Meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Wednesday, February 12, 2003




President Bollinger convened the meeting of the Faculty of the Arts and Sciences at 12:10 p.m.


1.                  President Bollinger began by calling attention to his recent email announcing that the search for the new Vice President for Arts and Sciences had been launched.  Professor David Freedberg is chairing the search committee, and President Bollinger expressed his deep appreciation for the committee’s efforts in this endeavor.  He went on to discuss the search for the new Provost.  He reported that he has been talking to many people around Columbia and nationally to identify a pool of prospects.  These conversations have served to clarify his thinking on the position, although he indicated that he was not yet fully settled on all aspects of it.  He assured the faculty that he expected to identify the new provost within the next month or so and that this would give time for the new provost to have input into the Vice Presidential search process.


He then indicated that he is continuing his efforts to learn about the institution.  He cited space as an area to which he is devoting a good deal of attention.  He observed that space will be critical if the institution is to move forward in any meaningful programmatic way.  He also stated that he was aware of the needs within the Arts and Sciences for an increase in faculty size, and that he expects to announce a plan within the next month or so regarding that need.


He expressed his deep appreciation to everyone who has been involved with the Midnight’s Children Project.  He indicated that he views it as a significant cultural endeavor for Columbia.


He then went on to talk about the budget.  He noted that Columbia continues to be quite strong relative to other institutions in this regard, particularly the public institutions.  He reported that the central administration would be holding growth to 1% annually for each of the next two years as part of efforts to contain costs.  He told the faculty that Columbia is essentially in a holding pattern with respect to the fiscal circumstances beyond FY 04 and FY 05.  He expressed his hope that things would turn around but acknowledged that, if the economy does not pick up, the institution will have to take more stringent steps to address the fiscal realities that a continued downturn would occasion.


President Bollinger reported that he intends to invest considerable effort during spring semester to engaging alums.  He said that he views the 250th anniversary of the university as an important fundraising opportunity. 


With respect to the case related to affirmative action scheduled for presentation to the Supreme Court, he reported that they are in the final stages of preparation.  It is expected that the Supreme Court will make its decision by the end of the year.  If the decision is negative, it will have a significant impact on Columbia.  To that end, Columbia and a number of other institutions are filing amicus briefs.


2.                  It was moved, seconded, and approved by majority vote that the minutes of the meeting on October 15, 2002 be approved as prepared.


3.                  Vice President Cohen opened the discussion on the proposal to establish renewable term appointments for lecturers in the Arts and Sciences by providing some context for the proposal.  He indicated that, currently, associates and lecturers with unmodified titles are unable to hold their appointments beyond the seventh year.  A survey was done of peer institutions and it was found that Columbia was an exception in this regard, with other institutions making provision for renewable term appointments for full-time lecturers and associates.  He noted that, in 1987, the Senate had approved a similar appointment structure for full-time lecturers in language and music associates, and indicated that the proposal comes before the faculty after extensive discussion and endorsement by the deans, departmental chairs and the Executive Committee of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. 


Vice President Cohen went on to call attention to several other aspects of the proposal, noting in particular the rigorous review process that would be implemented for these appointments and that the number of lecturers in these appointments may not exceed 6% of the total professorial rank faculty in the Arts and Sciences.  The proposal currently excludes the Departments of the Arts and International and Public Affairs but had not excluded the School of Continuing Education as it had not yet become a degree-granting school.  It will also be exempted from the cap.  In concluding his remarks, Vice President Cohen indicated that this proposal was initiated by the faculty, not the administration, but that it is one that he strongly supports.


Professor Helfand rose to oppose the proposal.  His reasons for doing so included the fact that no courses had been excluded from the array of courses that a lecturer could teach.  Further, he stated his belief that the producers of knowledge should be the conveyors of knowledge.  Professor Jervis added his voice to the concern about what is and is not appropriate for full-time lecturers to teach. 


In response to a question about numbers, Vice President Cohen cited the governors that would limit proliferation of such appointments:  a)  It is unlikely that many departments will come forward with requests for such appointments as they would replace professorial rank faculty.   b)  Lecturer positions would be rationed by their having to be approved by the vice president and deans in the course of the annual review process for Instructional Budget Statements.  Vice President Cohen then spoke to the issue of the appropriateness of what lecturers can teach.  He stated that he himself believes that the faculty have to have confidence in the reasonableness of departments with respect to decisions about content.  Professor Breslow rose to describe the situation in the Chemistry department as an argument for why decisions on lecturers’ and associates’ teaching assignments need to be departmentally based.


Professor Kelley rose to speak in support of the proposal.  She noted that the primary argument for it is that it benefits the students.  Not only does it ensure strong teaching in areas not necessarily represented elsewhere in the departmental faculty, but it will also ensure greater continuity among personnel.  It is her experience that lecturers do their job very well and that, if the faculty is to take pedagogy seriously, it has to make provision for career paths that recognize pedagogues in a serious way.  Professor O’Halloran supported Vice President Cohen’s earlier statements about the importance of taking the review process most seriously.  Professor Friedman, noting that the proposal prohibits the movement of professorial rank faculty into the lecturer ranks, asked whether Directors of Instruction might move into this track.  His question was responded to in the affirmative.  Professor Jervis reiterated the hope that, as the structures were put in place for this career track, more elaborated guidelines regarding what lecturers could and could not do would be developed.  Professor Weinberg observed that the real concern might more appropriately be phrased as what regular professorial rank faculty would no longer be doing, and Professor Foner asked for clarification on what would keep a future vice president from forcing a department to take a lecturer rather than an assistant professor that it might have requested.  Vice President Cohen responded that he found that scenario unlikely.


