Committee on External Relations and Research Policy
Annual Report 2012-2013

This was a rebuilding year for this committee. Initially it was co-chaired by Sens. Elaine Larson and Sharyn O’Halloran, but Sen. O’Halloran relinquished her role to Sen. Francis Lee. Then, in the spring, Sen. Larson stepped down from the Senate at the request of her dean because she was overcommitted. In the spring, Sen. Matt Chou was elected vice chair.

Sen. Lee also assumed the chairmanship of the second task force on campus smoking policy. A first task force, co-chaired by Sens. Larson and Lee during the summer of 2012, also addressed the question of smoking on campus, and concluded that Columbia’s rule prohibiting smoking within 20 feet of campus buildings was not being enforced.

Morningside campus smoking policy. Campus smoking policy consumed much of the committee’s attention this year, as ER was the parent committee of the two smoking task forces, both of which have previously submitted reports. One highlight was a town hall on smoking policy on January 24, which was well attended by people with various points of view on the issue. A transcript of that session is available on the Senate web site at Many who were not able to attend the town hall submitted emails on the question; those can be found at

As this report is being written, a Resolution to Adopt a Tobacco Products Reduction and Control Policy is before the full Senate, scheduled for a vote at the last plenary of the academic year, on May 3, 2013.

Conflict of interest in research policy. The committee also addressed the university’s conflict of interest policy, which was revised in August 2012 in response to a revised federal regulation. Last fall, the committee surveyed the deans of the various schools within the university concerning changes they had made in their schools’ policies in response to the revised university-wide policy. At the committee’s November meeting, Naomi Schrag, Associate Vice President, Research Compliance, presented an update on the university’s policy.

The sequester. Ross Frommer, Deputy Vice President, Office of Government and Community Affairs, and Loftin Flowers, Assistant Vice President, Government Affairs, were guests at committee meetings in both November and April, to talk about the government’s budget sequester and its effect on university research. In April they were joined by Sen. Jeanine D’Armiento (Tenured, P&S), a CUMC researcher whose lab has been profoundly affected by the budget cuts.

Community Benefits Agreement. At the committee’s last meeting of the year, the guests were Kofi Boateng, Executive Director of the West Harlem Local Development Corporation, and members of his staff, who discussed Columbia’s Community Benefits Agreement and its implementation in the community.

Future topics. The committee looks forward to reestablishing its customary “beat.” Topics to be taken up next year include Columbia’s relationship with its logo merchandise suppliers, university communications with the surrounding community, and the work of the university’s institutional review boards. The committee will also continue to monitor the implementation of the Community Benefits Agreement, conflict of interest in research regulations and compliance, and the effects of the sequester on Columbia research.

Special thanks. The committee is grateful to Sen. Brendan O’Flaherty (Tenured, A&S/Social Sciences), for his extensive work with the second task force on campus smoking policy. His impartiality and diplomacy with the many factions weighing in on the question kept the discussion moving forward productively.

Respectfully submitted,

Francis Y. Lee, M.D.


External Relations and Research Policy Committee 2012-2013

Francis Y. Lee, CHAIR                      Tenured, College of Physicians and Surgeons
Matthew Chou, VICE CHAIR            Student, Columbia College
Kathleen Dreyer                              Library staff
Karen Jewett n-s                             Administration
Aly Jiwani                                        Student, School of International and Public Affairs
Kalliope Kyriakides                          Student, Barnard
Art Langer                                       Nontenured, School of Continuing Education
Sharyn O’Halloran                           Tenured, School of International and Public Affairs
Angela Nelson                                 Officer of Research
Naomi Schrag n-s                            Administration
Gerald Sherwin                               Alumnus
Alexandria Wise n-s                        Officer of Research
Howard Worman                             Tenured, College of Physicians and Surgeons