University Senate

April 27, 2001




We have held eight meetings of the full Faculty Affairs Committee this year; our various subcommittees, which are mostly devoted to faculty grievances, may have met more than three dozen times.

            We devoted some time to reading and commenting on the draft handbook on benefits for Columbia retirees that the University community has been awaiting from Human Resources. We also had a productive meeting with Gordon Barger, director of benefits and compensation, on issues related to procedures for notifying retirees of impending changes in health insurance benefits.

            As usual, the bulk of our business involved faculty grievances. I notice that the new complaints we have received tend to illuminate some of the same underlying problems that we identified in last year's annual report.

            --A grievance we took on this year has revealed still more problems in procedures for review and promotion in the School of the Arts faculty.

--We have seen troubling signs of the encroachment of budget issues in tenure appointments, in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and across the University.

--Our disagreement with the Provost continues over the application of statutory guidelines for the sharing of confidential information in tenure grievances. These guidelines are laid out in a statutory amendment adopted by the Trustees after Senate passage in November 1996.

            --Problems of equity in faculty salaries have arisen more than once. Two of us have participated in the work of a subcommittee of the faculty caucuses on salary disparities affecting two groups: senior professors in certain departments, and Language Lecturers. This subcommittee may develop a resolution for action by Faculty Affairs in the fall. In this inquiry, and in one salary grievance, we have encountered serious difficulty in acquiring information from the administration even on average salaries in different faculty groups.

            --A number of grievance investigations have convinced us of the need to draft a code of conduct for deans and department chairs. A discussion of a draft document, including a provision for regular faculty evaluations of these officers, has begun in the faculty caucuses. We will resume this discussion in our report later in today's Senate agenda, and again in the fall.


For the committee,

Eugene Litwak, chairman