From the Senate
Senate Ponders Its Role, Passes 3 Resolutions
At their final meeting of the academic year, Senate members passed three resolutions, received the annual committee reports and, in light of recent campus turmoil, reflected on the relevance of the Senate itself at the end of its 27th year of existence.
Recently, student protesters disrupted campus and academic activity with demands for an ethnic studies department and a de-Westernizing reform of the Core Curriculum. During the crisis, many had asked why the Senate, which was originally established after student demonstrations in 1968 to insure that those with grievances had a place to go to be heard, failed in this case to make a difference. The members wondered whether the Senate is unknown to students or is viewed as an unworkable forum, or simply failed to be alert and responsive.
The first resolution was to establish a Committee on Promotional Policy and Salary Equity. Building on past provostial studies of salary equity for female professors, this resolution called for several innovations. First, the study would include officers of every category--libraries, research and administration. Second, it would add all the other protected categories. Third, the effects (if any) of University promotional practices on salary levels would be investigated.
Two educational resolutions were also passed, one an M.A. degree in Japanese language pedagogy, the other a Ph.D. in environmental health sciences. The former was unprecedented as a Columbia Master's degree devoted to teaching methods. It will also be the only M.A. degree offered exclusively during Summer Session and taught by non-Columbia faculty.
Annual Committee Reports
- The Faculty Affairs Committee wrote the following on the patent policy: "The Committee was approached by the administration seeking revisions of the current policy, which was written by Faculty Affairs in the 80s. The Committee discerned that one half of the proposed changes were required merely to update the policy in light of changes in federal law, while the other half foreshadowed substantive changes in the University's claim to ownership of copyrighted intellectual property produced by the faculty. We agreed to move as quickly as the University desired on the first set of amendments, and demurred on the second set though discussions will continue."
- The Budget Review Committee wrote the following on the transition to greater budget decentralization and the itemization of common costs: "While it is absolutely necessary, in times of financial stringency such as these, for the University to have a clear idea of costs and revenues, there is a risk that the relative clarity of budgetary numbers will encourage dollars to dominate ideas... in being aware of the price of the various activities of a university, we must remain constantly aware of their value as well... we feel that is something that can happen insensibly--and should not."
- The Libraries Committee reported the following on budget priorities: "The largest and most intractable problem with which we are concerned remains that of inadequate library financing within the University as a whole. Unfortunately, this problem becomes more visible every year... Since 1987, the proportion of University expenditures that has gone to the library has declined by close to one-third: from 3.3 percent to 2.5 percent. This trend is a danger to us all. We cannot permit it to continue."
The next Senate meeting will take place in September.
Columbia University Record -- May 10, 1996 -- Vol. 21, No. 26