Minutes

Meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Wednesday, February 18th, 2004

 

 

 

President Bollinger convened the meeting at 12:12 p.m.

 

1.      President Bollinger began his remarks with an update on the Manhattanville initiative.He noted that it is the primary opportunity for campus expansion for the University, being a 20-acre site on the waterfront which the City, as a partner with Columbia, hopes to revitalize.It is anticipated that over the coming several decades, it will yield approximately 5-7 million square feet of additional space.It will be the key not only to unlocking barriers to physical growth but will also serve as the engine to fire intellectual growth.Barring some major unforeseen impediment, the university expects to make some major announcements about this project in the next few months.

 

Bollinger reported that he and the Provost have been working closely with the Search Committee for the Vice President for Arts and Sciences.He expressed their deep gratitude to David Freedberg and the search committee for their continuing high-level of engagement during this second year of searching.He assured the faculty that the search was progressing well and that he was confident that there would be a new vice president named before the end of the current academic year.

 

He noted that planning for the science initiative continues apace and that a task force on globalization has been established, an action that reflects the broader societal globalizing phenomenon and the status of the university within this context.He ended his remarks by noting that much is afoot in the arena of alumni relations.There are a number of trips on the docket in conjunction with this yearís 250th anniversary celebration.The celebration will culminate in a major closing event in early October.

 

2.      It was moved, seconded and approved by majority vote that the minutes of the meeting on October 8th, 2003, be approved as prepared.

 

3.      Professor Carmela Franklin, chair the Executive Committee of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, introduced the agenda topics and then provided a brief update on the recent activities of the Executive Committee.

 

● She reported that the chair of the vice presidential search committee had met with ECFAS to provide a progress report.††

 

● She indicated that there had been a good response to the questionnaire that ECFAS had circulated to faculty.Respondents appear to represent the full spectrum of the Arts and Sciences, and the comments on the questionnaires reflect the thoughtful manner in which the faculty responded.

 

● For the rest of the semester, ECFAS will be turning its attention to the FY 05-07 budget submission and to the issue of research support at Columbia.

 

4.      Vice President Katznelson began his remarks with a reflection on what he saw as important to do in preparation for the arrival of the new vice president.He reported that he views one aspect of his role as an acting vice president to be facilitating the transition to the new vice president.He believes his primary contribution can be to help identify the sets of priorities, demands, opportunities and aspirations one might hold for the Arts and Sciences.He has launched, with various faculty committees and the department chairs, a discussion of how to ensure the goals of excellence in the Arts and Sciences, a planning exercise for the anticipated capital campaign and an articulation of the next steps in the science planning exercise.The results of these planning efforts will be available to the new vice president upon his/her arrival.

 

He reported on efforts to place the Arts and Sciences budget on a sounder footing for the longer run.He observed that the most heartening feature he has discovered during his year as acting vice president has been the tone and commitment of the broader university and the central administration to the core Arts and Sciences enterprise.

 

He corrected an item in his letter to the faculty that went out with the agenda to state that it is math that is one of the three pilot programs in the undergraduate initiative effort, not chemistry.He then went on give an update on Deputy Vice President Vicky Princeís post-surgery condition.He reported to the faculty that she is on a positive trajectory to recover.He concluded by announcing that a memorial service for Professor Edward Said is scheduled for March 3rd.

 

5.      Dean Henry Pinkham rose to give a report on the status of the Graduate School.He began by reminding faculty that they could find copies of the 2002 and 2003 report on the Graduate School website.He announced that the nine-month stipend for FY 05 will be $18,000.He went on to report that the Graduate School had enrolled 296 new Ph.D. students in Fall 2003, with 90% of the entering class coming in with funding.In addition, 346 new masterís only students matriculated in the Graduate School.For the first time in a number of years, the Graduate School experienced a 4% decline in number of applications; this was due entirely to a drop in applications from international students in light of the challenging visa situation.In fact, applications from domestic students are currently up for the fall 2004 entering class.

