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 among the constituencies and their representatives.
Please communicate your comments to Senate Chair Vivian Seltzer or Executive
Assistant Carolyn Burdon, Box 12 College Hall/6303, 898-6943 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Actions Taken by the Senate Executive Committee Wednesday,
January 21, 1998
1. Items from the Chair's Report.
- a. SEC authorized the Chair to send a letter of congratulations to
Samuel Preston from SEC on his appointment as Dean of the School of Arts
and Sciences. SEC acknowledged recognition of his service to the Faculty
- b. Ralph Ginsberg's subcommittee on intellectual property expects to
receive copies of the schools' reports from the Provost's Office. They
will be forwarded to him by the Senate Office.
- c. SCAFR has had a quiet year, thus far.
- d. Committee on Students and Educational Policy interim report will
be heard at the February 4 meeting.
2. Academic Planning and Budget Committee and Capital Council.
Past Faculty Senate Chair Peter Kuriloff reported there had been one Capital
Council meeting since the last SEC meeting and discussion was around a
new site for another chilled water plant.
He had again expressed concern to the administration about Academic
Planning and Budget Committee meetings being seminars and not a good use
of the committee members. This week the topics were the Center for Technology
Transfer and strategic goal number two to aggressively seek research opportunities.
Funding is up and the future looks bright.
3. Discussion with SEC appointees to the Provost Search Committee.
SEC members presented their views on criteria for a provost. Comments
centered around: a strong provost who wants to be provost for some time;
represents academic values and the primacy of the academic mission; understands
budgets; wide understanding, appreciation and use of Penn's faculty expertise.
A search committee member conveyed a collegue's view that it is time to
rethink the position of provost and make it vice president for academic
affairs. A SEC member said this was an interesting question since the enterprise
is growing. SEC's consensus was that the provost should be chief academic
officer and an equal partner with the president, with appropriate funding
to carry out the office.
also SEC Actions of December 17, 1998]
4. Committee on the Faculty benefits discussion. Committee
Chair Professor William F. Harris introduced the six proposals from the
administration that had beezn sent to SEC members in advance: Long-term
Care, Vision Care, Retirement Plan Issues, Mental Health Care Long-term
Disability and Medical Plan Caps. Professor Harris stated that the administration
plans to publish the proposals in Almanac shortly for comment. SEC
supported proposals for the first three but asked that the Mental Health
Care, Long-term Disability, and Medical Plan caps proposals be carried
over to the next SEC meeting owing to their complexity and the number of
questions raised. It was noted that Medical Plan Caps were not improved;
the out-of-network cap is proposed to decrease from $2M to $1M and in-network
from $2M to unlimited. Very few beneficiaries would be expected to spend
$1M, and the option to go outside the network for an expensive case would
be lost. The proposal gives a strong incentive to drive patients inside
the Penn network.
Regarding long-term disability, while the proposal would increase the
maximum benefit from $5,000 to $7,000 this would benefit only those earning
$100,000 or more (LTD benefits cover 60 percent of salary) and few in this
income bracket require long-term disability benefits. Under present policies,
LTD also covers thecost of a beneficiary's health insurance. With the
new proposal, it would pay only the amount of the current HMO premium.
SEC members raised issues about continuing the present policy on medical
and dental insurance. Serious questions were also raised about the absence
of indexing benefits for inflation.
SEC members were also concerned that the Mental Health proposal indicated
no movement toward parity in cost and was following a conservative interpretation
of the law. The law requires no financial cap. There was also serious
reservation about the negative impact on out-patient benefits for Blue-Cross,
under which the proposed charges would reduce the number of covered visits-at
a minimum-from about 38 to 30.
SEC withheld its endorsement for the proposed changes in these three
areas to be published until those issues can be resolved.
5. Committee on Administration progress report. Committee Chair
Professor Louis A. Girifalco reviewed trends revealed in an ongoing long-term
time series analysis of University budgets from 1980-1997 and with estimated
data for 1998. A full report will be presented to SEC in a forthcoming
meeting after the data is checked for accuracy and published in Almanac
in late spring.
6. Faculty Club. Professor John Keene, SEC liaison to the
Faculty Club Board of Governors, summarized the status of plans for the
new Faculty Club in the hotel under construction on Walnut Street. SEC
members reiterated earlier concerns about the impending loss of a faculty
club for what appears to be a two-hour lunch club as well as concern over
availability of meeting rooms. SEC was asked to gather input from their
constituencies for continuing discussion at the next SEC meeting.