University Senate

Proposed: September 24, 1999

Adopted: September 24, 1999

 

MEETING OF APRIL 30, 1999

The chairman, President George Rupp, called the Senate to order at 1:15 pm in 301 Uris. Forty-four of 82 senators were present during the meeting.

Adoption of the minutes and agenda: The agenda and the minutes of the meeting of March 26 were adopted as proposed.

President's report: The President reported five pairs of recent accomplishments:

--Two advances in enhancement: the opening of the Lerner bookstore on April 29, and continued progress in the renovation of Butler Library, particularly with the research areas now being designed for the 5th and 6th floors;

--Columbia students won two types of honors, with two Columbia College juniors appointed as Truman Scholars, an award recognizing potential in government and public service, and four students honored as Goldwater Scholars, for excellence in math and science.

--Faculty awards both external (a Pulitzer Prize for fiction to Michael Cunningham of the School of the Arts for his novel The Hours, election to the National Academy of Sciences for Horst Stormer and David Walker) and internal (the Mark Van Doren Award for outstanding teaching to math professor Henry Pinkham and the Lionel Trilling Award to Robert Lieberman, assistant professor of political science, for his book Shifting the Color Line: Race and the American Welfare State).

--Two impressive student activities on April 14: Student Lobby Day in Washington, when 39 students called on 43 House members and 26 senators; and a panel discussion on Jewish-Palestinian relations organized by students, including Sen. Shmuel Ezran (SEAS).

--Two notable events in campus labor relations: an annual award for Student Employee of the Year, to two undergraduates, and the recent contract settlement with the campus TWU local, with significant innovations in opportunities for advancement.

Report of the Executive Committee Chairman: Sen. Paul Duby (Ten., SEAS) reviewed the Executive Committee's discussions at its April 23 meeting of agenda items for the present meeting. The committee had decided to change the composition of the Ad Hoc Committee on Enlargement and Enhancement, adding two faculty members to make a total of four and regularizing the three senior administrator positions. He anticipated no objection to these changes in the E&E committee, which the Executive Committee had set up in 1997 and would review again at the end of 1999-2000.

Sen. Duby expressed appreciation for the improved attendance at the present meeting, which he attributed partly to the high quality of the discussion in March; for the work of the standing committees reflected in their annual reports, and for the efforts of the Senate staff.

Finally, Sen.Duby invited all senators to march together as a group at Commencement, where they could also expect good seats on the dais.

Annual committee reports:

--Budget Review: Sen. Robert Jervis (Ten., A&S), the chairman, said that major improvements in the academic standing of many of Columbia's divisions over the past 20 years have brought Columbia into head-to-head competition with Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Stanford. The bad news is that those institutions are much better endowed than Columbia, which depends much more heavily on tuition. Measured one way, Columbia's budget is in good shape, and income is rising in most schools. This healthy growth is partly attributable to increased enrollments, particularly in undergraduate divisions, and partly to a rate of tuition increase much higher than inflation over the years. But the increases in enrollments will be ending, and market pressures are now forcing down the rate of tuition growth.

As a result, Sen.. Jervis said, Columbia will have to resort to other sources of income, but here the large and ever-widening gap between the size of its endowment and those of its peers will prove more and more of an obstacle. He mentioned a recent effort to recruit an eminent professor away from Harvard to run a new institute here, which failed when Harvard offered $20 million to establish the institute there. Prof. Jervis said such disparities will remain at least for the next several years, and Columbia's challenge will be to make good choices with its more limited resources.

Sen. Eugene Litwak (Ten., A&S) asked whether increases in research income could help narrow the gap between Columbia and its peers. Sen. Jervis said that indirect cost recovery, the overhead money that Columbia receives on federal grants to support its scientific research, is an important source of income, but that Columbia's space constraints hamper its efforts to expand its research enterprise. Columbia's patents and licenses had brought in impressive income in recent years, thanks in large part to a few patents established by Prof. Richard Axel, but these patents would expire in a few years.

Another important source of income is fund raising, which Prof. Jervis said has not been Columbia's strength in the past. He said the current Capital Campaign has ambitious goals and is more or less on track, but even if it succeeds it will not close the basic gap..

