ANNUAL REPORT OF
THE SENATE COMMITTEE ON EXTERNAL RELATIONS

2007-2008

 

October 5, 2007: The Committee held a meeting with the Task Force on Campus Planning. They discussed a proposal for multi-committee project to address various academic planning scenarios in the end-of-year report drawing on reactions from deans, chairs and vice presidents to channel the debate. There was discussion of displacement issues in Manhattanville and the possible forthcoming gentrification there after the new campus is occupied. About 2,000 of 6,000 new jobs created in Manhattanville will go to locals. There will also be an aggressive education program for new Columbia employees.

The chair, Sharyn O’Halloran, reported on the Trustees’ Public Affairs Committee meeting she attended, which mostly concerned Manhattanville.

There was also discussion of Columbia’s Designated Supplier Program.

The chair reported that Columbia suffered a setback in the Community Board 9 hearings, where the board voted against Columbia’s plans and issued a list of ten conditions Columbia must meet to change the board’s decision, some of which were not feasible.

 

October 26, 2007: The Student Affairs Caucus issued a report, “Recent Acts of Hateful Intimidation and Vandalism on Columbia’s Campus."

 

November 9, 2007: The guests were David Stone, EVP for Public Affairs; Deborah Sack, AVP for Strategic Communications; and LaVerna Fountain, Assistant Vice President.

A Manhattanville subcommittee was created, consisting of John Johnson, Richard Pena, Felipe Tarud and Laureen Zubiaurre, charged with examining Columbia’s outreach efforts to the Harlem community and its research and environmental policies and their effects on the community. They were to contribute to the large report on the implications of the Manhattanville development that several committees were in the process of assembling for the Senate by the end of the year.

The student caucus report on bias incidents and multiculturalism was discussed. It addressed the bias incidents of the fall, efforts to promote diversity and multiculturalism, and diversity in the faculty and curriculum.

Vice President Stone talked about the problem of community relations and his efforts at outreach, including local announcements of public events at Columbia, increased advertising of events, and the “Columbia People” campaign featuring Columbia employees, to communicate the existence of opportunities at Columbia for local people. He showed a fifteen-minute in-house DVD that he was producing about Columbia’s ties to the Harlem community. He also discussed internal emergency communications, such as the announcements to students about the bias incidents.

 

December 7, 2007: The guests were James McShane, AVP, Public Safety; Susan Glancy, Chief of Staff, Office of the President; and Andrea Hauge, Student Caucus Co-Chair.

Mr. McShane discussed Columbia’s response to the bias incidents of the fall – two instances of racist graffiti and a noose hung on a Teachers College professor’s door. In two cases, e-mail messages had been sent to all students, and in one case of graffiti, the police were notified. In the other case of graffiti, the public safety office was never notified and the story appeared in the Spectator. Mr. McShane had not known of the existence of a deans’ working group, which might be able to standardize efforts at notifying the university community of such incidents, efforts that now vary among the schools.

Sen. Johnson was named to head the Manhattanville subcommittee. There was discussion of the Local Development Corporation’s proposal to have four sites in the Manhattanville zone declared historic, and of the rezoning of the area that Columbia has requested, a proposal for which was then before the City Council.

 

January 25, 2008: The guests were Costantino Colombo, Dean of Student Affairs, CC/SEAS; Ajay Nair, Associate Dean and Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs; and Kevin Schollenberger, Associate Dean, Student Development and Activities and Residential Programs.

Dean Colombo responded to the student caucus report, “Recent Acts of Hateful Intimidation and Vandalism,” which identified three student concerns: university communication of urgent messages regarding campus security, multicultural resources, and diversity in curriculum and faculty. He discussed his office’s responses to the bias incidents: letters to students and  meetings with student leaders of underrepresented groups.

Dean Nair talked about the Office of Multicultural Affairs. Diversity education for all students, conducted by staff and trained students, is now part of orientation and has been successful. The OMA is currently being evaluated by an outside consultant.

There was discussion of the negotiations with the hunger strikers last fall, who were protesting the lack of non-Western content in the core curriculum and Columbia’s expansion into Manhattanville.

 

February 11, 2008: The guests were Geraldine Downey, Vice Provost for Diversity Initiatives; and Martha Howell, Professor of History and chair of a curriculum subcommittee of the President’s Task Force on Undergraduate Education.

Provost Downey talked about increasing faculty diversity. Her predecessor, the first diversity provost, in 2004, had a $15 million fund for recruiting black faculty, and the number of such faculty was increased from about 18 to 24. The recruiting budget has since been reduced. There is still a lack of black faculty in the science departments. The problem is that most candidates are in black studies and similar social science fields. There is also a need for incentives to attract more women to the science faculty. Columbia has instituted backup care for children or elderly relatives at subsidized rates and an office of work/life. In addition, the “tenure clock” can be stopped for each of two children.  

Professor Howell discussed the major cultures requirement. Unfortunately, she said, there was a lack of funds for the program and no one to teach it. Some ideas being considered were advising to help students put programs together that included non-Western studies, to add non-Western content to existing core courses, and series of courses for small groups.

 

April 7, 2008: The guests were Honey Fishman, Executive Director, Faculty House; Michael Feiler, Associate General Counsel; and Hugh Horowitz, Executive Director, Procurement Services.

Ms. Fishman talked about Columbia’s Code of Conduct for Vendors. The University of Michigan has a voluntary program for vendors that addresses fair wages and quality of life. Columbia has 60-65 preferred vendors, but tens of thousands of vendors are used and the university needs competitive pricing. Columbia  has no “green” standards for vendors. The committee discussed the possibility of a rating system for vendors covering pay scales for workers, working conditions and green initiatives.

After the guests left, the Manhattanville subcommittee discussed the report it anticipated furnishing by the end of the year, including contributions from all the committees, concerning green construction practices, biohazards, eminent domain, managing facilities, the population of the Morningside campus after Manhattanville is inhabited and other issues.

 

April 9, 2008: The Student Affairs Caucus issued its “Memorandum on Acts of Hateful Intimidation and Violence,” authored by John Johnson and Andrea Hauge, a follow-up to the report of October 26, 2007.

 

May 2, 2008: There was discussion of a proposed commission on diversity, to be a subcommittee of Executive Committee. The committee also decided to revisit the Vendor Code of Conduct in the fall, when they would examine the standards in use by the Parks Department and other entities.

 

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