Category: Administration

In a recent email to the Barnard community, Provost Linda Bell addressed the fact that the union of the adjunct faculty at Barnard, who are currently in negotiation with the College, have decided on a strike deadline. She shared the College’s perspective on the proposals they have offered and informed the community that the College remains committed to fairness.

 

Dear Members of the Barnard Community,

This morning we learned that the bargaining committee for the Barnard Contingent Faculty Union (BCF)-UAW has set a strike deadline of February 21, 2017 if no contract agreement has been reached by that date. We are disappointed by this action given progress to date, but we continue to hope and trust that the strike deadline has been imposed to alert both the unit rank-and-file and the College administration of the urgency and intent to reach a fair and reasonable first contract. We remain fully committed to this effort, and our primary concern is, and it has always been, the efficacy of our academic program and the education we are able to offer our students.

I am happy to share that progress has been achieved on key economic and non-economic terms, and that even the bargaining committee’s own notice to its members acknowledges this progress. Moreover, the Union’s statement this morning accepts the College’s recommendation that a federal mediator be engaged in order to bring an independent viewpoint to the important issues that continue to divide us.

When I last wrote to you, on December 8, the Union had voted to empower its leadership to strike as necessary, despite our substantive economic proposal and ongoing negotiations that had yielded progress on key non-economic terms. Furthermore, the Union leadership waited until December 15 to make its first response to an economic proposal that had been on the table since August 2, and unilaterally cancelled a bargaining session set for December 22 only hours before it was to take place. The College has continued to come to each of the 27 bargaining sessions since February 2016 prepared and ready to negotiate in good faith. Since December 8, we have presented multiple substantive proposals that we believe can bring the sides closer, including two revisions to our wage offer and the introduction of new benefit terms.

Of the substantive issues that remain, one concerns the mechanisms for appointments and assignments (what the Union refers to as seniority), and the other, compensation. The College has broken new ground on both.

Over the past year, we have offered unprecedented notice regarding appointments, security in course load, raises in pay and improved access to benefits, including at our most recent bargaining session on January 20.

On the issue of appointments and assignments, we believe strongly that the departments themselves should decide how best to maintain the integrity of the academic program and determine whether and how certain courses will be taught in any given semester. This same discretion has been our long-term practice and has been exercised in making assignments for all faculty. Both current and former department chairs have told us that they view this flexibility as crucial to the academic functioning of the College. We simply cannot and will not guarantee specific course assignments to individuals in perpetuity, as the Union has proposed, as this would compromise our academic mission and the superb quality of the education we offer our students.

However, in order to address the Union’s concern regarding job security, we have offered two measures that would increase individuals’ employment security in other ways that do not compromise our mission. First, we have offered to move to year-long appointments for all part-time faculty, an improvement over our current semester-by-semester appointment process. Thus, part-time faculty would receive more advance notice, more predictable schedules, and the ability to plan their full academic year. Second, in deference to the Union’s notion that seniority should increase employment security, we have also introduced a proposal to offer adjunct faculty who have served the College over time the guarantee of either longer-term appointments or separation pay in the event that they are not reassigned teaching. More details: https://barnard.edu/hr/bcf-uaw-negotiations/strike-faqs#appoint.

The College has twice modified its wage proposal since the Union’s response on December 15. Specifically, our latest proposal increases minimum course pay rates three times over four years and provides a 2 percent pay increase each year, beginning in fall 2017, for individuals making above the minimum course rate. More details: https://barnard.edu/hr/bcf-uaw-negotiations/strike-faqs#proposal. Under the College’s proposal, all adjunct faculty will be guaranteed improved economic terms throughout the life of the contract, and no unit member—even those earning well above the minimum per-course rate—will be negatively impacted. Furthermore, our proposed minimum rates are positioned to be competitive, and are significantly higher than minimum rates offered to adjunct faculty in many similar colleges and universities in New York City and in other high-cost areas in the United States.

In contrast, the Union’s proposal sets both minimum rates and benefit terms that are untenable. In the first year alone, the proposal would cost an incremental $3.3 million; it would force the College to make deep cuts to the annual budget that would adversely affect the academic program.

In addition to setting fair and equitable minimum wage rates, we have responded positively and demonstrably to the Union’s request that all unit faculty, including those working part-time, have the ability to participate in the College’s health insurance plan. For adjunct faculty teaching a half-time equivalent load or more (nine points or more in a given academic year), the College will contribute 50 percent of the contribution that it makes to full-time faculty. Adjunct faculty teaching less than 9 points in any given year would have the option to buy in to the College’s Plan A at their own personal cost.

The College has worked hard to bargain in good faith with the goal of ensuring our part-time and term faculty a fair and equitable contract that addresses their most important concerns. We are gratified that the Union has accepted our request for a federal mediator. We see the mediator role as a useful and time-honored resource for bridging remaining differences, and in so doing, serving our larger community. The process of mediation will take time. Should we find ourselves unable to reach a first contract by the February 21 strike deadline, and should the Union decide to strike, the College will continue to operate as normally as possible.

