Public Representation

The University Seminars provides venues for chairs, university affiliates, associates, and guests for private discussions among peers on matters of serious interest and importance to those in attendance.

[I need to make the language inclusive so that workshops are also covered by the Code of Conduct.]



The following statements are pulled from the "Visiting Scholars/Scientists and Seminar Associates" of the Columbia University Faculty Handbook which states:

"The University is host to many visitors who do not hold academic appointments but use its facilities and participate in its activities. To accommodate the needs of these individuals and recognize their contributions to its intellectual life, the University has created two courtesy designations, visiting scholar/scientist and seminar associate...

Regardless of whether they receive a courtesy designation, visitors may not be paid for providing services to the University and may not engage in work that would normally be performed by officers or staff. Those who are engaged in research at Columbia are expected to comply with the University’s policies designed to ensure that their work is conducted safely and in a professional manner."

The office has only rarely found it necessary to set limitations on seminars. But, because in these cases persistent failure to observe one or more of these stipulations would render a seminar inoperative under our charter and endowment, the office and the Executive Committee of The University Seminars have mapped out guidelines on public representation.

  • Honoraria: The University Seminars do not pay honoraria. A seminar may not collaborate nor have its name associated with a conference or meeting where speakers are paid. Chairs may request funds to cover a speaker’s airfare and accommodation.
  • Public Advocacy & Partisan Activity: The University Seminars is dedicated to the free expression of ideas, and encourages chairs, university affiliates, and associates in their individual capacities to participate fully in the political process during campaigns by candidates for public office. However, all such political action must neither overtly nor implicitly involve Columbia University or The University Seminars. Columbia University is a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code; as such, it is prohibited from participating or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate for public office. For more information, please see: The Columbia University Policy on Partisan Activity.
  • Seminar Affiliation: Seminar chairs, university affiliates, and associates may represent their affiliations freely in communication with other seminar members. Such identification is also acceptable in scholarly articles and books where a seminar’s discussion is relevant to the argument. However, seminar affiliation may not be used to publicly legitimize a position (e.g., “As ex-chair of The University Seminar on Antarctica, Prof. X claims...“).
  • Attribution of Affiliate Status by Membership: The University Seminars takes pride in its place in members’ intellectual lives and is grateful for the acknowledgements that often appear in scholarly books and articles. However, membership does not signify faculty status at Columbia University, but rather falls under the category of “courtesy designation.”