Front Page

In This Issue

Compass Features

Job Opps

CrimeStats

Bulletins

Between Issues

 


 

Almanac Homepage

Compass Homepage

Staff Box

COUNCIL Three 1996-97 Reports for Future Discussion at the University Council

Bookstore

The Bookstore Committee focused its attention this year on the present Bookstore. Insuring a satisfactory level of service in the present facility in 1996-97 and 1997-98 seemed to us our principal immediate concern. We toured the present facility and discussed its limitations and potentialities. We met with the chief buyers of books and of other merchandise and discussed stocks and presentations. By early next year construction of the facility that is to replace the present Bookstore should be sufficiently advanced to make planning for it our chief concern. Members were disappointed that, in spite of our best efforts to find convenient hours for our sessions, no student member attended any of our last four meetings. We are resolved in 1997-98 to seek the advice of all the constituencies served by the Bookstore, but most especially of students, on the shape the new Bookstore should take. We have begun to make plans with executives of Barnes & Noble for a luncheon meeting early in the fall semester to convey to all members, and especially student members, the vital formative role the Committee ought to play as we approach the opening of a Bookstore that has the potential to reshape significant aspects of our University life.

Through 1996-97, much of our discussion has focused on a problem that has long troubled Bookstore management and earlier Bookstore Committees. Some faculty members and a few whole departments have long refused to share their textbook lists with the University Bookstore. The motives for such refusals are various. The Bookstore of the 1960s was notoriously uncooperative: some who turned elsewhere then have not noticed that the Bookstore long ago corrected its deficiencies. Some teachers want to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit of former students who appear at the beginning of a semester in low-overhead trucks from which they sell discounted high-volume titles for a few weeks and then disappear. Some teachers favor friends or ideological comrades with their book orders. The Committee does not question the right of teachers to select their preferred booksellers and to urge their students to patronize them, but we believe that the interests of the whole community would be served by encouraging free and open competition.

Increasingly, schools and departments are placing descriptions of their courses on their PennNet home pages well before pre- registration. If those descriptions included text titles and ISBN numbers

  • students, even pre-freshmen, would know what texts were to be obtained--and perhaps studied months before classes would begin;
  • they could seek to purchase or barter continuing texts from other students or to buy them where the best prices were offered;
  • any bookseller who wished to compete in the textbook market could order copies and offer them for sale;
  • competition among booksellers would conduce to good service and the lowest prices consistent with profitability; and
  • students would find some booksellers offering all of their course books and would be spared the inconvenience of standing in lines in two or three stores in order to purchase their texts.

The Committee is not sure that this proposal will work to the advantage of the University Bookstore, but we are encouraged by the receptivity of the Bookstore management to the proposal. Our Bookstore is willing, indeed eager, to face open and fair competition. We believe it should have the opportunity, an opportunity it would share with all other booksellers. Our students, we are sure, would be the beneficiaries of a fair and open marketplace.

The Committee therefore recommends that University Council urge the Provost to insure that all departments place their course descriptions and the titles and ISBN numbers of all texts on their PennNet home pages well in advance of the commencement of pre- registration and that enrollment numbers be made available to all booksellers who may desire them.


1996-97 Bookstore Committee

Chair: Robert Regan (English); Faculty: William R. Brennen (chemistry), Noam Lior (mechanical engineering), Ewa Morwska (sociology), David Riebstein (marketing), Ruth York (nursing); Administration: Susan Passante (research admin), Z. Paul Reynolds (student life facilities), Adam Sherr (dining services); A-3: Conchita Burwell (general counsel); Students: Noah Bilenker, Chris Garrus, Dan Reynolds, Ann Whang; Ex officio: Michael Knezic (dir., Bookstore), Marie Witt (chair, PPSA).

 

Facilities

I. Introduction and Overview

The committee met eleven times during the academic year with substantial participation by most of its members. During these meetings the committee heard presentations by Chris Algard, Director of Security and Public Safety; Mr. Robert Furniss, Director of Transportation and Mail Services; James Wargo, Executive Director, Physical Plant; and Al Pallanti, Superintendent of Recycling. The Committee also reviewed in some detail the Final Report of the Facilities Committee of 1995-1996 and reviewed the program and the schedule for the University Council in an effort to maximize our opportunity of assisting the University Council in its examination of various issues of the campus. In addition, the Committee reviewed the 1991 Campus Master Plan document.

