SENATE From the Senate Office

The following statement is published in accordance with the Senate Rules. Among other purposes, the publication of SEC actions is intended to stimulate discussion between the constituencies and their representatives. Please communicate your comments to Senate Chair Peter Kuriloff or Executive Assistant Carolyn Burdon, Box 12 College Hall/6303, 898-6943 or

Actions Taken by the Senate Executive Committee

Wednesday, May 1, 1996

  1. Academic Planning and Budget Committee. Past Senate Chair David Hildebrand reported that a continuing focus of the Academic Planning and Budget Committee has been the plan of the School of Arts and Sciences. That school's plan indicates as major priorities the preservation of a high quality faculty, the renovation of science labs, and improvement and innovation in undergraduate education. Three particular initiatives of note are a planned center for the humanities, which will house visiting scholars of distinction for substantial lengths of time, a focus in astrophysics as a focus for the sciences, and continued development of the school's strengths in the "mind, brain, and behavior" area.

    Arts and Sciences has continuing financial problems. The school is underendowed for its size, though the endowment has grown substantially (more than doubling since 1987). It has accumulated deficits from the past several years, and essentially no capital budget. Subvention as a percentage of revenue has declined over the past several years and undergraduate financial aid has increased as a percentage of expenses. The school must find funds to invest in research facilities, to improve its technology in such areas as computing, and to pay its share of the debt for the Institute for Advanced Science and Technology building. The overall picture for the school is one of considerable strength in some areas combined with difficult financial problems.

    As a related concern, Penn's library system is struggling to do well with a restrictive budget. The library is struggling to do a top 10 job on a top 20 budget. It is notable that Penn's library is one of the most extensive borrowers for interlibrary loans.The basic strategy is to focus acquisitions of conventional books on the humanities, where conventional published products still are crucial, while trying to adapt to the needs of the sciences through other forms of knowledge transmission such as electronic publications.

    The committee considered plans to integrate the University's capital budget with its operating budgets. Evidently, new construction implies continuing costs for maintaining and operating the facilities. Until recently, the connection had not been made within the University's budget system. The details of the connection are much too complex to summarize; the effort is being made.

    The committee will have to consider some serious issues next year. The School of Arts and Sciences must find a sounder footing, lest Penn lose the core of its intellectual activity. It is time to consider modifying responsibility center budgeting to reduce the barriers for education among the undergraduate schools, and to provide the Provost with funds to support cross-school educational activities (as recommended by the report of the Senate Committee on Students and Educational Policy). Finally, the percentage of tenured faculty is high at Penn, approaching 80% as compared to 50 to 60% among our competitors. Combined with uncertainty about retirements, this fact raises serious concerns about the continuing renovation of faculty.

    Old Business

  2. Extension of SCAFR term. A motion was moved and adopted that the 1995-96 Senate Committee on Academic Freedom and Responsibility be extended until June 30, 1996, to complete the work begun this academic year.

  3. Proposed Handbook revision on Renewal of Appointments of Deans. The proposal from the Senate Committee on Administration was carried over from the April meeting. Following protracted discussion on length of terms and review of outside candidates the revised proposal was approved (see below). In addition, SEC asked that the proposal be forwarded to the Provost with the statement that existing deans should be grandparented.

  4. Just Cause Revision. The Faculty Senate Chairs met with members of the Trustee Committee on Academic Policy to discuss the Faculty Senate's Proposed Procedure Governing Sanctions Taken Against Members of the Faculty, dated March 1, 1995 (Almanac March 14, 1995). Those discussions centered on who determines sanctions, what appellate procedures exist, and the need to separate the Policy on Misconduct in Research from the just cause procedure. The Faculty Senate Chairs proposed two amendments. Motion A would add a new paragraph to the procedure allowing the President to ask for review of a sanction but not to change the sanction. The respondent may also ask for a review. Power to change a sanction would rest with the original hearing board. Motion B would make the Policy on Misconduct in Research a separate document to allow for ease of revision required by government agencies. Motion A and Motion B were moved and adopted as follows:

    Motion A: Either the President or the respondent may request reconsideration of a sanction recommended by a Hearing Board by submitting a written statement to the chair of the Board within 5 days of the panel's initial recommendation. In the event of such a request, the chair shall reconvene the Hearing Board within 5 days of the receipt of the request and hear statements from both the complainant and the respondent, delivered either personally or through counsel. The Hearing Board may, by majority vote, elect to recommend an increased or a decreased sanction; if the Board does not vote to change its recommendation, the initial recommendation remains in force. The chair of the Hearing Board shall communicate its recommendation to the President and to the respondent in writing immediately following the Board's decision.

    Motion B: SEC moved that, the Policy on Misconduct in Research be separated from the Just Cause procedure, provided that no changes in substance or definition are made.

  5. Faculty Exit Interviewers. SEC made additional nominations to a pool of faculty for exit interview panels. In 1993 SEC adopted the Committee on the Faculty's recommendation to establish exit interviews. Interviews will commence during the next academic year, pending approval by the Faculty Senate and the administration of a questionnaire and interviewer training. President Rodin stated the information from the interviews would be very useful.