As has been the practice for the past year, I will continue to keep the community informed of our progress through written updates, as well as in-person meetings with faculty, staff, students and alumnae leaders. As always, please understand that our overarching goal remains a fair first contract that recognizes the talent and commitment of our contingent faculty, and that protects the vitality of the academic program and our core mission as an institution.

Sincerely,

Linda A Bell
Provost & Dean of the Faculty

In an email sent to students earlier today, Dean of Columbia College, James Valentini, has notified students of the passing of Ezekiel “Zeke” Reiser, a Columbia College student who entered with the Class of 2014. Reiser, son of adjunct faculty members from GSAPP passed away over the weekend.

The full email can be found below:

Dear Students,

I am devastated to be writing to you again about the passing of a Columbia College student. Ezekiel “Zeke” Reiser, who was the son of adjunct faculty members in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (GSAPP) and entered Columbia College with the Class of 2014, died this weekend at his family’s home in New York.

Below is a message sent by Dean Amale Andraos to the GSAPP faculty, which includes memorial information for Zeke.

I know that many of you are still healing from other recent news. Each loss we experience takes a toll, and this has been and continues to be an incredibly difficult time for us all.

Please continue to take care of yourselves and each other and don’t hesitate to reach out to the staff throughout the University here to support you, including clinicians from Counseling and Psychological Services (212-854-2878), staff from the Office of the University Chaplain (212-854-1493), your advisers in the Berick Center for Student Advising (212-854-6378), and your Residential Life staff, including your RAs.

My thoughts are with Zeke’s family and friends, and all of you.

James J. Valentini
Dean of Columbia College and
Vice President for Undergraduate Education

cc:  Mary C. Boyce, Dean of The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science

Resources

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: GSAPP Dean’s Office <deansoffice@arch.columbia.edu>
Date: Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at 4:44 PM
Subject: Zeke Reiser

Dear Friends and colleagues,

It is with great sadness that I share the heartbreaking news of the death of Zeke Reiser, the son of our colleagues Nanako Umemoto and Jesse Reiser, this past weekend. Zeke was also a member of the Columbia community as a student at Columbia College.

A memorial ceremony is planned for 2 pm on Wednesday January 25th, at the home of Deborah Reiser, 28 South Washington Ave, Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522.

Sincerely,
Amale

Amale Andraos
Dean, Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation
Columbia University, New York

In a press release today, Columbia has announced outgoing Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew will begin teaching as a Visiting Professor at SIPA starting next month.

The full press release can be found below:

Columbia University announced that outgoing Secretary of the Treasury Jacob “Jack” Lew would be joining its School of International and Public Affairs faculty as a visiting professor in February. He will lecture, teach graduate students, and work with faculty members at the school and across the University on the subjects of international economics, fiscal and trade policy, and a range of other public policy issues.

“As a school committed to the highest level of both academic scholarship and producing leaders in public policy and international relations, we are delighted to have someone with Secretary Lew’s unique government leadership experience join us,” said Dean Merit E. Janow, herself a former Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative who later served as one of the seven members of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Appellate Body. “At a time when we are all concerned with issues of global economic growth, trade and finance, our federal budget, tax system and the challenge of creating economic opportunity, Jack Lew brings insights borne of years of experience from the academy and the most senior decision making roles in the US and global economy.”

“Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs is central to the university’s mission of applying scholarly expertise and practical experience to understanding the world and addressing its problems,” said Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger. “Our university community is better able to serve that mission when we welcome leaders like Secretary Lew who possess deep first-hand knowledge about the workings of the U.S. government and international institutions. He will be an invaluable addition to our faculty, and an asset for our students who will benefit greatly from all that he has to teach them.”

“SIPA is at the forefront of tackling critical policy challenges facing the global community. I am delighted to have the opportunity to share my experience with talented young people who aspire to engage in the world of public policy and international affairs. I am impressed with the strength of Columbia’s faculty, students and thought leadership and look forward to making a contribution to the education of a new generation of leaders,” said Jacob J. Lew.

Secretary Lew has led the Treasury Department since 2013. He took office as the U.S. economy was struggling to regain its footing after the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. He helped lead the U.S. economy to its current foundation of economic growth and declining unemployment.

Prior to serving as Treasury Secretary, Lew was White House Chief of Staff and Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), a position he also held from 1998 to 2001. As White House Chief of Staff, Lew advised the President on issues from politics to policy. Before joining the Obama administration in 2009, initially as Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, Lew served as a managing director and chief operating officer at Citigroup, and executive vice president and chief operating officer of New York University, where he was also a professor of public administration.

As OMB Director from 1998 to 2001, Lew led the Clinton Administration’s budget team and served as a member of the National Security Council. He was Special Assistant to the President from 1993 to 1994.

Lew began his career in Washington in 1973 as a legislative aide. From 1979 to 1987, he was a principal domestic policy advisor to House Speaker Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr.

