MINUTES OF THE ARTS AND SCIENCES FACULTY:
MEETING OF FEBRUARY 15, 2000
Convene & remarks: President George Rupp, the chairman, began the meeting at 12:10 pm in 207 Low Library. He expressed satisfaction that the main agenda item was the effort to enhance the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. GSAS expresses the core values of the University, he said. Outstanding graduate students will not only compose the next generation of faculty, but will also help attract the best faculty to Columbia, and strengthen Columbia's undergraduate programs by teaching important classes. The President said that the recallibration of ratios of undergraduate to graduate students that has been under way at least since he came to Columbia will also strengthen both programs. Unfortunately, the revenue expected from the enlargement and enhancement of Columbia College has been delayed because of the need for additional start-up investments. One of the legitimate uses of that revenue, when it arrives, is to strengthen graduate programs. The stakes are high, the President said, and the needs are many, including more laboratory space and faculty offices, better instructional facilities, more housing, more childcare and school facilities in grades K-8, and competitive faculty salaries. But the fundamental need in the long run is an outstanding Ph.D. program. In recent decades, the President said, Columbia became unhealthily dependent on paying Ph.D. students, and has had to work its way free of that burden. He was gratified that Columbia's current efforts are on course, but acknowledged that even greater investments will be required to keep pace with peer institutions, which are also strengthening their graduate programs.
Remarks from ECFAS: David Helfand, vice chair of the Executive Committee of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, stood in for the chair, Lynn Cooper, who was out of town. He said ECFAS has devoted considerable attention to a proposal to create a Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology, drafting a detailed response that drew on concerns expressed by A&S department chairs. The response expressed institutional concerns about creating a small new department in an environment where competition for resources is already intense. ECFAS is waiting for a report from the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, and hopes to make a recommendation at the April meeting about the proposal, which requires faculty approval.
Another issue that has come up repeatedly this semester is intellectual property. Prof. Helfand was happy to learn that a distinguished faculty committee is working on a draft copyright policy, to be completed in about a month.
Plans for the Graduate School, the subject of Dean Macagno's talk later in the meeting, have also been a regular topic of conversations between ECFAS and departments. Prof. Helfand said the enhancement plan is ahead of schedule and behind the times. When it was developed three years ago, the goal of assuring funding for 50 percent of first-year graduate students and continuing students seemed highly satisfactory, but in the meantime other schools have also enhanced their programs. In the coming year it will cost scientists $44,622 to support a single graduate student. Some peer institutions are supporting students entirely from fellowships, and not charging this cost to research grants at all. Referees on some Columbia grants are balking at the high cost of student support. This is a serious problem, with implications for financial aid for the whole Graduate School. Another problem is intensifying competition for prime students, who are extremely sensitive to the details of their financial aid packages. One recruit wanted roundtrip airfare home to India as a condition for coming to Columbia; some graduate schools are offering signing bonuses of up to $15,000, in addition to annual stipends at least as large as Columbia's.
Discussions between ECFAS and A&S departments have revealed a number of complaints about Human Resources, and about space problems.
Profs. Helfand and Cooper continue to participate in budget discussions in the Vice President's office. The news is largely good--the A&S budget is really in balance for the first time in more than a decade, and with increasingly conservative budget assumptions. Prof. Helfand's only reservation was that budget assumptions should not become so conservative, and fund balances so large, that vital A&S priorities remain underfunded.
The President noted that the agenda had passed by the approval of the minutes. Prof. Helfand said minutes were not available, but would be before the April meeting.
Robert Jervis asked about the work of a committee studying faculty size and composition. Prof. Helfand said this had been delayed, but would resume soon.
Remarks from Vice President David Cohen: In response to Prof. Helfand's remark on conservative budget assumptions, Dr. Cohen said he would love to see the day when there are discussions about whether fund balances are too large; he promised that when that day comes, he will be flexible.
Dr. Cohen said the year so far has been productive and relatively calm. He is trying to assign regular themes to the three A&S faculty meetings each year--the present meeting, and future midyear meetings, will focus on the Graduate School; April meetings, this year and in the future, will focus on the A&S budget.
