SENATE From the Chair

1998-99 Annual Report of the Chair of the Faculty Senate

May 6,1999

My year as chair of the Faculty Senate has been a most fascinating, challenging, and rewarding one. Vivian Seltzer, past chair, and Peter Conn, chair-elect, and I have benefited immensely from the insights of our colleagues on the Senate Executive Committee and the various Senate committees. We have enjoyed a cordial working relationship with President Rodin, Michael Wachter, Interim Provost for the first half of the year, and Robert Barchi, who took office as Provost in February. The President and the Provost met with us on a regular basis and also appeared on several occasions to discuss important matters with the Senate Executive Committee and to respond to questions from SEC members. We look forward to continued close collaboration during 1999-2000. The three chairs met periodically with John Fry, Executive Vice President, to discuss urgent matters that fell within his scope of responsibility. We found him remarkably forth-coming and well-informed about a wide range of activities across campus. I owe a special word of appreciation to Barbara Lowery, Associate Provost, who is responsible for many important areas of policy that affect faculty. Having served as chair of the Faculty Senate, she understands the concerns of the faculty and has been responsive to our many requests for information and interpretation of University policies.

First, a few words about the officers of the Faculty Senate: I want to express my respect for Vivian Seltzer, past chair of the Senate, and Peter Conn, chair-elect. I have been most impressed by Vivian's seasoned vision of the mission of the Senate, her respect for its democratic processes, and her unique blend of optimism about the possibilities of improving the quality of life at the University and in society as a whole, for that matter-and her profound understanding that things are not as they seem so that we need to probe for second and third meanings. Peter brings long and important experience in University affairs to the post of chair. His quick intelligence, his ability to turn a nice phrase, and his probing curiosity about the workings of a $3 billion organization will stand him in good stead during his term. The three of us have worked closely over the last year. While we have disagreed over particular issues, we have been able to work out our differences in a most collegial and productive way. Martin Pring has carried out his duties as Secretary in his characteristically thorough and expeditious manner. I should note that Martin has also served capably as chair of the Senate Committee on Publication Policy for Almanac, the University Council Committee on Committees, which reviews the activities of all the Council Committees, and the University Council Committee on Communications. I wish also to acknowledge the contributions of Carolyn Burdon, executive assistant to the Faculty Senate chair, in managing the flow of information and documents through the Faculty Senate office and bringing to bear on our daily operations an understanding of Senate matters that comes from over twenty-five years of experience.

As my term comes to a close, I would like first, to step back and report to the Faculty Senate on the many ways in which the faculty shares in the governance of the University and second, to review the major actions taken by the Senate Executive Committee during the 1998-99 academic year.

Faculty Governance

Of central importance, of course, are those traditional faculty responsibilities for the formulation of curricula and the approval of courses, the selection and promotion of faculty members and their discipline and removal for just cause, the admission and certification for graduation of our students, and the establishment of a variety of ancillary policies concerning the structure of our faculties and governing our professional lives and those of our students, most of which are discharged primarily in our respective schools. Faculty participate importantly in strategic decisions that shape the future of the University and serve on the committees that search for nominees for major administrative offices.

The three chairs met with the President and the Provost about a dozen times during the academic year to discuss major initiatives, concerns, and policy matters on a personal and confidential basis. This provides a unique and critically important opportunity to exchange views on issues of strategic significance.

Faculty who serve on the Senate Executive Committee and the University Council have provided important input into the deliberations of these bodies and have contributed to the adoption of several important new policies which I will summarize later in this report.

Much of the yearly work of the Senate is done by its standing committees: the Committee on Faculty, chaired by Harvey Rubin, the Committee on Students and Educational Policy, chaired by David Williams, and the Senate Committee on the Economic Status of the Faculty, chaired by Erling Boe. Each of these committees has brought major, thoughtful proposals to the Senate Executive Committee for action. The Committee on Publication Policy for Almanac, chaired by Martin Pring, provided solid advice to the editor over the year. The Senate Nominating Committee, chaired by Gregory Possehl, produced an outstanding slate of candidates for the various Senate offices, on schedule. The Committee on Committees, chaired by Peter Conn, prepared slates of members for the appointed Senate committees, the Academic Planning and Budget Committee, and other University committees.

