University Senate

Proposed: October 22, 1999





The chairman, President George Rupp, called the Senate to order at 1:15 pm in Schapiro Engineering Auditorium. Forty-four of 72 senators were present during the meeting.

Adoption of the minutes and agenda: The minutes of the meeting of April 30 and the agenda were adopted as proposed.

President's report: The University completed the last fiscal year with its overall budget in balance; schools with deficits have one year to go on multi-year plans to balance their budgets, and are on schedule. It was a record-breaking year in several categories: the total volume of research grants reached $390 million; total licensing fees for intellectual property resulting from research at Columbia reached $96 million, a 30 percent increase over the previous year; total fund-raising revenue reached $282 million, the sixth consecutive record.

The University has also made headway--on time and under budget--with a number of capital projects since the spring, with further progress on the Butler Library renovations, the opening of Lerner Hall this fall, new and better offices in Hamilton for the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race, and improvements in 116 classrooms--notably 833 Mudd and Altschul Auditorium--and around Uris, especially in the business library.

There have been important additions to the faculty, including a new dean in the School of the Arts, Bruce Ferguson, and 10 new junior and senior professors in the Economics Dept. After setting new records in admission rates last spring, Columbia undergraduate schools have also enrolled higher proportions of admitted students than ever, with a 55 percent yield in the College and 48 percent in Engineering.

The President reported some progress on the issue of sweatshops, which the Senate addressed last spring. He said Columbia is actively involved in efforts to mobilize the Fair Labor Association, the organization to monitor working conditions in apparel factories that was created last spring, and is requiring its suppliers to disclose more information about their factories and working conditions. He said these were positive developments, though it is still too early to reach a conclusion about the effectiveness of the FLA. The President he looked forward to an interim report at the October meeting from the External Relations Committee, which has a subcommittee considering a code of standards for manufacturers of apparel bearing Columbia's name or logo.

There was also progress on another issue discussed at length in the Senate last year--Columbia's sale of an environmentally significant piece of land in Orangetown, NY, to a developer with plans to build a luxury housing development. The University was working closely with the town and environmental groups, with good will on all sides, and the President was cautiously hopeful for a resolution satisfactory to all parties.

Nominations to committees: The Senate approved the roster of standing committees that had been distributed, with the following late additions: Phyllis Garland (Ten., Journalism) to Faculty Affairs and the Commission on the Status of Women; Nicholas Proferes (Nonten., A&S) to Honors and Prizes; Lauren Anderson (Stu., CC) to Honors and Prizes, External Relations, and Commission on the Status of Women; and Brian London (Stu., SEAS) to External Relations.

Report of the Executive Committee chairman: Sen. Paul Duby (Ten., SEAS), the chairman, welcomed new senators. He announced that Charles Donelan of the Senate staff has taken a job outside the University; he has been replaced by Debra Elfenbein, who filled in last fall when Betsy Esch, the other staff member, was on leave.

Sen. Duby was pleased to report that the Executive Committee did not need to use the summer powers that the Senate had granted to it at the April meeting, though External Relations, Faculty Affairs, and Education had all carried on their work.

Sen. Duby reported that the Senate election for Health Sciences faculty the previous spring had been defective. The electorate never received notice, and faculty from the Schools of Public Health and Nursing, who belong to the Senate's Faculty of Medicine constituency, were not included. The Senate Elections Commission decided to invalidate the election. A new election was now under way. Sen. Duby saw no reason to attribute any cause besides an administrative mixup to the mistakes that spoiled the first election.

Sen. Duby had attended the Trustees' plenary meeting in June, along with a student member of the Executive Committee, Sen. Samrat Ganguly (Law). Sen. Duby said Provost Cole had made a valuable report focusing on Columbia space needs 25 years from now. He asked if the Provost could make a version of that report to the Senate this year. The Provost was agreeable.

The annual consultation process involving the Senate in the selection of a University Trustee will begin in October. Sen. Duby recalled that two years ago the Senate nominating group suggested Joan Spero, who became the Senate-consulted Trustee. Last year there was no vacancy in the Senate-consulted position, because of the complex effect of deaths, retirements, and reelections of some Trustees on the succession process. President Rupp said the Trustees were now working on regularizing turnover on the Board. He said there would likely be one Senate-consulted vacancy to be filled for next year, and at least one to filled for the following year. He added that the nomination process is worth while in any case, because a larger pool of good candidates increases the chances for getting some elected.

Sen. Duby said the Executive Committee had considered three resolutions from Education, only one of which required significant discussion. That was the proposal to establish a new Department of Biomedical Engineering, whose letter of transmittal from the Provost had incorrectly stated that the Engineering School faculty had approved the proposal. After discussion in the Executive Committee, Sen. Duby had asked Dean Zvi Galil to distribute the proposal to the Engineering School faculty for approval before the Senate meeting. The Dean had declined this request, saying there was not sufficient time to carry it out. Sen. Duby said he would defer further comments until later in the agenda.

New business: Sen. Letty Moss-Salentijn (Ten., SDOS), chair of Education, presented resolutions on the three proposals that the committee had studied over the summer:

--Resolution to Reorganize the Faculties of Medicine and Dentistry: Sen. Moss-Salentijn said this proposal was comparable in scope to the establishment of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and would affect more than half of the entire faculty of the University. Originally there was one uptown faculty, the Faculty of Medicine, with departments for Public Health, Nursing, and Dental and Oral Surgery. About 40 years ago, the School of Dental and Oral Research was established as a separate faculty.