Dr. Cohen responded to a request at the previous meeting from Prof. Robert Krauss for news on the implementation of the last year's recommendations from the classroom committee. He said substantial progress has been made on the physical conditions of classrooms and instructional facilities, and the recommendations for an earlier drop date are getting serious attention. Progress on sequestered classrooms, a complex issue, has been slower. A trickle of sequestered classrooms are coming under the control of the Registrar. An effort is under way to collect serious data on the use of these classrooms.
As for class scheduling, Dr. Cohen said Joseph Ienuso, University Registrar, is working with a group of departmental administrators to implement the classroom committee's recommendation to try to fit "off-schedule" classes into the University Schedule of Classes. The group is also considering whether the master schedule itself should be revised. By the fall of 2000, classes assigned to large lecture halls (with a capacity of 75 or more) or electronic classrooms during prime time must have enrollments of at least 70 percent of the capacity of the room. Another step is for the Registrar, at the close of the add/drop period, to identify classes with enrollments of zero, of 1-5, and of a number larger than the classroom's capacity. The idea is to cancel the classes with zero enrollment, and to persuade professors to move very small classes to an office. The committee is still trying to understand the complexities of the issue, in order to define a prudent plan of action.
Mr. Ienuso said the largest challenge is the compression of classes into the block of time between 10 am and 2 pm, Monday-Thursday. He said that while there are good reasons to keep Fridays as free of classes as possible, it is necessary to schedule more classes before 10 and after 2 on the other days.
Mr. Ienuso responded to comments from Prof. Helfand and Prof. Lois Putnam.
Prof. Krauss, who chaired the classroom committee, said it is essential to settle the issue of student drops before figuring out guidelines for the number of students per classroom. Dr. Cohen said the enforcement of a new drop policy would likely begin with the classes entering in the fall. Prof. Krauss expressed doubts about such a delay.
Kathryn Yatrakis, Associate Dean of Columbia College, said the College COI is considering enacting the policy for the freshman class entering in the fall. They will hear from the student council on February 23 and then make a decision. This is one issue, she said, where all the "adults" seem to feel one way, and the students the other way.
Mr. Ienuso said his office plans to send electronic rosters to faculty as early as possible.
Update on the Graduate School: GSAS Dean Eduardo Macagno slides with graphs and tables about the GSAS enhancement plan, and made the following points:
--The main goal of the plan is to provide funding for a larger fraction of Ph.D. students. Columbia's peers fund about 90 percent of their grad students.
--Since 1992, applications to Ph.D. programs in the Humanities and Social Sciences have been up and down, while there's a clear upward trend in the Natural Sciences. Both Social Sciences and Natural Sciences will have record numbers of applications this year. Selectivity has increased over this span, particularly with the deliberate effort to reduce the size of some of the programs, while the yield (the proportion of students who accept Columbia's offer of admission) has stayed about the same. Dean Macagno attributed the recent dip in yield in the Natural Sciences to increasing competition for the best students.
--The number of entering students is decreasing significantly, from about 400 in 1992 to about 300 next year. GSAS hopes to stabilize the the incoming class at that level.
The reduction in the number of unfunded students meant a drop in revenue that cost GSAS some funded students. But the proportion of internally funded students has been rising, from about 40 percent in the Humanities and Social Science in the early 1990s, to about 50 percent now, and is still headed upward. But the main reduction in the number of unfunded students resulted not from a Columbia decision, but from an abrupt change in the market--these students stopped coming.
--What happens to the population of students? Columbia has an unusually high number of students who have stayed beyond their seventh year. Since 1995 the total population has declined from about 2500 to about 2300, partly because of a concerted effort to help students finish their degrees sooner. If current enhancement efforts succeed, then in five years there should be fewer students, better retention, and a much smaller group who have been here longer than seven years.
--By the third year, about 20 percent of the Ph.D. students are gone from each division. The school expects to see some early attrition, but it should be leveling off in the later years. The current attrition rate is too high.
--The median time to degree in the Humanities and Social Sciences is high, but has come down slightly, from 8 1/2 years to 8. The guideline time limit is 7 years.