The charge of the Committee this year was primarily the physical evolution of the campus. In particular, the Committee's concern focused on the planning problems faced by the campus now, almost six years after the latest Master Plan was formed in 1991, by a consulting firm, and as a result of the changes the campus has witnessed in the last five years.

It was the view of the Committee that the changes that the new University administration has introduced, and the evolving needs, presented by the various schools of the University in the last few years, in connection with each other and individually, have made the matter of long-range planning for the physical needs of the University an urgent matter for all concerned.

The Committee expressed repeatedly the desire that any and all of the suggestions it might offer should be constructive and contributive to the ongoing discussions about the status quo of the campus and of its future. Thus the Committee accepted the charge and proceeded with its deliberations.

In addition to this primary charge to the Committee, the University Council has asked the Committee this year to review the transportation and parking services of the University, to examine progress made on the new Safety and Security measures introduced by the University, and to update its review and data of the recycling efforts of the campus.

On these three matters the Committee listened to the presentations and examined several documents offered by our visitors. After considerable discussion the Committee concluded with the following concerns and suggestions.

On the matter of transportation and parking services, the Committee observed that there is a need to pay greater attention on the level of congestion, almost endemic on Spruce and 34th Streets. Also, street crossings are still very dangerous all through the campus areas. A number of pedestrian overpasses need to be considered along 33rd, 34th, Spruce and Walnut streets connecting building and pedestrian paths. Additional measures facilitating transit use, and reducing vehicle speed, are also very appropriate for the campus at this time. Finally, the distances within campus from east to west and north to south are becoming too long and tend to divide, separate and disconnect the various parts of the campus, all to the great detriment to the University Community concept we all support. Obviously, some study of how this problem may be overcome needs to take place is the near future.

On the matter of parking, it seems that although its supply appears to be sufficient at present, its distribution and cost structure still leave a lot to be desired.

The recycling services of the University appear to be organized well, but they are subject to a great deal of fluctuation and cost variation. It seems that the volatility of the market of recyclable material and its cost structure requires a new study of how the University can achieve economies and regain a level of control over the marketing of its recyclable materials.

Finally, on the matter of security and safety, the Committee was impressed by the rigor of the current efforts. The concerns that were created focused primarily on the level of money outlays for new and advanced technology and the level of security personnel in many designations and classification that the University is currently obliged to incorporate. The costs appear great and continuous in the long run, producing a new major burden for the University. Some discussion about comparable costs in other University campuses (e.g., Temple, Swarthmore) suggested the need for some comparative analysis in this field before it is too late for cost confinement.II. Review and Recommendations on Basic Principles and Objectives for the Future Development of the Campus

The Committee reviewed the continuous references to the four basic principles that guided the 1991 Master Plan and concluded that all four principles are as pertinent in 1997 as they were in 1991. The four basic principles of the 1991 Master Plan are:

1. Reflect Penn's standing as Philadelphia's preeminent educational institution.

2. Continue development as an urban park.

3. Reflect the ambitions of its schools and faculty, providing each with a strong physical center and overlapping links with its neighbors.

4. Reflect the University's architectural history and traditions.

However, the Committee also concluded that a fifth principle should be articulated and recommended to the University Community for proper adoption. This new fifth basic principle in determining the future of the campus can be stated as follows:

5. The future development plan of Penn's campus should be conceived of, and should be implemented, consistent with the great need to promote safety, amenity, and efficiency in carrying out all the typical activities undertaken by the students, the faculty, and the staff of the University.

The safety concerns suggest that all transactions, communications, and meetings on campus should be undertaken within conditions that promote and assure personal safety and security.

The desire to provide an advanced level of amenity in campus life suggests that the new plans and programs on campus should be enriched with elements of amenity that will better the experience of all individuals who spend parts of their life on campus.

The need to carry on all the activities on campus efficiently and with an economy of resources suggests that all future plans and programs for the development of the campus should be conceived of, and should be implemented, with the need for economy of effort and all other resources clearly articulated in all aspects of these plans and programs.