--Education: Sen. Letty Moss-Salentijn (Ten., SDOS), the chair, emphasized the committee's continuing concern about the proliferation of academic programs, with frequent overlaps and occasional transgressions of disciplinary boundaries. The committee will be seeking an accounting from the Registrar of all master's programs, to help it in assessing new proposals that come along.

--Ad Hoc Committee on Enlargement and Enhancement: Sen. James Shapiro (Ten., A&S), the chair, noted that the committee had not submitted a report at the end of the previous year. This year the committee decided on its main objective--to create a base line of information that other Senate committees can use in assessing E&E. He asked faculty senators to volunteer to serve on the committee in the fall, adding that the level of faculty involvement would figure importantly for the Executive Committee in its evaluation of the work of the E&E committee at the end of the coming year.

--Faculty Affairs: Sen. Litwak called attention to a committee report on retirement, which was attached to the annual report.

--Housing Policy: Sen. Charles Calomiris, the chairman, was absent, and there was no report.

--Libraries: Sen. Jeremy Waldron (Ten., Law), the chair, said the committee would meet once more, before submitting its report. The committee had had a quiet year, partly because of an unusual degree of pleasure over recent efforts to improve the Libraries, with a higher degree of faculty involvement in policy making under the auspices of the Provost's Office, and over the administration's commitment to an action plan for the Libraries.

--Physical Development: Sen. Peter Marcuse (Ten., SAPP) alerted the Senate to three possibly controversial issues that would be coming up next year. The committee had adopted a limited approach to physical development issues, focusing on supply and demand. On the question of the supply of space for possible development, the committee had taken an interest in the area north of 125th Street and west of Broadway. Tensions that have hampered Columbia's ties with the community and the community board over the years have subsided during the tenure of Emily Lloyd. A recent planning session, or charette, had considered possibilities for the area by the Hudson known as Harlem Piers. Columbia might be able to play a role there would serve its own interests as well as those of the community. There are strong feelings in the community about the University and local development, which the committee would be exploring. Sen. Marcuse said he hoped the University would take an affirmative attitude toward the area and its possibilities.

A second issue concerns the demand for space. The committee had tried, with some difficulty, to make an inventory of the major space needs of University schools and programs. Sen. Marcuse said the project may have been difficult because negotiations within the administration over development projects are not public. The committee met recently with the Provost, expressing its concern that capital proposals that get approved might be the ones for which the money is in hand--that is, that the rich schools would get space and the poor schools would not. He said it was clear that the University was concerned about this problem as well. The committee had been considering general criteria that might be used in assessing space needs.

Finally, questions of supply and demand will figure in the Provost's current project to consider possible expansions of this campus, as well as of ways of thinking about Columbia's various campuses. These issues will be discussed further next year. Sen. Marcuse said the committee was eager to have a broad representation of University units among its members.

--Commission on the Status of Women: Jean Howard (Nonsen., Ten., A&S), the chair, said the Commission had pursued two projects this year. One was pressing for the completion of several salary equity studies now under way across the University. A committee has been established at Health Sciences to review salaries there, and a committee is being formed to study research officers' salaries. A committee on administrative staff salaries has been at work for two years, but has not reported. Prof. Howard said she hoped that report will come forward next year. The latest study of the faculty salary equity committee examined the fairness of faculty promotion procedures for women and minorities. Prof. Howard commended the care that went into this report, which found no statistically significant differences in tenure rates among the different groups. However, she called attention to outcomes in particular schools which deserve further thought. The Business School has not promoted a woman to tenure in 13 years, and the Engineering School has a low profile for female tenured faculty. One reason for these results is that these schools have had very few women in the nontenured pipeline. Prof. Howard said it is important to understand why this is, and if it can be changed.

The Commission's second project is a "pipeline" study to see how female faculty members fare at Columbia during their careers. Of particular interest is the process by which women enter the pipeline at the nontenured level and at the level of tenure. The Commission hoped to present preliminary results at the September Senate meeting.

Sen. Jonathan Cole (Admin.), the Provost, offered the clarification that the Business School has not promoted a woman to tenure from within in 13 years, but it has appointed a few outside female professors to tenure during that period.

Sen. Debra Wolgemuth (Ten., HS) asked if the membership of the committee studying salaries at Health Sciences was public information. Prof. Howard said the membership has not been finalized, but would be made public.