Following discussion, Vice President Cohen summarized the sense of the faculty.  He noted the general endorsement of the proposal but acknowledged the clear call for a) the Faculty Development Committee to devote time to thinking in some detail about implementation of the review structures and, b) the Vice President and deans to think carefully when they reviewed the first cycle of such positions.


4.                  Dean Henry Pinkham presented the update on the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.  He called the faculty’s attention to the annual report on the ECFAS website.  He began his report by noting that the Graduate School is in quite good shape now.  While the focus of his remarks would be on concerns, he wanted to be sure that those did not overshadow the fact that the school is doing quite well.


--The school has achieved its goal of full funding for 90% of the incoming students.  It seeks now to move to 100%.  In response to a question from the floor, he clarified the policy on unfunded students.  Departments no longer have quotas of unfunded students that they must admit.  Departments must be prepared to allocate fellowship support to any unfunded student it admits beginning in year two of the student’s tenure at Columbia.  A department can admit an unfunded student if it wishes, assuming that the student meets the standards for quality.  However, departments must understand that, under the full funding model, their target is now the maximum number of students they can admit, whether they are funded or unfunded.


--The Arts and Sciences will need to find ways to replace the instructional needs that are emerging as a result of downsizing of the Graduate School.  He noted that this is a wide-spread problem in all universities that have gone to the full funding model and is not unique to Columbia.  At Columbia, however, it is exacerbated by the commitment to small class size.


--Greater attention needs to be given to the professional training component of the Ph.D.  This includes preparation for non-academic roles and training for teaching.  Improving the training for teaching is the rationale for seeking to develop a teaching center.


--Space represents an acute situation for graduate students, many humanities and social sciences departments have no space for their graduate students, including no space for them to meet with students in the classes for which they serve as teaching fellows.  Ideally, it would be important to create a communal space, such as a Graduate Student Center, where all graduate students could congregate.  They do not currently use Lerner and thus have access to no such facility. 


Responding to the statements about the need for improved training for teaching, Professor Breslow described the efforts in the Department of Chemistry to train teaching fellows.


Professor Shapiro asked about the status of unionization.  Dean Pinkham indicated that they were waiting for a decision from the National Labor Relations Board.  Provost Cole gave an overview of a number of cases currently on the NLRB agenda. 


At that point, the focus of the discussion shifted and a question was asked regarding plans for any further increases in the size of the undergraduate student body.  Provost Cole reported that Columbia College will enroll the last enlargement cohort in fall 2003, at which point it will have reached steady state; modest increases may be seen in General Studies.  Dean Awn noted that enrollments in the post-baccalaureate pre-med program had reached the maximum level of about 450 students.  He reported that General Studies is working on a long-range plan that would specify possibly additional growth in the BA/BS program and resources required for such growth (e.g., faculty, access to housing, etc.).  The plan will be completed in the fall.  


5.                  Professor Andy Nathan, chair of the Executive Committee of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, began his report by introducing the members of ECFAS present at the meeting.  He then described the consultative process in which the committee has been engaged.  He noted that everyone with whom the committee has talked had been generous with both their time and the quality of the information they provided.  Professor Nathan reported that the Executive Committee was reassured by the state of the Arts and Sciences.  He highlighted the interrelated nature of the enterprise and acknowledged some of its challenges. 


He next gave an overview of the key sections of the Executive Committee’s letter included in the call for the meeting.  He called attention to the goals for administration and faculty governance (noting that faculty want to have a central role in the priority setting process in the current budgetary environment) and the summary of their work to date.  He then invited faculty discussion of the questions at the bottom of pages 6 and 7 in their letter and encouraged faculty to ask any additional questions they might have.


Professor Sisman reiterated the importance of thinking about issues related to faculty.  Vice President Cohen described three aspects to be considered about instructional support – securing eminence, increasing the size of the faculty, and improving the salaries of continuing faculty.  He noted that it will be important to have a sense of the faculty regarding the balance among these three competing demands.  Professor Jervis asked how any increase in faculty size might be funded given the flatness of the income stream.


6.                  Professor Helfand presented the report of the Committee on Arts and Sciences Fundraising.  He began by reminding the faculty that the Arts and Sciences is dependent upon tuition for 85% of its revenues.  He then returned the theme of the capital campaign which was to raise 50 substitutional chairs for the Arts and Sciences.  A total of 42 have been raised; however, their December 2002 market value was only $47 million rather than the $75 million that had been envisioned.  Professor Helfand observed that if the rest of the chairs and the outstanding pledges were to be realized, the endowment level would increase from $47 million to $58 million.


He reported that the Committee on Arts and Sciences Fundraising had had several meetings with representatives from UDAR.  He cited the openness of UDAR in discussing its current status and in describing the future of fundraising at Columbia. 


Vice President Susan Feagin was called upon to provide an overview of current planning and activities in UDAR.  These include:


--building on the foundation of the capital campaign

--restructuring UDAR with respect to both organization and culture

--more actively involving faculty in fundraising going forward

--involving trustees in fundraising

--shifting to a culture of greater accountability


She closed by emphasizing the fundamental operating principle that fundraisers do not set priorities and expressing appreciation to Vice President Cohen and the deans who had reached out to her and her staff in the spirit of welcome and collaboration since her arrival.


There being no further business to come before the body, the meeting was by consensus adjourned at 1:40 PM.



                                                                                                Prepared by


                                                                                                Roxie R. Smith

                                                                                                Associate Vice President