University Senate April 26, 2002
This year has been somewhat less active than last year for our committee, in part due to the absence of our regular chairman, Peter Marcuse, who has been on Sabbatical. Perhaps most importantly, however, we simply faced less urgent business this year. Last year major decisions were made on a number of important capital projects, some of which proved controversial. In the course of complex deliberations that culminated in decisions to build a new Social Work School on Amsterdam Avenue above 121st Street, a new residence building for law students on an adjacent site on 121st Street, and a new mixed-use complex on 110th Street that includes an elementary school, our committee reviewed the plans and the arguments and offered its advice to the University Administration. Those decisions are now behind us, construction is proceeding or imminent on each of these projects without major hitches, and no major new physical development issues or controversies came before the committee this year. Our work therefore consisted largely of monitoring the development of projects already underway through regular updates from Emily Lloyd and Geoff Wiener, Assistant Vice President for Facilities Planning and Space Management, and discussing with them possible options for the handful of remaining potential development sites on or near the Morningside campus thus far identified by the Administration, for which plans have not yet crystallized.
Early in the Fall, Prof. Marcuse agreed to chair a subcommittee on developments in the area north of 125th Street and west of Broadway, which has occupied a good deal of the committee’s attention in the past several years. Developments in this area have been largely on hold, however, while the University, the Community Board, the City of New York, and other interested parties await the completion of a major Economic Development Commission planning study, expected late this Spring. In addition, changes in administration both at Columbia and in New York City, along with the complex choreography of federal, state, and local participation and Columbia’s community relations, have militated in favor of a cautious, deliberate approach to this area. Prof. Marcuse’s urban planning students are currently studying these issues, and will have a report at the beginning of the fall semester summarizing the history of the University’s real estate development activities adjacent to its campuses. We had also hoped that the Administration would join a number of other major universities in a comparative examination of university real estate development practices, and participate in a conference on these matters sponsored by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, a Cambridge-based not-for-profit “think-tank,” but that has thus far been difficult.
One of our members, Victor de la Peña, served on the Science Space Group, a faculty committee chaired by Prof. Phong of the Math Dept. Prof. de la Peña provided our committee with an informative report on the science committee’s conclusions, which include a recommendation for a new science building to rise on the northwest corner of the Morningside campus. That recommendation is under consideration by the Administration but to date no further action has been taken.
Our March meeting included a lively discussion with Robert Lemieux, Associate Vice President for Facilities Management, Health Sciences, on possibilities for linking the Morningside and uptown campuses more closely. He reported on major projects underway uptown, including the Audubon III development now under construction. Mr. Lemieux also offered to take us on a tour of the Health Sciences campus, and to discuss at a later date the master plan for the uptown campus that is now taking shape. We anticipate that the proposed tour and discussion of the forthcoming master plan will take place sometime in the fall.
We have continued the longstanding practice of sending two representatives to quarterly meetings of the Trustees’ Buildings and Grounds Committee. Although our attendance is often a valuable source of additional information on matters within our committee’s jurisdiction, we are disappointed that the administration has not explicitly provided for our participation in discussion at those meetings. A simple way to do this would be a routine agenda item for a brief report from our committee of the kind that the Senate Education Committee enjoys at meetings of its counterpart Trustee committee. Such participation is provided for in a 1987 agreement concerning regular ties between the Senate and the Trustees, which assures a voice but not a vote for Senate representatives at Trustee committee meetings.
For the committee,
Prof. Bradley Karkkainen