A graduate of Harvard College and Georgetown University Law Center, Lew is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the National Academy of Social Insurance. His appointment will begin on February 1, 2017.

In an email sent to members of the Columbia community earlier today, the University has confirmed the passing of Yi-Chia “Mia” Chen from an apparent suicide. Chen, an exchange student from Waseda University in Japan had been a part of Columbia College. The full email from James Valentini, Dean of Columbia College can be found below:

As we enter a new semester, we think it is important to share resources available on campus to members of the Columbia community:

Student Resources:

Email from Dean James Valentini:

 

Dear Students,

With a heavy heart, I am writing to let you know about the loss of a member of our community. Yi-Chia “Mia” Chen, an exchange student at Columbia College from Waseda University in Japan, has died in an apparent suicide.

We have begun reaching out to Mia’s friends and classmates whom we could identify to provide support and assistance during this difficult time. Whether or not you knew Mia, you may wish to gather with other community members. We have set up a space for reflection and conversation from 7-9 p.m. on Broadway 14th floor East and McBain Main Lounge.

This is an especially difficult time for all of us. As you know, we mourned the loss of another Columbia College student in December. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your advisers, your Residential Life staff, Counseling and Psychological Services, the Office of the University Chaplain, your faculty members, and family and friends for support.

The following resources are available to you:

  • The Broadway Residence Hall 14th Floor East Lounge and the McBain Main Lounge will be open as gathering spaces from 7-9 p.m. today. Staff from Counseling and Psychological Services, the Office of University Chaplain, and Residential Life will be in attendance. Anytime before 7 p.m., staff from Residential Life will also be available in Broadway 103 for drop-in visits.
  • In addition to their regular hours, Counseling and Psychological Services (212-854-2878) will offer extended walk-in hours:
    • 5-10 p.m. tonight and tomorrow in the CPS office in Broadway Hall
    • All day today and tomorrow until 10 p.m. on the fifth floor of Lerner Hall
  • The Office of the University Chaplain (212-854-1493) in Earl Hall and St. Paul’s Chapel will be open until 10 p.m. for individual or group counseling.
  • Your advisers in the Berick Center for Student Advising (212-854-6378) are available to talk with you about any concerns.
  • You can seek support from Residential Life staff at any time, who may connect you with additional resources.

I know that all of you join me in sending our deepest condolences to Mia’s family and friends.

Sincerely,
James J. Valentini
Dean of Columbia College and
Vice President for Undergraduate Education

cc: Mary C. Boyce, Dean of The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science

Resources

 

In an email sent to students earlier today, Provost John Coatsworth notified students and teaching assistants behind the University’s rationale in challenging the vote to decide whether Teaching Assistants should unionize that was overwhelmingly supported by eligible voters based on its results.

The full email can be found below:

Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:

Last month, after an election to determine whether Columbia’s research and teaching assistants will be represented by the United Auto Workers, the University formally asked the National Labor Relations Board to examine whether certain actions by union representatives and Board agents responsible for supervising the election improperly affected the election outcome. I am writing to explain why we did so.

All of us have chosen to be part of this community because we value different viewpoints and believe that individual rights matter. Actions that could intimidate voters or create the impression of surveillance, such as installing a camera operated by union supporters just steps from the polling place in Earl Hall, are inconsistent with these basic values and violate NLRB election rules. In addition, the NLRB Regional Office’s reversal regarding the presentation of identification at the polls (first requiring, then encouraging, then ultimately not even allowing poll watchers to request IDs), not only created confusion but had the likely effect of allowing ineligible voters to vote, while forcing eligible voters to cast challenged ballots. Students arrived at Earl Hall only to be told that their names already had been checked off as having voted there.

If there were a means to protect voters’ rights and compliance with NLRB rules without filing objections with the NLRB, or, for that matter, if students troubled by these violations and others during the election were able to raise their concerns directly with the NLRB, we could have considered a different course. However, those alternatives do not exist: Under the National Labor Relations Act, our filing of objections is the sole available recourse for ensuring compliance with rules governing the election and to speak on behalf of student voters who have no independent voice in the process. The NLRB has responded to our filing by recognizing that the objections we raised, “if true, could have affected the outcome of the election and would, therefore, warrant setting aside the election.” The Board has scheduled a hearing in this matter later in the month.

I want to be clear that the University has taken this action mindful of concerns that extend beyond the outcome of last month’s election and the manner in which it was conducted. Our academic community may be operating within a new and very different framework for engaging with research and teaching assistants and for preparing them to have careers as scholars, the latter being one of our core functions as a university. That new framework would be governed by federal law and by the National Labor Relations Board.

In this setting, the prevailing rules must be scrupulously observed by all parties if we are to reach fair outcomes and effectively support all of our teaching and research assistants. As I said on many occasions before and after last month’s election, we will continue to strive so that Columbia remains a place where every student can achieve the highest levels of intellectual accomplishment and personal fulfillment. The actions taken by the University since the election should be understood as consistent with, and essential to that commitment.

Sincerely,

John H. Coatsworth

Provost