College Council discusses faculty senate

By Shardae Smith

After a two-and-a-half day closing of the college, Columbia’s College Council held its first meeting of the spring 2011 semester on Feb. 4 to discuss important college issues.

The meeting—which took place at the 1104 Center, 1104 S. Wabash Ave.—included reports from Mark Kelly, vice president of Student Affairs, on student enrollment and retention, and Vice President of Campus Environment Alicia Berg, who notified the council of the college’s condition after the recent blizzard. There was also a continuation of the ongoing discussion about the council’s fate, if a faculty senate is put

into place.

Student enrollment for spring 2011 brought in 758 new students, 63 more than last year, according to Kelly.

He also announced that while China’s President Hu Jintao was visiting the U.S. in January, he was in China developing a pipeline to recruit Chinese students to Columbia called The China Innovative.

“Our plan is to dramatically increase the number of Chinese students attending Columbia and build some partnerships with Chinese universities,” Kelly said.

Berg informed council members that the campus buildings weren’t too damaged during the storm and said she hoped the college’s alert system served the community well.

Jim Mitchem, associate professor of the Radio Department, was curious about the cutoff times for emergency situations. He said the short-notice announcements left less time for him to make plans for cancelled classes.

Berg said there is no standard time when it comes to these situations.

“Well, they’re all kind of a judgment call,” Berg said. “We all try to get as much information as we possibly can. We try to be as prompt as we can, but we also don’t want to jump the gun.”

Tom Nawrocki, associate professor in the English Department and president of the Columbia College Faculty Organization, informed the council that he’s been chosen as a faculty representative by Columbia President Warrick L. Carter to assist the search for a new chief financial officer to replace Michael DeSalle, who recently stepped down.

While in session, the council moved to approve the new Bachelor of Science degree in audio, arts and acoustics, as proposed by Pantelis Vasilakis, chair of the Audio, Arts and Acoustics Department.

Vassilakis presented the proposal at the Dec. 3 meeting and said the Bachelor of Science degree better represents what the students in the concentration focus on.

Also discussed at the meeting was what the transition from a college council to a faculty senate would involve. Theater Department Chair and College Council President John Green said for a transformation to happen, there must be an amendment to the existing College Council bylaws.

The proposed faculty senate would comprise full-time faculty members with the addition of part-time faculty at a later time.

The faculty will vote on the faculty senate by-laws on Feb. 7.

Louis Silverstein, distinguished professor in the Humanities, History and Social Sciences Department, said he felt the faculty’s opinion isn’t being fully represented regarding the council’s fate.

“I’m a little troubled by the process that has been evolved here,” Silverstein said. “I don’t believe we’ve had any discussion among the College Council members themselves whether or not we agree with this transition.”

Silverstein said while he is neither for nor against the faculty senate, he thinks the college as a whole suffers from a lack of democratic process.

If the faculty senate is voted into existence, it will be set in place during the fall 2011 semester, according to Green.

He said College Council should stay informed on what happens with the vote on the faculty senate, which will determine what’s next for the council.

“We’re not pretending this isn’t hard,” Green said. “The important thing is it is fair and open, which is why we also, as an executive, keep a discussion among the whole council.”