--One table showed how Mellon Fellows in Humanistic Studies have fared in different Ph.D. programs. Dean Macagno was displeased to learn that fewer Columbia Mellon Fellows have completed their degrees than their counterparts at at any of the other schools, and that the median number length of time to degree is about a year longer than at any of the other schools.
--GSAS is now awarding about 200 Ph.D.'s a year.
Dean Macagno responded to questions from Profs. Jed Parkin, Barbara Fields, and John Rosenberg.
--M.A.-only programs have made an important contribution in replacing income from paying Ph.D. students that has been lost. Eighteen of the M.A. programs are in departments, 15 are interdepartmental, and 8 are in Liberal Studies. Total enrollment in the departmental programs, including part-time students, is now 224, with the largest groups in Statistics (87), East Asian (27), English (27), Anthropology (18), and Political Science (16). The interdepartmental M.A.s have grown from a single program with 10 students in 1994 to 12 programs with a total enrollment of 126 this year. The great successes have been Mathematics of Finance (32), Japanese Pedagogy (30), and Critical Studies in Modern Art (20). Expectations are high for Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences. Enrollments have held steady in the Liberal Studies program since 1994. Total revenues from the M.A. programs have climbed from about $2 million in 1994-95 to about $6 million this year.
--In the Humanities 61 percent of incoming students now have some kind of funding (full or partial, internal or external), 89 percent have it in years 2-5, and 72 percent in years 6-7. In the Social Sciences, the levels are 50 percent in year 1, 83 percent in years 2-5, and 44 percent in years 6-7. In the Natural Sciences the funding levels are generally 100 percent for these time periods. Reduction of time to degree would enable GSAS to provide better funding for students over a shorter time span. So far GSAS has been able to make up the funding that has been lost with the expiration of the Mellon grant funds, and the caps on tuition that have been added to NIH grants.
Dean Macagno stressed the following remaining financial challenges for GSAS:
--Increasing fellowships to a competitive level. Next year, with difficulty, GSAS will raise its stipend from $12,000 to 13,000; Harvard's stipend, meanwhile, will rise from $13,500 to $15,000. If GSAS cannot do more, it will fall further behind.
--Reducing the amount of tuition charged to research grants, as peer institutions are doing.
Other goals are lowering the average time to degree in the Humanities and Social Sciences to less than 7 years; providing excellent teacher training; and increasing the number of underrepresented minority students, who now comprise barely 3 percent of the GSAS student population.
Dean Macagno concluded with an update on fundraising: the goal of $20 million for the current GSAS campaign, which ends in December 2000, is in sight: $12.7 million have come in so far, and a new $10 million gift is expected. The next priority will be to build up the GSAS endowment, with the help of the excellent staff working with the School at the Office of University Development and Alumni Relations. Stanford recently announced a campaign to raise $300 million for graduate fellowships in the sciences. Other peers are pursuing similar goals. One successful effort to cultivate GSAS alumni has been to make significant improvements in Career Services.
Dean Macagno concluded his remarks by stressing the acuteness of the housing problem for GSAS students and post-docs, which has been exacerbated by intense demand for both undergraduate and faculty housing, and by the growth in the student population in the M.A programs.
Dean Macagno responded to a question about graduate student teaching loads by saying that students should not be teaching so much that they can's make progress toward their degree. He said the goal is to provide enough fellowship so that students don't have to do large amounts of teaching. For graduate students, teaching is fundamentally part of their training, not a way to make money.
Prof. Paul Anderer pointed out that the large number of students in M.A.-only programs in his department, East Asian Languages and Cultures, has made it possible for EALAC to provide full funding for all Ph.D. students since 1989. EALAC has remained committed to this principle, and has been able to attract the best students, and get them through the program and into good jobs. To some extent this has meant off-loading a problem in a tuition-driven graduate school, by shifting from paying Ph.D. students to paying M.A. students. Dean Macagno added that Political Science and Anthropology have derived similar benefits from their M.A. programs.
Another professor commented that peer institutions--not only Stanford and MIT, but also Berkeley, Wisconsin, and Michigan--are charging nothing for graduate student tuition on their research grants, putting Columbia at a severe disadvantage. His second point was that the gap between the cost of maintaining a graduate student and maintaining a post-doc has shrunk to between 10 percent and 30 percent. This situation--already bad for the Graduate School--is likely to get worse.