Over the years, the other two schools have also come to function as independent faculties, and the first part of the resolution would formally recognize this reality. The second part recalls the example of the Arts and Sciences, by creating a single Faculty of Health Sciences, incorporating the other four. The first Dean of the Faculty of the Health Sciences will be Dr. Herbert Pardes, the current Vice President for Health Sciences and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine.

Sen. Moss-Salentijn offered an amendment to simplify the language of the first "resolved" clause. There was no objection.

By unanimous consent, Vice Dean Andrew Davidson of the School of Public Health spoke to the resolution. He said his school, including the faculty, strongly supports both aspects of the proposal.

The President said the Parliamentarian, Howard Jacobson, had reminded him that the Senate By-laws provide for floor privileges for deans on any issue that affects their school, so they do not need unanimous consent to speak in such cases. The Parliamentarian also had pointed out that the present resolution should be referred to the Structure and Operations Committee, since the establishment of new faculties would have implications for Senate representation.

The Senate passed the resolution without dissent.

--Resolution to Establish an Institute for Cancer Genetics: Sen. Moss-Salentijn said establishing an institute would help develop funding opportunities and attract the right faculty and students to conduct research in this rapidly expanding field.

She also offered an editorial amendment, as well as an amendment suggested by the Parliamentarian, to include the Statutory language that the proposed institute is "authorized by the President."

Sen. Debra Wolgemuth (Ten., HS) asked whether approval of the proposal by the Faculty Council was still part of the language of the resolution. It was.

The Senate approved the resolution without dissent.

--Resolution to Establish a New Department of Biomedical Engineering: Sen. Moss-Salentijn said that bioengineering has a long history at Columbia, both in research and teaching, at what is presently a center. She said the enterprise has matured to such a degree that departmental status is now appropriate.

Sen. Duby, speaking now not as chair of the Executive Committee but as a member of the Engineering School faculty, said he would suggest a change in the resolution, which he said he supported. It involved the process of faculty consultation that accompanied the development of the present proposal, an issue he had discussed with Dean Galil. He said there was no disagreement about what kinds of consultation had taken place. The Dean had provided information about the proposal at a meeting of department chairs in May 1998, and there is a record of his report, but there is no record of a vote. The Dean also mentioned plans for a department at the plenary faculty meeting that spring, and at the plenary meeting in the spring of 1999, but there was no vote at either meeting. Sen. Duby said he had expected these presentations to be followed by the distribution of the proposal to the faculty at large for a vote, as had happened with other academic initiatives. In 1998, for example, the program in biomedical engineering was unanimously approved by the faculty. The problem in the present case, he said, was the inaccurate statement in the Provost's forwarding letter that the engineering faculty had approved the proposal. He proposed to strike the words "and faculty" from the resolution's second "whereas" clause: "The Committee is satisfied that the proposal has been approved by the Dean and faculty of the Fu Foundation School."

Sen. Duby said Dean Galil told him that he did not call for a vote because there is no provision in any by-laws or other book of rules that the faculty must vote as a whole on a proposal to found a new department. Sen. Duby challenged this interpretation, saying that the Senate committee that reviews significant academic changes needs to know if the faculty has approved them, whether the support is unanimous or not. Sen. Duby said the Senate needs to make its own judgment, and might even have reason to approve a program proposed by a dean but opposed by the faculty.

Sen. Moss-Salentijn accepted Sen. Duby's amendment as friendly.

Sen. Duby then spoke in favor of the substance of the resolution. He said he had talked to several colleagues in a variety of departments in recent days. All spoke strongly in favor of the proposal, giving him the sense that the faculty of a whole would have endorsed it at its meeting last May. Sen. Duby added that the biomedical program is a good example of the interdisciplinary approach to academic initiatives that President Rupp has encouraged, and would help to bring the Engineering School closer to other divisions of the University than it has been in the past.

There is also a need to proceed expeditiously, he said, above all for students who are attracted to the program and will benefit from the establishment of a department. He said it is important for them and for the faculty involved for the program to be functioning as a department by January 1.

Engineering Dean Zvi Galil, speaking under the By-laws provision allowing deans floor privileges on any issue affecting their schools, acknowledged a gross oversight in the presentation of the proposal and apologized for not following rules that he did not know existed. He outlined preparations he had undertaken for a new department that he said were highly promising for both students and faculty. He also said he knew of no requirement that faculty must vote to establish a new department. He summarized the consultations he had carried out, including announcements to department chairs in early 1998 and to the full faculty at meetings in May of 1998 and May of 1999 that had encountered no objections. He said that while the Provost's office might not have stated the faculty position precisely, he trusted that the faculty do support the initiative.

President Rupp said he understood Dean Galil's comments to mean that future proposals to establish departments should include a faculty vote, even though there is no formal requirement of that kind. He said he sensed virtually unanimous support for the proposal at the 1998 and 1999 Fu School faculty meetings, and stressed the importance of rapid action, since final adoption of the measure would require two Trustee meetings.

Sen. Georg Petschnigg (Stu., SEAS) said students in the Engineering School are extremely enthusiastic about the biomedical program, and would benefit in applying to graduate programs from being affiliated with a department instead of just a center. He said they were eager to see the resolution passed without delay.

By voice vote, the Senate then approved the resolution without dissent.

The President adjourned the meeting at around 2:30 pm.

Respectfully submitted,


Tom Mathewson, Senate staff