SENATE From the Chair

Reaffirming the Faculty's Central Responsibility for the Administration of the Academic Enterprise at the University of Pennsylvania

Welcome back to the University. As you begin to teach your fall courses and continue your research, please attend to a number of broad, fundamental, issues that face us over the next year or two. Most have been addressed, at least preliminarily, in the actions of the Senate Executive Committee, and in the 1998 reports of the major Senate Committees--the Committee on Administration, the Committee on the Faculty, the Committee on the Economic Status of the Faculty, the Committee on Publication Policy for Almanac, and the Committee on Students and Educational Policy--and in the 1998 report of the Council Ad Hoc Committee on Consultation. Some have emerged with new clarity and urgency over the summer.

The Governance Structure of the University

The success of the academic enterprise at American universities --the totality of the work that goes on at a major research university like Penn, including the creation and dissemination of knowledge--is the envy of the world. It is deeply rooted in beliefs in academic freedom and responsibility. These beliefs, as Professor Will Harris has observed in a memorandum reflecting the work of last year's Senate Committee on Faculty, are anchored in a system of governance that envisions "two major powers --the Standing Faculty and the Administration--that operate with separated authority arising from distinct grounds of institutional competence, under the external supervision of the Board of Trustees. Within the institution, some things can be decided by one branch acting alone but others require their mutual concurrence." The two powers interact vigorously through consultation, and the other processes of shared governance. As Professor Harris observes, "In a balanced system of shared governance, forceful executives work best with assertive faculties."

The standing faculties, on a school-by school basis, are responsible for designing degree curricula and courses, teaching, determining and implementing appropriate research agendas, and participating in university, school, and departmental governance. The principles that guide them are rooted in professional competence and freedom of inquiry.

The administration is charged with the broad articulation of the University's strategic mission, and for financial management, facilities management, development and alumni relations, information systems, etc. These responsibilities are guided by principles of managerial accountability.

We are all familiar with the restructuring that has been occurring in major private corporations. Buzz words such as "re-engineering," "downsizing," and "total quality management" abound. Across the country, there is a sentiment to apply these concepts to large universities. This could result in a different, and we would argue, undesirable, organizational structure for Penn that would create a three-tiered corporate hierarchy of Trustees, Administration, and Faculty.

This year, the Committee on Students and Educational Policy will be elaborating its proposal to establish an Educational Impact Statement procedure which would regularize and open up the process by which major University decisions are made.

The Growth of the University of Pennsylvania Health System,
and of the Role of Untenured Faculty

At the beginning of this decade, the Board of Trustees of the University and the leadership the Medical School decided that it was necessary to build the capacity of the Health System to deliver health services, in order to compete successfully in the rapidly changing world of health maintenance organizations. The Committee on Administration documented the financial consequences of this decision last spring: the University's expenditures for health care services have risen from 28% of total University expenditures in 1980 to 52% in 1998, and the proportion is expected to rise further with the acquisition of Pennsylvania and Presbyterian Hospitals. The standing faculty of the Medical School now constitutes more than half of the standing faculty of the entire University. Clinician educators (who have significant clinical responsibilities but do not have tenure) constitute almost 60% of the Medical School's standing faculty and about 30% of the entire standing faculty in the University.

These developments have paralleled events in other parts of the University and in other universities. They are examples of the growing use of non-tenure track, part-time, and adjunct faculty. There are clearly benefits from using such faculty, especially in professional schools and in areas requiring specialized skills, such as language instruction. However, such a development has the effect of diluting the role of standing faculty in teaching, research, and university governance. They may well result in a decline in the quality of instruction.

The Senate Committee on the Faculty will be addressing the urgent issues raised by the Medical School's intent to expand its clinician educator position well beyond the 40% of standing faculty limitation that is now part of University regulations. It will continue its examination into the questions of the general structure of academic teaching positions at Penn and of who is actually teaching our students. Last spring, the Senate Executive Committee voted to consider approving expansion of existing faculty categories or additions of new ones, only if the school requesting them provides specified information about its teaching staff.