Dean Macagno replied that Natural Sciences departments have not gotten nearly as much support from M.A.-only programs as their counterparts in Humanities and Social Sciences. He said Columbia groups--both faculty and administration--have to look for opportunities. In Chemistry, for example, there is no good reason why Columbia should have fewer NSF Fellows among its Ph.D. candidates than Berkeley or Stanford.
Another professor pointed out the need to standardize the different application forms so that applicants filling out the internet form have the same information as other applicants. Dean Macagno said this problem has been corrected.
Overview of the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning: Frank Moretti, director of the center, said its purpose is to support faculty in developing new media applications in their teaching. He said it is important to understand the partnership between Teachers College and Columbia Academic Computing and Information Services (ACIS) that the center represents. The center resulted from a recommendation in a May 1998 report, and began work in February 1999. It is run by a board of faculty members and administrators led by Raphael Kasper, Associate Vice Provost. So far the center has registered 232 faculty members, and involved them in projects ranging from putting their courses on-line in the center's template to advanced collaborations. All Columbia schools are taking part, but the center is also establishing a satellite site at Health Sciences.
Mr. Moretti demonstrated the course template on a screen by showing Prof. Allen Brinkley's course America Since 1945. He said that a MicroSoft file of a syllabus could easily be put in the template, with easy links to the Libraries or other web research sources. Prof. Brinkley's site also has an electronic bulletin board, with listings for all the course's discussion groups. The bulletin board not only conveys course news, but also serves as a forum for asynchronous discourse about course material.
At the President's request, Mr. Moretti listed some of the center's current projects:
--a distance learning initiative that will provide a complete master's degree for students in Public Health. The program, now offered at 2 different sites, will be expanded to 14 sites in the next 18 months.
--a multimedia template that will provide a kind of annotation for a complex text that includes color-coded web links not only to textual research resources but also to musical, video, and graphic displays. He demonstrated this approach with Fredric Jameson's essay "Post-modernism and the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism." Similar projects are under way for King Lear, Augustine, Milton, Edmund Burke, and other authors and works taught in the Humanities curriculum. The template can serve as both a complex slide projector for class presentations, and as a resource for students on their own. All the current projects are listed on the center's website.
--Most of the music faculty, led by Ian Bent, have used the center extensively. A sonic glossary, linking musical terms to examples, is used in the classroom and by students on their own. The on-line music reserves offer some 40 hours of music. Another feature, called a music training environment, enables students to practice ear training with intervals, chords, and melodies.
Mr. Moretti said the center offers a series of workshops, whose content is also on-line, so faculty can work through them on their own. They should feel free to ask questions if they hit a snag.
In response to a question from Elaine Sisman, Mr. Moretti said a course in the regular academic program presented on the web with the help of the center stays online for three semesters. She asked if faculty who learn to put up their own courses will still have to give up copyright to the University. Mr. Moretti said he will require nothing of faculty unless they use the center.
Prof. Jim Zetzel said he would not use the center until the question of copyright is resolved. He also expressed concern that some section bulletin boards are public. Mr. Moretti said faculty can choose to restrict access to the bulletin board.
The President asked Provost Cole to comment on current efforts to develop a new copyright policy. The Provost said his Committee on Intellectual Property, composed mostly of faculty with strong representation from the Arts and Sciences, is hard at work and expects to publish a draft in mid-March, to be presented on the web. A comment period will follow, including a number of open meetings and review by the University Senate. The committee will then make revisions, expecting to produce a final draft that will come before the Senate at its last session at the end of April. The Provost hoped to present the policy to the Trustees for approval in June. He urged all faculty to comment on the draft when it appears. He said the committee is committed to preserving basic norms of academic freedom and expression, with an understanding that the University should hold the copyright in some initiatives in which it invests substantial resources, sharing the proceeds with the creators and their departments or schools. A point of departure for the policy now in formation is an affirmation of faculty rights to "traditional" works like monographs, books, and articles.
There being no new business, the President adjourned the meeting at 1:50 pm.