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 email@example.com.
Actions Taken by the Senate Executive Committee
Wednesday, February 4, 1998
1. Items from the Chair's Report.
a. SEC appointed Erling Boe as chair of the Senate Committee
on the Economic Status of the Faculty.
b. The faculty members-chair, Howard Lesnick, John Keene, Lynn
Lees--and other members of the University Council Ad Hoc Committee on Consultation
c. Frank Goodman's subcommittee on strategic planning is studying
faculty involvement in design of the school plans. Faculty were invited
to communicate their comments to Frank Goodman or members of the subcommittee
of the Senate Committee on Administration.
d. School reports on intellectual property are coming in to
the Faculty Senate Office for review by Ralph Ginsberg's subcommittee of
the Senate Committee on the Faculty.
e. John Keene reported that architects for the new Faculty
Club have redesigned a section of the plan so as to provide an additional
meeting room accommodating 12-14 people. A special subcommittee of the
Faculty Club Board of Governors is working with architects on selection
of interior materials. The Senate Chairs have requested Executive Vice
President John Fry publish an Almanac piece detailing the Faculty
Club move. They asked that the University community be invited to express
their views on the Faculty Club move.
f. It was originally intended that savings realized through
cost containment were to go into educational programs. The Senate Chairs
have requested the Executive Vice President provide information on where
savings have occurred and where they are being used. Some SEC members expressed
concern that for two years the University budget has not been published
in Almanac. SEC requested the Chair to make inquiries.
g. SEC members had reported at the last meeting efforts by some
school deans to undertake a post-tenure review process. Other schools continue
an annual faculty review tied to salary increases. The chair stated that
neither the President nor the Provost had called for post-tenure review.
The chair mentioned that the President encourages a developmental view,
looking at academic career stages and functions with emphasis on professional
and academic development as well as variation in responsibilities. Several
SEC members reiterated concerns expressed at the last meeting, particularly
that any review procedure needed faculty discussion and approval. SCAFR
Chair Larry Gross announced that SCAFR will meet shortly to discuss post-tenure
review and recent events. He invited faculty to contact him or a SCAFR
member with any information.
h. The chair noted she received an e-mail from the local AAUP
Chapter regarding concerns about increased pressures and the teaching climate
in the Medical School. Several SEC members said there are increased pressures
to bring in more grant dollars and for clinical faculty to work harder.
There is less time to study about what faculty do and it is increasingly
difficult for clinician educators to assemble an academic career. At this
point there is not yet concern that the teaching mission has begun to suffer
but proliferation of other types of faculty will displace clinician educators
who are competing for the same grants. Another SEC member held the view
that the cost will be not to teaching but to the tenure system and that
this point is related to post-tenure review, e.g. more initial hires are
in ranks not leading to tenure. Another SEC member pointed out that the
increased use of part-time faculty is a widespread national concern.
2. Continued discussion on proposed changes in medical plan caps.
John Egner of Towers Perrin said the proposed change in the cap on out-of-network
benefit under PENNCare from $2M to $1M is intended to encourage patients
with high-cost illnesses to receive their care in-network. The proposed
in-network uncapping fits competitive norms in an unmanaged environment.
SEC member and Council Personnel Benefits Committee Chair David Hackney
clarified that under Blue Cross Plan 100 the $1M cap is on Major Medical
of Plan 100, the rest of Plan 100 is not capped. He went on to say the
you could switch plans into any other health option offered by the University
if you were approaching the cap and when approaching the cap in the second
plan you could switch to a third plan, and so on. A SEC member pointed
out that while switching plans is permitted now, that may not be the case
in the future. It was also pointed out that if changing the dollar cap
produced no savings while imposing management rigor that it was a poor
decision and sends the wrong message. This change alone does little of
significance while plan switching and million-dollar lifetime caps remain.
The long-term question is if we are pushing people into managed care is
that where we want to go? If so, will we have to push much harder (by sharply
reducing the out-of-network caps, eliminating plan switching, or by other
means) to get them there.
The following motion was adopted: The Senate Executive Committee
endorses the proposed change in medical plan in- and out-of-service caps
and authorizes a Senate committee to examine the long-term issues for discussion
at a future SEC meeting.
3. Informal discussion with Interim Provost Michael Wachter.
In response to an issue raised by the chair, Interim Provost Wachter began
by stating that there has been no request to the schools from the President
or Provost to carry out a post-tenure review process and that any material
change in faculty procedures should be brought before the Faculty Senate
for review. Several SEC members described post-tenure reviews ongoing
in their school while others stated that for some time there had been in
place an annual review of faculty connected with salary increases. The
chair pointed out that last year SEC recommended that deans/department
chairs annual salary/review letter include criteria on which the raise
was based. Several SEC members raised the issue that the Faculty Senate
had approved an increase of clinician educators in the Medical School to
40% but that cap has by now exceeded 50%. A SEC member stated the maximums
should be adhered to and should be tracked in the Provost's Office. The
Interim Provost said he had only been at the job one month and would look
into the matter and get back to SEC.
Interim Provost Wachter described his priorities to accomplish University
goals and to move forward efforts begun when he was Deputy Provost. These
include: the College House system and establishing a firm structure for
it to operate and succeed; the Six Academic Priorities; budgets of the
Provost's Center and other center budgets. He said the University is very
healthy and getting stronger in important areas of education. A subcommittee
of the Academic Planning and Budget Committee will have a report on distance
learning in a few months. Interim Provost Wachter was convinced that students
will want to come to Penn and participate in programs in residence and
that distance learning will be ancillary to that education. Distance learning
has enormous risk and promise but will be channeled in a productive way.
4. Committee on Students and Educational Policy Progress Report.
Committee Chair David Williams presented an interim, working report.
Existing mechanisms for faculty oversight of new credit-bearing courses
function well. Less clear are oversight mechanisms for non-degree and certificate
programs. Special attention was given to the potential impact of instruction
centered in the new College Houses where it appears current procedures
will be followed for all credit-bearing courses. For non-degree and certificate
programs the preliminary impression is that these do not yet appear to
draw a substantial student clientele, do not dilute faculty involvement
in degree-granting programs and seem well-conceived and responsibly delivered.
The committee's concern with non-degree programs is linked to the group's
focus on the instructional impact of the electronic revolution and information
technologies. There is a great deal of information available on Web pages;
administrative support for faculty involvement is available and helpful.
The committee also focussed major effort on issues of educational policy
in a time of market challenge and irresistable technological change. Comments
and suggestions were invited.
5. Almanac publication procedures. Almanac Editor
Karen Gaines gave an overview of how an issue is planned, set up and printed.
It was noted that the Faculty Senate Committee on Publication Policy for
Almanac also serves as the faculty component of the Almanac Advisory
Board. Illiustrating ways that physical realities of printing affect the
editorial process, she distributed Almanac's Guide for Readers and
Contributors and asked feedback on current and future uses of its web editions
to meet faculty priorities. Responding to a question on the absence of
routine publication of the University budget, Ms. Gaines stated it was
last published in Almanac in 1995, and that publication slipped
during a change in administrative personnel. A SEC member suggested that
SEC ask the annual University budget be routinely published in Almanac.
The Senate Chair thanked Ms. Gaines for her hard work and cooperation.
6. Other new business. Jack Nagel outlined a vendor policy
meeting he attended recently on behalf of SEC.
7. Deferred items. Past Chair's Report on activities of the Academic
Planning and Budget Committee and Capitol Council was carried over to the
next meeting, along with benefits proposals on mental health and long-term