Meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Thursday, October 27, 2005


President Bollinger convened the meeting at 12:10 p.m.


The minutes of the last meeting were approved by acclamation.


John Morgan began by introducing the members of ECFAS and urging the faculty to contact the committee via email with any concerns.  David Damrosch was elected Secretary of the Faculty by voice vote.



Vice President Nick Dirks reported on A&S activities of the fall:


He began by highlighting expansions in space (the new science building under construction, the move of two departments to Knox Hall and the opening up of space in Philosophy Hall), part of efforts to respond to immediate needs even as planning continues for the Manhattanville expansion.  The new science building on the northwest corner of the central campus aids in the enlargement of the natural science departments.  The building has three themes: biological imaging, chemical biology, and nanoscience, as developed by a working group of science faculty in cooperation with the architect; completion is set for 2009 or 2010.


Some 43 new tenured or tenure-track faculty have arrived this fall on campus, following a highly successful recruiting season in many departments across the full spectrum of A&S.  This momentum augurs well for our situation as we face retirements and build new strength.


Several departments are being rebuilt, including Political Science, Economics, and French, strengthening humanities even as we rebuild the natural and social sciences.  Many new connections and interactions among departments are under way, including initiatives in global studies, through regional institutes and other areas of need, including African studies.  New initiatives are under way in the arts, including building connections with Psychology.


The Office of the Vice President has been expanded with the appointment of Paul Anderer as Associate VP for Global Initiatives, working closely with Ann McDermott, Associate VP for Sciences.  A&S has been working closely with the deans and has been building up the Academic Review Committee to look beyond individual departments to include the overall context of academic planning.  Reviews are under way of the Center for Comparative Literature and Society, Math, Statistics, Sociology and ISIR, with several other planned.


The FY05 budget closed near target, with significant help from the central administration, and A&S is moving closer to balance for FY06 as well.  Salaries increased by a full percent over last year’s increase, by 4% instead of 3%.  Working closely with the faculty budget group, A&S is looking to deal with the challenges of FY07.


A new Capital Campaign is under development, closely coordinated with academic planning.  A new ECFAS committee will work to include faculty in fundraising efforts.  The first group of Lenfest-funded faculty will be announced shortly.  Jean Howard and her committee are planning for best use of the $15,000,000 committed by the central administration for minority/diversity hiring.


The greatest advance of the past year has been establishment of a new partnership with the Provost and President and with a range of faculty outside A&S itself, in areas including globalization, neuroscience, the arts, and others.



Provost Alan Brinkley reported on several initiatives:


The Tenure Review Committee’s report of last year has led to a new procedure for solicitation of outside letters: aiming now for 12-15 instead of 20-25, and soliciting the letters all at once, instead of in two phases.  This transitional year will require some adaptation by departments, but will improve the pace of the process greatly.


Second, the School Task Force’s work has led to a revised admission procedure for Columbia’s elementary school.  The head of the school stepped down last year; an acting head is in place, and a search is under way for a new Head.


Third, the Mellon Foundation has given Columbia a grant for a new category of faculty: interdisciplinary scholars and public intellectuals who may not fit neatly into departmental boundaries.  Marianne Hirsch is chairing a committee to plan for this.


Another grant of $550,000 will fund closer connections between Columbia and NYC institutions, particularly museums, to identify people who’d be drawn into Columbia’s orbit via the Heyman Center.  These could include independent artists and writers, probably 10 per year, plus two each year who’d come to teach for a semester.


This fall, a group has been convened of people involved in the arts at Columbia, to develop an overall arts strategy for the University and expand arts opportunities for undergraduates, as well as enhancing the role of the arts in the life of the University overall.


Finally, an initiative is under way on faculty life.  Improvements in the 1990s in student life haven’t been matched by improvements in the quality of faculty life.  Tory Higgins’ survey organized through ECFAS last year gives guidance on many issues of faculty concern.  The goal is to find ways to make life easier for all faculty, from processes for reimbursement, to childcare, and many other areas.



President Bollinger then took the floor.


He began his presentation by emphasizing the centrality of Arts & Sciences in the University’s enterprise.  The general goal is to strengthen Columbia’s stature as one of the world’s great universities.  How to structure things to accomplish this?  Scale is one key component; in almost every dimension, Columbia could improve significantly by expansion in students and faculty.  Space and money are the only things that constrain us.  The near-term initiatives (for the coming two years) include renovations and the move to use Knox.  On the medium term, the new science building will be completed in four or five years.


Manhattanville is the long-term solution.  The formal process is now under way, with re-zoning likely to occur in the spring, with strong support from the Mayor, Representative Charles Rangel, and many others.  Plans will be developed this year for what groups would move to the new campus.  A key goal is to dedicate the central Morningside Campus to the College/GS/SEAS/A&S.  A Manhattanville campus will also aid in increasing contact between the uptown and downtown campuses.


In Manhattanville, Columbia will provide a site for a public high school, to which the University community will also provide volunteer-basis academic support, helping to improve the numbers of girls and minorities going into the sciences and engineering.


Resources are always a challenge.  Fundraising is a major concern and has great potential.  Annual fundraising has risen from $280,000,000 recently to $340,000,000 this year, with $400,000,000 as a goal for the future.  A major new capital billion campaign is now in planning.


Space and money issues must be guided by an intellectual agenda.  It’s important to build in newly emergent areas, both within and across existing disciplines; life sciences (particularly, work on the brain) and globalization will require initiatives beyond disciplinary boundaries.


A question period followed.  Professor Cathy Popkin raised the issue of faculty time, a rarely discussed subject that could use direct attention in the Provost’s initiative on the quality of faculty life.  No further questions were raised.


There being no new business, the meeting was adjourned at 1:04 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,

David Damrosch