Sen. Wolgemuth asked if the methods used in a widely discussed recent study of gender inequities in the sciences at MIT would be useful to the Commission in its investigation. Prof. Howard said the Commission was unaware of the MIT study when it began looking into pipeline issues this year. The main model has been a University of Michigan pipeline study of a few years ago. Members were now reading the MIT report, which she said addressed problems not directly comparable to Columbia's.

Sen. Cole noted that the public MIT report that was available on the web did not give a clear idea of the methods used. To find that out, one would need to read two related reports that were not made public. He said Columbia has done studies of these issues that are more sophisticated than the public MIT report. He said he would be happy to report on these in the fall, either to the Commission or the full Senate.

Prof. Howard said she didn't know that some of the MIT report was not public. She said one noteworthy feature of the report was its use of qualitative data--interviews with senior women faculty about their experiences that prompted the statistical studies.

The president noted that Columbia was already taking steps like most of the ones identified in the MIT report's recommendations. He said he looked forward to a fuller discussion of these issues in the fall.

--Structure and Operations: Sen. Joan Ferrante (Ten., A&S), the chair, said the committee was looking at questions of Senate representation of different groups, particularly the faculties of the Health Sciences and the Arts and Sciences. In the latter case, the constituencies are divided by schools--GSAS, GS, the College--whose faculties are all essentially the same. She appealed to senators for input on these questions.

On the question of Senate voting rules, which the Executive Committee had asked Structure and Operations to study after the Trustees' executive committee had rejected the Senate's April 1998 resolution defining the Tenure Review Advisory Committee in the Statutes, Sen. Ferrante summarized the committee's conclusions: it is appropriate for the Senate to require a larger majority (three fifths) for measures that would change its own by-laws than the simple majority it requires of all other measures; even the TRAC resolution which Trustee Stephen Friedman said was adopted by such a small number of senators actually represented a larger majority, including the Faculty Affairs Committee and the Senate faculty caucuses.

--Student Affairs: Sen. Rohit Aggarwala (Stu., Bus.), standing in for chair Kamari Price (Stu., Law), identified three main issues from the past year that students had discussed this year: the resolutions on sweatshops that would be before the Senate in a few minutes, the critique of the Center for the Study of Alcohol and Substance Abuse (CASA) ofered by the Columbia chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, and questions concerning Columbia's investment policies. More informally, students had addressed two other issues: attendance at Senate meetings, and efforts to increase communication among students in different Columbia schools. At a March event organized by the caucus, students from most Columbia graduate schools spoke briefly to undergraduates about their academic experiences and career paths. Sen. Aggarwala hoped Career Services would help to institutionalize contacts of this kind.

Old business:

--Resolution from External Relations on Columbia's policy on sweatshops. Sen. Eugene Litwak (Ten., GSAS/SS), chairman of External Relations, said the past month has been a valuable educational experience for his committee, which has learned a lot about the sweatshop issue. He asked for unanimous consent for speaking privileges for two visitors: Robert Durkee, vice president for public affairs at Princeton and a representative of universities that have joined the Fair Labor Association (FLA), the White House-backed group of apparel manufacturers and non-governmental organizations created to monitor and reduce sweatshop conditions in factories around the world; and Greg Smith, a Columbia graduate student, member of Columbia Students Against Sweatshops, and critic of Columbia's decision in March to join the FLA.

The Senate unanimously agreed to allow the visitors to answer questions that might come up in the discussion, after Sen. Shmuel Ezran (Stu., SEAS) expressed concern about the possible need for time limits.

Sen. Litwak said that despite the educational atmosphere and the good will of its debates, the External Relations Committee was unable to reach consensus on the question of whether to support or oppose Columbia's affiliation with the FLA. The committee eventually produced a resolution supporting the FLA, along with a dissenting minority report. Sen. Litwak moved the resolution, and anticipated a friendly amendment from a committee member, Sen. Ariel Neuman (Stu., CC).

Sen. Neuman distributed copies of a single-page document containing amendments, and read them aloud, along with some further revisions.

Commenting on one of the further revisions, the President expressed uncertainty about how the Senate could adopt "progress toward recommendations." To general agreement, some senators suggested that a progress report be submitted for Senate "consideration" rather "than adoption."

Sen. Litwak pointed out that the amendments call for a committee to develop stricter standards than those of the FLA but say nothing about how the committee will be formed.