III. The Planning Process

The 1991 Campus Master Plan was completed by a consulting firm without significant input from the campus constituency. It was a confidential process that led to a confidential report, and remains such until now. The Committee believes that the process for the new master plan for the campus of the University of Pennsylvania should be more reflective, innovative, and even visionary in response to the times we live in and to the major changes we have experienced in all the fields related to University functions and roles. Above all, the new process should be more consultative and participatory involving all the schools and the different constituencies of the campus. Inputs from all these sources should be provided to the planners charged with the responsibility of articulating the plan and a process should be envisioned and implemented that also permits a participatory process when choices have to be made among alterntive options.

However, even today the planning process of the University is largely executive, highly centralized, and participatory only to the extent that the "need to know" individuals are invited to enter the process. The typical procedure would be that a dean will perceive a need and then will make a request and a proposal to the central administration. Also, an executive officer of the central administration will become aware of a need (i.e. more parking space) and make a proposal to his/her higher-ups. Also, the top leadership of the University would conceive a new idea, or externally be advised about something new that appears desirable at first glance, and ask some pertinent studies to be made. Most planning and decision-making is done in close (and closed) meetings between appropriate deans, administrators and the president or executive vice president of the University. If an idea survives that meeting, then other people are called in strictly on the basis of the need to know, or to advise. At that stage most first-round studies/designs are made internally or though confidential consulting firms. If and when a complete proposal is formed, then the Trustees are entered in one of several ways through the chairman of the Board of Trustees, the Executive Committee, the Facilities Committee, or the Budget Committee. If consent has been reached, final plans are contracted out for final preparation and formal trustee approval.

This is the process that reminds us what is called executive or "government planning" for the the typical benevolent but despotic governments around the globe. It is also similar to the usual process followed by the typical centralized corporations of the private and public sector.

In contrast, democratic countries, cities and regions, as well as many private sector participatory corporations found it beneficial to follow another planning process, a more democratic, and more participatory, more inclusive, and as we now know, more informative and more productive in the long run than any executive planning. It is this participatory planning process which served this country well in the introduction of the environmental concerns in urban planning which introduced the community as the planning unit (not the simple building), and which permitted a much faster evolution of planning ideas, concepts and plans. The main discovery in doing so was the fact that there is a difference between planning and decision making. Planning was found to be the thinking stage of all undertakings the stage in which all inputs are welcome and all options are examined. That is why this stage of activity is defined as advisory to the decision making body. That is why all planning commissions are advisory bodies. Their status permits them to act as a forum for all and enables them to examine issues in a spheric (global) manner. When they conclude their consultations and comparative studies, then they submit their conclusions and suggestions to the governing body. It is in the power of the governing body to accept, or reject, or modify the submissions of the planning commission, and/or continue the study of the subject matter, if this is so desired.

This division between planning and deciding places some distance between those who decide, those who compare, and those who advocate or oppose issues or plans. The result is that all those groups perform in their best and the result is both better plans, and more satisfied communities. Such a planning function will serve the University well at this juncture.

The Facilities Committee of the University Council submits this suggestion in view of the fact that the University has to decide and act on projects, in virtually all parts of the campus, as well as on all matters of the direction the University should take in the next 25-30 years. In view of that amount of work, a switch from the "executive mode" of planning to the "advisory/participatory mode" of planning is recommended. The Committee makes this suggestion because of the seriousness of the issues for all concerned. It is true that in the past, suggestions coming from this University Council Committee have frequently been side-tracked and this may occur in this case, too--but it is important for the campus community that this suggestion with the unanimous support of the Committee be submitted to the University at large. It might be added here that the process and the committees in place currently on campus do not meet the needs as presented above. For example, the Facilities Committee of the University Council is currently without a planning charge or planning composition; the Design Review Committee is charged to review only limited aspects of the projects submitted to them; the Capital Budget Committee reviews only the availability of funds for a given project; the Trustee Facilities Committee enters the picture only to approve or disapprove projects, and the Provost's Planning and Budget Committee is concerned only/primarily with academic matters. Clearly there is no physical planning function going on campus as is the case in other "public communities", i.e. cities. What planning is done at Penn is the absolute minimum necessary for the decision makers to decide without overt mistakes.


