Education Committee

Annual report 2004-2005



The Education Committee has met a total of eight times during the past academic year. The usual pattern emerged: a slow start was followed by increasing levels of activity due to a rapidly growing list of agenda items, which will keep some committee members working well into the summer.


Participation in the self-study for accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Under the leadership of the Provost and the Vice-Provost of the University a self-study has been initiated in preparation for the accreditation site visit in 2006 by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. A steering committee and four subcommittees have been established to conduct the self-study, which will focus on the PhD programs. Members of the Education committee represent the senate on the steering committee and several subcommittees, and will play an active role in the process.


New NY State and senate guidelines for program approval

A new set of guidelines has been issued by the State Education Department for the submission of proposals for new educational programs. The Education Committee has taken this opportunity to modify its own document for senate review of new proposals and merge the two documents into a single comprehensive one. Some new guidelines were developed for the internal review process by the senate, based on questions that have surfaced in previous years. The new document in Word format is now available as a downloadable file on the Education Committee’s web page.


Five-year reviews

            During the academic year 2004-2005 the committee, with assistance from the Office of the Vice-Provost, continued to implement the process for the “evaluation after 5 years” of newly approved educational programs.

Only three programs were slated for review this year:

All three programs were found to have met their initial objectives. Members of the subcommittee raised some minor questions, which will be forwarded to the program coordinators but should not stand in the way of continued approval.


Evaluation of new program proposals

The committee received proposals for a total of seven new degree programs:

Social Sciences (GSAS/SIPA)              under review



Proposed Departmental Merger

A proposal was received for a merger of the Departments of Anatomy & Cell Biology, and Pathology into a new unit to be named Department of Pathology & Cell Biology. A subcommittee evaluated this proposal and the full committee meetings on this subject were chaired by Professor Edward Mullen (SSW). The concerns that were raised on the educational implications of this proposed merger were addressed satisfactorily and the proposal was approved by the committee and forwarded in the form of a resolution to the senate for approval. 

                                                                                    approval pending 5/6/05


The full committee invited the following guests for consultation:

Deans Nick Lemann and Evan Cornoy (Journalism)

     This meeting took place after the new degree proposal had been approved by the senate. Both deans and the members of the committee discussed aspects of the new program, particularly the incorporation of outside faculty and involvement of participating schools.

Dean Gerald Fischbach and Professor Michael Shelansky (Chair, Pathology Department)

     These two administrators answered questions that had arisen in the committee concerning the educational implications of the proposed departmental merger and  provided specific assurances that the quality of the anatomy courses would not be compromised.

Professor Michael Stanislawski (Jewish and Israel Studies)

     Professor Stanislawski provided the committee with the background information on the proposal to establish an Institute of Jewish and Israel Studies to replace the existing Center.

Senator Daniel Savin (Researchers)

     Senator Savin at his request met with the committee to state the case for inclusion of a researcher on the Committee of Education. The committee had previously discussed this proposal. Following Savin’s eloquent statement, the committee revisited this issue and found itself divided on it. Some members had principled objections to adding a researcher. Others, while not especially welcoming it, had no objection.



Other Business


MEALAC controversy

     The committee considered whether or not educational issues were involved in this controversy that might be within the committee’s purview. The decision was made to await the report by the committee that had been appointed by President Bollinger.


Report by Arthur Levine on Schools of Education

     Following up on an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education on the study that had been chaired by TC President Arthur Levine, the committee briefly discussed the article about the problems in teacher education and decided to invite President Levine to a future meeting for a detailed briefing.


An unusual initiative

Building a Business Library for Da Afghan Bank: A Partnership between the IMF, World Bank, UNICEF and Columbia.

While not part of the charge of the Education committee, some of its members became involved in this interesting initiative as a result of the interdisciplinary nature of the senate. A former member of the committee, Frances Schoonmaker (TC), who has spent part of her sabbatical leave during the spring of 2005 in Afghanistan, contacted the committee chair with a request for assistance in building a business library for the central bank of Afghanistan. She asked for a contact in the business school to help collect and ship business books and publications. The chair in turn contacted committee member Adam Michaels (GSB) with this request. Mr. Michaels started an impressive 3-pronged effort to fill the bank’s library with top quality material. First, Columbia Business School professors and PhD candidates were asked for copies of their own printed work to help bring thought leadership to a place not otherwise reached. Second, students were asked to donate books they would no longer use. Finally, a network of national business libraries has been approached, to create further awareness and acquire additional materials. The non-trivial task at hand now is shipping these materials in undamaged condition to Afghanistan. We applaud this initiative, which is a great demonstration of the quality of a member of the student body in bringing such a complicated project to completion and to support the rebuilding of Afghanistan.



The committee wishes to express its sincere appreciation to Trustee emerita Anna Longobardo, Trustee observer, and Paul Thompson, Alumni representative, for their continued interest, efforts on behalf of the committee, and participation in the committee meetings. As in previous years, their advice and perspectives have greatly assisted the committee in its activities.


Education Committee