Barzun, who died late last month, was remembered in the resolution for his many academic, administrative, and personal accomplishments during his tenure as a Columbia faculty member from 1932 to 1975. Developing the precursor to Literature Humanities and changing the color of Columbia's academic robes from black to light blue were among the many contributions the senate recognized.
“The Columbia University Senate venerates the memory of an intellectual giant, an ever-curious scholar, a respected colleague, and a beloved teacher for three-quarters of a century,” University President Lee Bollinger said as he read the resolution aloud to the senate body.
Bollinger also noted Thursday's resignation of Executive Vice President for Arts and Sciences Nicholas Dirks. He expressed disappointment that Dirks would be leaving the University, but also said that “it's a great thing for Nick, and it's a great thing for our reputation.” Bollinger said he and University Provost John Coatsworth will be working closely with individual schools as well as the newer administrative committees of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, such as the Policy and Planning Committee, until Dirks' replacement is hired.
Also at the plenary, School of International and Public Affairs professor Sharyn O'Halloran, the chair of the senate's executive committee, updated the senate on a number of initiatives currently making their way through the committees.
The External Relations and Research Policy Committee is in the process of reviewing a September report by the senate's task force on smoking policy that found the current 20-foot smoking ban ineffective and has determined a timeline for moving forward. According to O'Halloran, a town hall will likely be held in January, followed by a presentation of recommendations to the senate in February, and, hopefully, a vote by March. A possible campus-wide smoking ban has been debated within the senate for over two years.
O'Halloran also called upon Coatsworth to update the senate on the Provost's Academic Leadership Institute, which held its first training sessions last week. Coatsworth said that he was very pleased with the training sessions, in which about 30 Columbia administrators participated, and hopes to expanding the institute.
“I think what we learned is that we don't do a very good job of putting our faculty in touch with each other so they can share experiences and knowledge and solutions,” Coatsworth said. “Those who attended found it to be very valuable.”
O'Halloran added that the senate's Global Initiatives Task Force will be giving a report in December. Members of the University's finance department will also speak about Columbia's new financial documentation system, Accounting and Reporting at Columbia, at next month's session.