IV. Concerns about the Present Campus Activity and Needs

The Facilities Committee reviewed many other aspects of the situation prevailing on campus today and of the campus's needs for the future. It concluded with the realization, once more, that there are many issues which are multi-school, multi-function, and multi-community. Also there are issues of campus expansion that need to be faced comprehensively and proactively, that involve the city and the University neighbors. Above all, these issues involve the "idea" or "vision" of the University for the next 25-30 years and its relations with the city and its neighbors. At the end, the Committee decided to put its emphasis this year on discussing the most effective planning mode of the campus and to let the individual issues be discussed sometime in the future. Those interested in specific projects and proposals of this Committee can contact me about obtaining a copy of last year's (1995-1996) Final Report of this Committee.

--Anthony R. Tomazinis, Chair

1996-97 Facilities Committee

Chair: Anthony Tomazinis (city & reg planning); Faculty: Nadia Alhasani (architecture), John Keenan (civil systems), Reuben Kron (psychiatry), Anuradha Mathur (landscape architecture), Michael Tierney (educ), Vucan Vuchic (systems engr), Dennis Yao (pub pol & mgmt); Administration: Pat Burns (social work), Monica Dalin (chemical engr), Vivian Hasiuk (physics); A-3: Vicki Lopez (CPPS), Loretta Miller (student info & systems); Students: Jannifer Jaye (CAS '97), Naomi Migliacci (GSE), Josh Rockoff (Col '98), Joan Rockett (GSE); Ex officio: Arthur Gravnia (VP Facil Mgmt), Alice Nagle (coord Program for People with Disabilities), Ronald Sanders (registrar).

 

Library

This report was prepared by Charles Rosenberg, chair of the Committee, with the help of Library staff members.

We were much impressed by the Library's responsiveness to a labile and demanding "information climate" in a period of limited resources. It seemed particularly important that the Library continue to evaluate and track usage in terms of user segments disciplines (which have, of course, very different needs end assumptions). The use of "survey research" among users is underway and should be continued especially in terms of ongoing adjustment to the new electronic data access system that went on-line in August of 1997.

It would seem particularly important that we maintain the present high level of continuity and morale among professional staff; agile responses in a changing technical environment imply such human investments.

The fact that Library has ranked so high among American Research Libraries in terms of ILL requests filed (fifth in 1995-6) should be seen quite positively--both in terms of staff performance and the scholarly zeal of users. On the other hand, it points to a sobering contrast with the Uni-versity Library's continuing rank (roughly twentieth) in levels of support as measured by expenditures per faculty and/or student or staff members.

It underlines as well the necessity of such collaborative ventures as that currently being undertaken with Yale and Columbia--in which users of all

three libraries will have online and physical access to materials from the participating institutions. Participation in a Pennsylvania consortium should in the aggregate save time and money as compared to the current inter-library loan situation.

We spent a good deal of time in discussing current off-site storage (small container storage in the old Bulletin Building) arrangements. A strong preemptive case was presented for cost and convenience factors embodied in the ongoing plans. We feel, however, that user experience should be monitored carefully as the storage system becomes a reality.

Although we are not fully aware of University budgeting procedures it seemed worth considering whether costs of knowledge acquisition (in printed or electronic form) should not be considered separately from global/structure considerations. Conditions in this environment are so unstable and so important to the Library's effective operation that they demand specific, disaggregated consideration. This reality is underlined by the fact that sanguine hopes that growth of electronic data sources (journals, databases, etc.) would cut knowledge acquisition costs have not been borne out.


1996-97 Library Committee

Chair: Charles Rosenberg (history & social sci); Faculty: Eduardo Glandt (chem engineering), Karin McGowan (pediatrics), Philippe Met (romance languages), Amos B. Smith (chemistry), Nancy Steinhardt (Asian & Mid East Studies); Administration: Sharon Bode (Eng lang programs); A-3: Carol B. Henderson (counseling services); Students: Kristin Baumi (GSAS), Alexander Thein; Ex officio: Paul Mosher (v provost & dir libraries).


Return to: Almanac, University of Pennsylvania, October 14, 1997, Volume 44, Number 8