A Comprehensive Policy on Faculty Compensation that
Will Maintain Faculty Salaries at Competitive Levels

Last May, the central recommendation of the Senate Committee on the Economic Status of the Faculty was that the faculty and administration develop a principled comprehensive faculty compensation policy embracing both salaries and fringe benefits. Such a policy should correct any verified inequities in the salary system, and should be designed to permit Penn to continue to attract first rate scholars.

Post-Tenure Review

The institution of tenure has long existed at American universities. It is grounded on the principle of professional responsibility for membership in and promotion within the community of scholars, and a deep commitment to academic freedom and responsibility. Rigorous evaluation at the time of achieving tenure and on promotion to full professor is supplemented with continuing evaluations, such as the annual performance review for purposes of determining salary levels, and peer review in connection with publication in scholarly journals and the awarding of research support. Perhaps the strongest guarantees of academic performance are the high personal standards and dedication of first rate research university faculty members.

At other universities across the country, there have been calls for the abolition of tenure or at least, the institution of "post-tenure review." At Penn, the Dean of the Graduate School of Fine Arts established a post-tenure review process last year, in which the performance of three senior professors was reviewed by a panel of one internal and one external reviewer. The Committee on the Faculty and the Senate Committee on Academic Freedom and Responsibility will be examining this issue carefully. Suffice it to say that, first, the unilateral institution of a post-tenure review process which contains possibilities of discipline or termination in addition to those already provided by the University statutes, constitutes a retroactive change in the basic relationship between faculty members and their school. As such, it is simply unfair. Implemented fully, it would undermine the status of the faculty as a key component in a balanced system of University governance. It would have a chilling effect on the faculty's expression of their views. It certainly would consume a lot of time and energy on the part of senior faculty. But further, adoption of post-tenure review by a school will make that school less attractive relative to other leading schools in the U.S., and therefore make it more difficult to attract first rank scholars.

Revision of the University's Policy on Intellectual Property

Last year, the faculties of several schools reviewed the University's policies on rights to intellectual property, especially its copyright policy. On the recommendation of the Committee on the Faculty, the Senate Executive Committee resolved that "The University should acknowledge that customary practice on copyright at Penn is the currently authoritative standard.... The University should acknowledge that its published policy on copyright in the Handbook for Faculty and Academic Administrators is at variance with this settled practice and should not be regarded as authoritative." A committee will be asked to codify the settled copyright practice and a standard for new technology arising from the interpolation of copyright and patent practices.

One of the principal weaknesses of the Handbook's policy is that, if it has any effect, it is to discourage faculty from publishing original work by seeking to secure ownership of such intellectual property for the University. Very simply, this lines up the financial incentives against faculty publication, rather than in support of it.

Restore a More Appropriate Balance in the Allocation of Funds among Competing University Priorities; Contain Costs

Last year, the Committee on Administration conducted an exhaustive probe into the cost containment and budget allocation polices of the University since 1980. Among other things, this analysis showed the remarkable growth during that time in the share of the University's budget that is allocated to health care services delivery. It raised questions about that growth, questions that have become more pressing with the bankruptcy of the Allegheny health system's Philadelphia operations, and the July decision of Moody's Investors Service to lower its rating of $159 million of the new University Health System Bonds from Aa3 to A1 because of the system's anticipated operating loss for the 1998 fiscal year.

Among the Committee on Administration's other proposals were that the administration find ways to lighten the burden of financial aid on the unrestricted budgets of individual schools and to reduce the widening gap between the central costs allocated to each school and the subvention made to each to help balance its budget. These are items demanding continuing attention this year. These burdens substantially restrict the capacity of many schools to improve their curricula and to attract first rate scholars.

Let Us Work Together

As we work together and with the administration, students and staff, to articulate ways of meeting the many challenges that confront the University, we must, first, get the facts straight, and, second, evaluate the costs and benefits, including the often unanticipated side effects, of various courses of action. For the members of the Faculty Senate, this means participating in the work of the committees and letting your representatives know your views. Vivian Seltzer, the Past Chair, Peter Conn, the Chair-elect, and I look forward to hearing from you.

--John C. Keene, Chair

Almanac, Vol. 45, No. 2, September 8, 1998