 

††††† Dean Pinkham reminded the faculty that, as we reflect on where things currently stand, it is very important to recall how very far we have come.He detailed several of the major achievements that have been accomplished in a very few number of years:

 

● Stipend levels have increased by significant amounts.Currently and for the coming year, they are at the same level as our more economically-endowed peers.†† 

 

● All fees and insurance costs are now covered for funded students.

 

● The cadre of unfunded Ph.D. students has been eliminated.

 

● As the size of the graduate population has decreased, there has actually been an increase in the number of fully funded students.
 
††††† Dean Pinkham acknowledged, however, that the size of the Ph.D. population is much on the minds of some departments.He noted that this has its origin in two concerns.One is the ability to meet teaching needs, a piece of which is surely the increased size of Columbia College, General Studies, SEAS and Barnard.Coupled with this, the Graduate School has established standards for what can be expected from teaching fellows and has significantly reduced the minimum levels for assigning teaching fellows to sections from well over 50 students to 30.
 
††††† The second contributor to the feelings of concern of the departments is the challenge they face in creating an intellectual community in some sub-fields.The Graduate School has come to believe that we are at threshold levels with respect to size in some of these fields and need now to begin conversations to develop criteria for deciding where increases would occur once new resources become available.He reminded faculty that it is important to explore other options for meeting teaching fellow needs before we use that as the criterion for growing the size of a departmentís graduate population.Among alternatives are the use of graduate students from other schools at Columbia, the addition of post-doctoral fellows, and the addition of faculty. 
 
††††† He called faculty attention to several other points related to graduate students: 

 

● Funding for graduate student support comes from undergraduate tuition.Because Columbiaís undergraduate population is the smallest in the Ivy League, the Arts and Sciences has had to turn to masterís only tuition to make-up the difference.

 

● Access to housing will be a concern if the number of graduate students is increased.While we have currently been able to house all Ph.D. students, we have been unable to house masterís students.This severely limits the ability of the graduate school to recruit a larger pool of masterís students whose tuition under-girds a portion of the Ph.D. support as noted above.

 

Comments and questions from the floor revealed the desire on the part of some departments to use any new dollars that might come available to add more students while other departments expressed the desire that those same dollars be used first to enhance further funding of existing students (e.g., travel grants, summer support, research grants, etc.).Professor Robert Jervis rose to remind the faculty of the report of the Committee on Undergraduate Education and its recommendation that four courses per semester with four points per course should be set as the norm for undergraduate instruction at Columbia.He suggested the establishment of a faculty-administrative committee to look at this.

 

6.      Dean Austin Quigley began discussion of the proposed undergraduate science core course by providing an overview of what the College thinks a good undergraduate education should have.He cited the following:

 

● A common intellectual experience that ensures that students engage materials in the co-curricular as well as the classroom environment.

 

● Diversity that extends beyond gender and race/ethnicity to include the economic, geographic, political and disciplinary.

 

● Development of skills of inquiry across a range of disciplines.

 

††††† He observed that the absence of science in the Core fails to acknowledge its societal centrality and the size of the investment the country is making in this domain.He noted that, as curriculum is the faculty responsibility, the question of the addition of a science course to the Core has been exposed to faculty in a range of venues.An A&S faculty forum on the topic was held in January; the Committee on Science Instruction has considered and endorsed the proposal; the Committee on the Core has deliberated and recommended its adoption; and todayís meeting is yet another of the opportunities being provided to faculty to consider this question.Assuming there is consensus today to move forward with the course as a pilot, the Committee on Instruction will consider it on the basis of all of the input it will have received.He closed his remarks by reminding faculty that the frontiers of science course actually is a one-semester course that replaces the third science course the students are already required to takeóit is not an additional requirement.

 

††††† Professor David Helfand then rose to provide a brief overview of the process by which the course had been developed.At the conclusion of his summary, he proposed that it become a part of the Core curriculum for a five-year pilot period, with a full array of formative and summative evaluation being conducted along the way.The Committee on Instruction will be asked to revisit the question of retaining it in the Core at the end of the five-year period.The consensus among those in attendance was that the faculty should move ahead with implementing the course for this pilot period.

 

††††† There being no other business before it, President Bollinger, by consensus, adjourned the meeting at 2:02 pm.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Prepared by

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Roxie R. Smith