Alan Stone, vice president for public affairs and a non-senator member of External Relations, said he had been involved in working out the last-minute amendments. He said it was his understanding that External Relations, which had handled the issue so far for the Senate, should put the new committee together. Such an approach would keep the project within the Senate family, while drawing in concerned people from outside. Sen. Neuman said he shared Mr. Stone's understanding.

The President asked for common consent that the new committee would be designed by External Relations--subject to Executive Committee approval--and would function as a subcommittee of External Relations. There was no objection.

The President summarized the procedural situation so far: the External Relations resolution, including amendments from Sen. Neuman that Sen. Litwak had accepted as friendly on behalf of the committee, was now before the Senate for discussion.

Sen. Aggarwala said he understood that the University of Michigan had pulled out of the FLA, and that Brown University had set conditions for its affiliation and said it might withdraw in the fall if the FLA has not made significant progress toward meeting them. Such a decision, he said, would destroy the united front that the Ivy League has tried to achieve. He noted that the amended Senate resolution intimates, without affirming, cooperative action with Brown. He asked for clarification of the relation--if any--between the position proposed in the amended resolution and those of Brown and Michigan.

At the President's request, Mr. Durkee responded to this question. He said there were now 60 colleges and universities affiliated with the FLA. Michigan had never affiliated, although it is interested enough to take part in planning the first meeting of the FLA's college advisory committee, which is scheduled in June. Brown had adopted six principles to use to measure the performance of the FLA. At least one of them is already provided for in the FLA charter; it is possible that others might be incorporated in a matter of months, while others might take more time. But the general understanding of the FLA is that it is a work in progress; most, if not all, affiliated schools had identified further improvements that are important to them.

Greg Smith added that students are interested in Brown's approach, but Columbia's situation is somewhat different: Brown already has a code of conduct in place, which it can compare to the FLA code; Columbia, according to the amended resolution, would be starting to develop its own code, perhaps with emphasis on different principles. As a result, he doubted Columbia would be ready to make a decision about the FLA by October 15, the deadline Brown had set.

Noting President Rupp's emphasis on the importance of united action, Sen. Aggarwala asked for comment on the Brown principles: Are they a starting point? Are there significant differences in point of view?

The President said these were issues for the new committee to address, but he offered the observation that the first principle announced by Brown--that the advisory board of colleges and universities should have decision-making authority in the FLA--is completely unworkable and will have to be revised before October 15; otherwise, Brown's separation from the FLA is guaranteed. He said Columbia would certainly not want to include this as one of its principles. With this exception, he agreed with Mr. Durkee that the other principles were either close to the FLA code, or were possible additions to it.

Sen. James Applegate (Ten., GSAS/NS) said the majority and minority reports were a remarkable pair of documents to come from the same committee. The majority report said that factory monitors are chosen and paid by the FLA, along with the final list of factories to be inspected; the minority report said these decisions are made by manufacturers. He asked which of these claims were true, and said his vote depended on the answer.

The President said the Executive Committee had expressed similar reservations about the first recommendations External Relations had made for Senate action a week before, and had asked the committee to take further steps to resolve the apparently inconsistent fact bases underlying the two resolutions.

Sen. Litwak said both statements about monitors were right. One referred to internal monitoring done by manufacturers; the other referred to external monitoring supervised by the FLA.

Mr. Durkee said he thought both statements were wrong. To be certified by the FLA, a company has to have 30 percent of its factories inspected by accredited monitors who are employees of neither the companies nor the FLA. The FLA has a staff of about 20; the monitors are outside agencies that meet a set of standards spelled out in the FLA charter. One of the principles is that local NGOs have to be involved in the monitoring process. Once a company is certified, it continues to be monitored: if its record is good, perhaps 5 percent of its factories will be monitored; if not, perhaps 15 percent will be monitored. These percentages will be adjusted after three years.

Which factories? The company presents a list of all of its factories to the FLA, according to risk factors: the largest ones, and those in vulnerable areas, are at the top. The FLA staff has full authority to change the list and final authority to decide which factories get monitored. It can adjust the list if it is presented improperly, or if the FLA has information from a third party.

