meeting to institute a faculty receivership for the libraries system. He said he would solicit support for such legislation in due course.
Sen. Cole objected that Sen. Moglen was urging senators to reach conclusions before the action plan had even come out. He pointed out that some external reports are not made public at all. He asked senators to read the report and to think about issues of allocation of resources and priorities. He said that allocating such resources was not strictly a zero-sum game, but was close to it. He also said it would make sense for the Senate to discuss the issues before considering legislation.
Sen. Josh Ratner (Stu., CC) asked if it would be possible to videotape Senate hearings. The President replied that that was an idea for the Executive Committee to consider. He also expressed doubt that it would be worth the expense.
Sen. Litwak asked if the relevant documents could be available at the December Senate meeting, when library policy would be discussed in more detail. He also suggested that knowledgeable people on both sides of the issue be asked to speak.
Sen. Thomas Pogge (Ten., GSAS/Hum) asked about the status of the Provostial advisory committee. Sen. Cole said that the external review had recommended the establishment of such a committee. It had not met yet precisely because the action plan had not yet been released, but would meet soon afterwards, when it could have all the relevant documents.
--Student Affairs: Sen. Ratner said student senators would be bringing legislation at the December meeting about a teaching resource center, an idea that had been endorsed several years before by the Senate, but had not yet materialized.
Students would also be focusing on sexual misconduct policy, offering to assist the Executive Committee subcommittee in gathering information and student opinion, perhaps with hearings or surveys. The Ad Hoc Committee on Enlargement Oversight would also be studying the impact of enlargement and enhancement on students..
Another issue was health insurance for students at Health Sciences--do they have to accept the policy offered by the University or do they have a choice?
Students would also assist the two presidential housing committees on housing issues that were critical to grad students and undergrad GS students.
Finally, the students would meet with University Chaplain Jewelnel Davis to discuss the role of Earl Hall in student life, including its relations with divisional student activities offices.
There being no further business, the President adjourned the meeting at about 2:10 pm.
Tom Mathewson, Senate staff