Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Columbia University

Faculty Meeting of 11 February 2010




Agenda: Discussion of the ARC report on faculty governance and of the suggested amendment to the Stated Rules of the Faculty of A&S


The meeting commenced at 12:05pm.




Amber Miller (Chair, ECFAS) provided a short history of the governance review and laid out the agenda for the meeting.


Discussion of the ARC report on faculty governance


Teodolinda Barolini (Chair, ARC) reported on the process of the ARC review of faculty governance in the A&S: following an initiative on the part of ECFAS, ARC agreed to conduct the review; ECFAS submitted a self-study document in March 2009; an external committee consisting of Rebecca Bushnell (Penn), David Hollinger (Berkeley), and Richard Saller (Stanford) visited in April 2010 and submitted a report; an internal committee consisting of Mark Mazower (Chair), Stuart Firestein, and Cathy Popkin submitted their own report to ARC; in consultation with ECFAS and the Chairs, ARC then hammered out the final report, which is under discussion today.  TB stressed that the ideas expressed in the report (executive power should rest with an elected faculty committee) are very much in the spirit of the faculty members and administrators who were involved in the constitution of the Faculty of A&S and its first executive committee in the early 90s.


The floor was then opened to discussion.


Paul Strohm praised the report, stressing that the envisaged PPC is an example of a consultative committee in the spirit of a "strong" model of faculty governance that privileges faculty "consultation" over mere "input."


Elizabeth Blackmar recommended that the PPC should also be consulted in questions concerning the libraries (an aspect missing from the current ARC document).  There was some discussion, and it was agreed that (though the libraries as a whole fall under the purview of the Provost, and the Senate has its own Libraries Committee), the Faculty of A&S should concern itself with this question and that the PPC might in the future wish to appoint a library committee.


Patricia Dailey raised two questions, 1) to what extent the PPC would be concerned with the Global Centers, and 2) how the concerns of untenured faculty would be addressed by the PPC, given that the committee would not have untenured members.  As to 1), AM pointed out that this was a University, not A&S issue, but that strengthened faculty governance in the A&S would hopefully contribute to a stronger role of the A&S in the University as a whole.  Point 2) was discussed at some length, with the general consensus being that while it makes sense for the PPC not to have untenured members (largely because of the time commitment involved), the committee should very much represent the interests of non-tenured faculty of professorial rank, as well as lecturers and research faculty.


Robert Lieberman raised general questions about the structure, size, and makeup of the PPC and its envisaged role in the decision making process, which led to a wider discussion.  AM, TB, and Jean Howard provided some background on how it came that in the currently envisaged model, the PPC contains 3 Chairs in addition to 6 elected faculty members; the new PPC in a way combines the current ECFAS and Steers.  Executive Vice President Nicholas Dirks provided some details on the envisaged powers of the PPC, which would also take on the remit of the EPPC (a committee on undergraduate education suggested by the Taskforce on Undergraduate Education in its report, but never constituted).  The PPC would be involved in every decision concerning A&S policy; ND laid out various scenarios for decision making depending on the circumstances, including committee consensus, committee vote, and decision by the EVP in consultation with the PPC.  Sharyn O'Halleran stressed the importance of cooperation between the PPC and the Senate, which work on many of the same issues.


Susan Pedersen stressed the importance of communication between the PPC and the Faculty at large, pointing to poor communication in the present system and suggesting that the PPC submit monthly reports to the Faculty, ideally in electronic form.  She also warned of the danger that the PPC would be a committee of the "usual suspects" and called for finding ways to tap the wealth of knowledge and experience of a broad body of faculty.  Gil Anidjar expressed the view that in the past, the University had not been forthcoming with information and had in fact impeded faculty organization and communication.


Answering a question by James Zetzel, AM confirmed that the FDC and other standing committees would continue to exist under the amended Stated Rules.  This led to a general discussion of the envisaged relation of the PPC to other committees, as well as to the Chairs, and of the chart submitted with the ARC report and supposed to show the suggested new executive structure of the A&S.  ND clarified some of the envisaged processes, explaining that under the new system, ARC would report to the PPC and that the PPC would be involved in evaluating departmental IBS's and dealing with resource allocation.


Discussion of the suggested amendment to the State Rules of the Faculty of A&S


AM briefly presented the suggested amendment, pointing out that rather than dealing with all the inaccuracies and anachronisms of the current document, ECFAS had focused solely on Section 6, suggesting the replacement of ECFAS with the new PPC.  Following the Rules, the vote on this amendment will be officially announced at the next Faculty Meeting (4 March 2010) and will then be conducted by e-mail ballot for a few days immediately following the meeting.


The floor was then opened to discussion.


Alice Heicklen asked why the FDC is not longer mentioned in the proposed Stated Rules.  AM explained that the old Rules did not adequately represent the committee situation either (e.g., neither ARC nor the SCLL existed at the time the original Rules were drafted) and that there had been an effort to keep the amended Rules as general as possible to allow for the situation to evolve without violating the Rules.  ND added that the PPC would, as it were, act as the source and guardian of all other committees.  JZ pointed out that under these circumstances, the amended Rules should state explicitly that the PPC is responsible for appointing other committees.  There was general consensus that this was desirable; Stuart Firestein suggested the wording "the PPC shall constitute, dissolve, and appoint relevant committees."


Ron Prywes questioned the suggested process for nominating candidates for the PPC, expressing the view that having a nominating committee consisting of chairs was not a particularly democratic scenario.  AM responded that the envisaged process was the same that had been in place, and stated in the old Rules, for ECFAS elections, and that since people seemed to have liked it in the past, the provision had not been changed.


SF suggested that the amendment should contain an explicit clause that it is the responsibility of the PPC to report back to the Faculty at large; this met with general approval.


David Helfand voiced objection to the clause in 6.2 according to which fifty faculty signatures are necessary to add an additional candidate to the slate for PPC elections (beyond those nominated by the Nominating Committee), expressing the view that this number was too high.  There was some discussion of this matter.  Robert Jervis pointed out that this clause was unchanged from the original Rules.  He, as well as TB and AM cautioned that the Faculty should concentrate on the main amendment suggested now and that other changes might be undertaken later on.  Rosalind Morris added a strong plea for making the whole process more democratic, including changing the format of Faculty Meetings.


In conclusion, there was some discussion of how to inform the Faculty of the upcoming vote and ensure high participation.  ND stressed the central role of the Chairs and said that he would bring up the issue at the Chairs' meeting in the following week.


The meeting ended at 1:30pm.



Respectfully submitted,

Katharina Volk