  6. Proposal to Abolish the annual meeting of the Faculty Senate. The following motion was moved:

    Whereas, the Faculty Senate of the University of Pennsylvania comprises some 2000 Standing Faculty. The Senate holds an annual Spring meeting for which a quorum has been set at 100 members in attendance. In recent memory a quorum has been achieved on but a few occasions. On several, however, significant issues have drawn a very large attendance.

    It would seem appropriate to amend the Faculty Senate Rules to preserve the forum when needed but to substitute dissemination of information about the work of the Senate Executive Committee and other Senate committees in more routine years in lieu of a sparsely attended ritual.

    First, it is proposed that the annual Spring meeting be discontinued except on the call of the Chair or a determination by the Senate Executive Committee in March. It would continue to be possible for any twenty members of the Standing Faculty to call for a meeting by petition.

    Second, the Chair will publish in Almanac by the third week in April a comprehensive report of the work of the Faculty Senate for the current academic year and probable significant issues for the succeeding academic year.

    Third, additional reports of the other Senate committees as well as SEC Actions will continue to be published in Almanac for information and comment.


    Be it resolved that, the Senate Executive Committee moves the following principle be submitted to the standing faculty for a vote by mail ballot: The required annual Spring Faculty Senate meeting shall be replaced with a required written annual report from the Chair of the Faculty Senate published in Almanac by the third week in April. An annual Spring meeting of the Faculty Senate shall be held on the call of the Chair or a determination by the Executive Committee in March.

    It was stated that no other changes in the rules were intended. SEC was asked only to vote on whether to send the motion to the standing faculty for a vote. Lively discussion ensued. In support of the motion a SEC member noted the declining attendance at the annual meeting meant that SEC members and committee chairs comprised those present and that often more faculty attend SEC meetings. Other views were the need to: 1) publish the proposal; 2) allow sufficient time for discussion; and 3) retain the annual meeting to allow questions by faculty not serving on Senate committees and to provide faculty the opportunity to directly ask questions of the President and Provost.

    A motion was made to table. The motion to table was adopted.

  7. Retiree waiver required by University. SEC Law School representative Charles Mooney was asked by the Faculty Senate Chairs to review the waiver in response to concerns raised by several retiring faculty members. The waiver states that retiring faculty will dismiss any complaints against the University that are pending and will release the University on any claims up to that time. His analysis was that this is reasonable to expect, but suggested two points. One, add to the waiver a provision allowing existing claims with the administration to be left on the table for negotiation. Two, develop a brief cover sheet explaining why the University needs this waiver to be signed by retirees. The Provost stated the cover sheet was a good idea and that he would look into the other suggestion.

    New Business

  8. Selection of Four SEC Members for the Council Steering Committee. Five SEC members were nominated for 4 positions on the 1996-97 Council Steering Committee. Voting was accomplished by paper ballot.

  9. Informal discussion with the President and Provost. President Rodin stated the University is moving forward on reengingeering. She noted the positive effects the new Barnes and Noble Bookstore will bring to the University, other merchants and the community. The focus next year will be on the future of academic programs. The President noted the continuing challenge in the lack of understanding by the general population regarding the itegration of teaching and research and the role of research universities. Provost Chodorow said his focus next year would be continuation of the development of the 21st Century Project, the improvement of the undergraduate experience, and enhancing technology across the board.

  10. June Meeting. A motion was moved and adopted that the SEC meeting scheduled for June 7 be cancelled.

  11. New Business. Peter Kuriloff stated what he saw as the central issues facing the University and SEC for next year: faculty benefits, the status of the School of Arts and Sciences, undergraduate education and implementation of recommendations of the Committee on Students and Educational Policy (Almanac April 16, 1996), and the ongoing and complex relationships between the rest of the University and the Medical School. On the last issue, plans are being made to establish a joint committee of the Faculty Senate and Medical Faculty Senate. SEC members were invited to communicate their suggestions for committee charges for 1996-97.

    Outgoing Faculty Senate Chair William L. Kissick thanked Past Chair David K. Hildebrand and Incoming Chair Peter J. Kuriloff.

Revised Proposal on Renewals of Terms of Office for Deans

May 1, 1996

The following is proposed for revision of the Handbook for Faculty and Academic Administrators Section I.E.2, p. 9.

Deans. Deans are appointed for terms of no more than seven years. Cumulative service for a maximum of ten years may be approved by the President and Provost in exceptional cases, and additional three-year terms beyond the ten-year maximum may be approved by the President and Provost upon the recommendation of eighty percent of the voting faculty of the school, polled in a secret mail ballot.

If any reappointment for a term of two years or more is contemplated, a consultative review committee shall be established in the penultimate year of the appointment. The voting faculty of the school shall elect four of its own members to this committee, to be matched by an equal number chosen by the President and the Provost, who shall ensure that there are faculty representatives from within the University but from outside the school. There shall be one non-voting alumni representative, one non-voting graduate-professional student, and in the case where there are undergraduate programs in the school, one non-voting undergraduate student. The consultative committee will advise the President and Provost on the desirability of reappointment. The committee may determine to seek additional information and advice they think appropriate. The committee shall seek the opinion of all faculty and students in the school, and it shall forward such opinions to the President and Provost. If the school has been recently reviewed by the Academic Planning and Budget Committee, an outside accreditation organization, or some other means, those findings and reports shall be made available to the consultative committee.


Volume 42 Number 31
May 7, 1996

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