University Senate

Proposed: January 26, 2001

Adopted: January 26, 2001



WHEREAS       the members of the Senate's Research Staff constituency play a complex and critical role in the University, with duties and terms of appointment that vary from one campus or academic unit to another, and

WHEREAS      the members of this dispersed group seldom have occasion to communicate with each other and address common concerns in an organized way, and

WHEREAS      the University Senate is designed to enable precisely this kind of communication;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED      that the University Senate establish an Ad Hoc Committee on Research Staff Affairs, to function until the end of the 2001-2002 Senate session, and to consist of 9 members, including 7 members of the Research Staff constituency drawn from the Lamont, Health Sciences and Morningside campuses and representing the full range of research personnel; 1 faculty member; and 1 student;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED      that this committee will study a range of issues related to the status of researchers in the University, including their titles, procedures for promotions and grievances, and salaries, as well as their role in the Senate;

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED      that the committee will make a report to the Senate during the 2001-2002 session, including a recommendation about its own future.


Executive Committee

January 26, 2001




The University Senate Research Staff constituency, some 1100 strong (see attached), includes a wide range of titles, from post-docs and staff associates to senior research scientists and scholars, dispersed across Columbia's campuses.

Since becoming senators last spring, we have started to get know more of our colleagues, in meetings at Morningside and Lamont (another will take place at Health Sciences soon) and through two e-mail listservs that we set up in the fall. These contacts have already highlighted both common and disparate features of our Columbia experience that deserve further study. Our ranks and our promotion and grievance procedures parallel those of faculty, but with significant variations. The work of the committee we propose today, with the endorsement of the Executive Committee, would enable us to understand these conditions better, and provide a clearer picture of our status, both in the University and in comparison to our counterparts at other institutions.

In considering the voice of researchers in University affairs, an ad hoc committee would look at our role in the University Senate, whose by-laws allow us only two elected representatives and six committee seats. By contrast, some 900 Columbia tenured faculty hold 45 elected seats in the Senate and more than 60 committee seats. Is it worth seeking a formal redefinition of our role in the by-laws? If so, how?

One way might be to establish a standing Senate committee on research staff affairs, like those for faculty and students. But our ad hoc committee, if it is approved today, will also remember the career of a similar committee when we report to the Senate next year. That group, for Administrative Staff, began in 1978 and petered out in the mid-80s. By the spring of 2002 we should know whether our committee still has useful work to do.



Stephanie Neuman, Senior Research Scholar, Institute of War and Peace Studies


Barry Allen, Associate Research Scientist, Dept. of Medical Informatics