Sen. Ezran asked how the FLA staff would be chosen. Mr. Durkee said a search was underway for an executive director; another staff member would work full time as the liaison with affiliated universities. If a university adopts additional standards beyond those in the FLA charter, the monitors accredited by the FLA will measure factories against those stricter standards. The staff member responsible for working with universities has a dual reporting relationship--to the executive director and the FLA board, and also to the FLA's advisory council of colleges and universities.

In response to another question from Sen. Ezran, Mr. Durkee said the FLA board chooses the executive director. The board has six members appointed by manufacturers, six appointed by NGO's--human rights groups, labor rights groups, consumer groups--and one university representative, as well as a chair, who must by charter be acceptable to all parties. The executive director is chosen by majority vote of the whole board. He said the staff structure of a director reporting to a board and hiring the staff is not uncommon. He noted that the college advisory council would have review authority over the staff person hired as liaison with them.

The President said that although technically an executive director could be appointed by a slim majority of the board, no one chosen that way would accept the directorship. The intention is to find someone acceptable to the whole board--a difficult task.

Sen. Ezran said that to assure the effectiveness of the FLA, it might make sense to add an explicit requirement--either to the present resolution or to the final report of the committee to be created by External Relations--that the executive director must enjoy the support of the whole board, or at least a large majority.

The President said the amended resolution did not commit Columbia to irrevocable affiliation with the FLA. If a later assessment of the kind called for in the amended resolution shows the executive director to be unable for any reason to address the university's concerns, then it seems clear that Columbia should not be in the FLA. He said he thought it would be difficult to find a director who commands the respect of all the major parties in the FLA, and the process might take longer than impatient people are willing to wait. But he thought it would be an easy decision whether to stay in an FLA whose director enjoys the support of no more than a slim majority of the board. He said he did not know how to provide for these possibilities now--particularly in view of the difficulty of keeping track of the content of the present resolution--but repeated his assurance that Columbia had no interest in being a member of an organization paralyzed by the situation of a director who barely enjoys the support of the board.

Sen. Ezran asked Greg Smith if he thought there were structural flaws in the FLA that would make it impossible even for an FLA whose director was chosen with the unanimous support of the NGOs on the board to function effectively.

Mr. Smith said he still had strong reservations about the FLA, but given Columbia's interest in joining, he said he thought the amended resolution is worthwhile. The key issue is not just the leadership, he said, but how the FLA actually functions, and what sort of connections it has with local monitoring groups. For the time being, students who have been working on this issue are willing to see what becomes of these relationships in the next few months, and to make a judgment by March 1, 2000.

Sen. Peter Marcuse (Ten., SAPP) noted that substantive concerns about the FLA are expressed in the "whereas" clauses of the resolution, but not in the "resolved" clauses. He wondered whether it would help to add another resolved clause saying, "The University supports efforts to strengthen the effectiveness of measures to monitor and improve working conditions in the global apparel industry and to deal with the foregoing concerns about the functioning of the FLA."

The President said that because of the difficulty of conceiving the resolution as it now stood, he hoped the committee would have some leeway in achieving a clearer statement of its final position.

Sen. Litwak said the intent of the committee had been consistent with the language Sen. Marcuse had offered. He suggested letting the committee fulfill that intention in the standards and recommendations it develops.

The President said that previous discussions had repeatedly stressed the goal of keeping the FLA moving in the direction of correcting deficiencies that everyone has acknowledged. The FLA is a floor rather than a ceiling, he said, a work in progress which universities must help shape. The resolution mentions additional requirements, but the goal should be to have the FLA adopt those requirements. But the outcome of such negotiations is impossible to predict now.

He asked the committee to look again after the present meeting at the overall resolution, to assure that problems identified in the whereas clauses are also addressed in the resolved clauses.

Sen. Aggarwala called the question. There was no objection.

The Senate unanimously approved the resolution as amended.

The President said the discussion had been constructive, helpfully identifying some loose ends that remain to be cleared up.

New business:

--Master of Arts in Conservation Biology: Sen. Moss-Salentijn moved the resolution on behalf of the Education Committee. She said there is a clear need for such a program, and there are none now in New York City, and only three in New York State.

The Senate approved the resolution, with two abstentions.

--Resolution Concerning Summer Powers: With the understanding that the Executive Committee would be authorized able to empower other committees, the Senate unanimously adopted the resolution.

The President adjourned the meeting at about 2:35 pm.

Respectfully submitted,

 

Tom Mathewson, Senate staff