The school year’s first University Senate meeting opened with a speech by Prezbo where he gave his perspective on the present and future of Columbia. He said that Columbia is in one of its “greatest eras.” He gave compliments to the new and some of the returning deans, praised the architectural changes around Columbia, and commented on the improvement of SEAS. While he cannot right now release financial data, he is confident that Columbia will retain the largest return on its endowment among universities with endowments over $1 billion and will remain in the top 5 of universities in terms of dollars coming in. He also stated that the university’s recent capital campaign was the 2nd most successful in US history.
On sexual assault, Prezbo stated that the there was a nationwide movement around the issue where every school needs to step up, and he believes Columbia has stepped up. He noted that he had discussions with students about sexual assault policy over the summer and wants to have more, but he had to institute a new policy before the beginning of the school year.
- The President’s Adivsory Committee on Sexual Assault (PACSA) had met before the meeting. They want to set up a working group that students can use to send their concerns to the committee. Sharyn O’Halloran is reviewing the data release and looking into collecting data about sexual assault in the student life survey in April.
- The Rules of Conduct Committee is continuing its work. In addition to the October and November town halls, there will be a “Meet and Greet” to discuss their work on October 22 and a possible third town hall in January with the committee’s recommendations.
- According to Columbia’s Chair of the Research Officer Committee, there are 2300 research officers at Columbia, up 27% since 2005 compared to an 11% growth in faculty and a 36% growth in administration. Among the Research Officers, there are 800 postdocs who get salary and benefits and 350 postdocs from fellowships who do not get healthcare benefits from the university, and the Chair wants to match sister institutions on Research Officer funding in order to attract more researchers.
- The Chair of the Research Officer Committee also noted “statistically significant” pay differentials based on race, ethnicity, and gender for Research Officers from two studies by the provost office released in May 2010 and February 2014.
Prezbo’s Laugh Line: After the new senators were introduced, Prezbo said he wasn’t going to introduce the returning senators and shared a humorous story from his time in law school. In the 80s, a professor who taught first-year property law explained to Prezbo and his fellow students students a general property law doctrine which did not exist in six states, which he would list to the students. The professor would then list the 44 states where the doctrine did exist.