Vivian Seltzer and other faculty have met weekly throughout the year as members of the Academic Planning and Budget Committee, chaired by the Provost. Its purpose is to bring together academic planning and financial planning for the entire University in order to provide advice to the University administration on both short-term and long-term resource allocation. Vivian Seltzer also sits on the University's Capital Council, which reviews major capital improvement projects, and the Public Safety Advisory Board, which consults with Vice President Thomas Seamon on strategic issues facing the Division of Public Safety.

Faculty members have central responsibility for protecting the academic freedom of the faculty and freedom of expression generally, and for insuring that their colleagues act responsibly and in accordance with University standards of behavior. The principal vehicles here are the Senate Committee on Academic Freedom and Responsibility, chaired by Susan Watkins, and the Committees on Academic Freedom and Responsibility of the twelve schools, the Committee on Open Expression, chaired by Dennis Culhane, the Faculty Grievance Commission, chaired by Yoshitaka Suyama, the school committees charged with investigating and adjudicating charges of misconduct in research, and faculty committees that are established to implement the recently revised procedures for the suspension or removal of faculty members for just cause.

The three chairs have worked closely with James Saunders, chair of the Medical School Faculty Senate, on a number of issues having to do with the structure of the Medical School faculty. Vivian Seltzer serves as liaison between the Senate and the Medical School's Faculty 2000 Committee, which is carrying out a major review of the structure and responsibilities of the faculty in the Medical School and the University of Pennsylvania Health System as a whole.

As chair of the Steering Committee of University Council, I am responsible for setting the Steering agenda, and organizing the deliberations of the Committee whose primary jobs are to formulate the charges to the Council's committees and to set the agenda for each Council meeting. Faculty members chaired, and served as members of, the fourteen standing committees of the University Council, which are too numerous to mention here, many of which have submitted substantial reports to Council with recommendations for further action.

Finally, there have been several special committees that have discharged or are discharging important responsibilities. Howard Lesnick and his fellow members of the Committee on Consultation Policy prepared the recently promulgated Policy on Consultation. Stephen Gale chaired the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on an Educational Impact Statement, which has worked on refining last year's proposals on that matter. I am serving on the Steering Committee for the Campus Development Plan, which will be overseeing the planning process for the Development Plan for the University. This spring, Peter Conn has been a member of the President's Working Group on Alcohol Abuse, and the Provost's Committee on Distributed Learning.

This itemization of the different mechanisms by means of which faculty participate in the on-going decision-making processes of the University shows the breadth and depth of our involvement in the important issues of University life. I have found that President Rodin and Provost Barchi share our conception of the faculty's important, primary, role in determining and implementing many of the core policies that guide major components of the University's mission.

Major Actions of the Senate Executive Committee

Pursuant to the Bylaws of the Faculty Senate, I will now report on the major actions taken by the Senate Executive Committee this academic year. I refer the reader to the monthly report of SEC actions that appears in Almanac immediately after each SEC meeting for a summary of all other actions.

At its December 2, 1998, meeting, SEC endorsed the new Policy on Consultation that had been developed by an Ad Hoc Committee chaired by Howard Lesnick over the previous spring and summer. Recognizing the special role of the faculty in many areas of University governance, this policy set up a new and comprehensive framework within which the administration will consult with the various constituencies of the University about important developmental decisions. President Rodin accepted the policy and caused it to be published in the April 20, 1999, Almanac.
In March, SEC adopted new procedures to be followed by the Senate Committee on the Economic Status of the Faculty which called for: (1) the preparation of a report on the current economic status of the faculty that made external comparisons of our economic status to those of faculty in other universities and analyzed salary levels across ranks and across schools within the University (2) the preparation of a set of recommendations for issues to be pursued in the following year; and (3) continued consultation between the Committee, on behalf of SEC, and the Provost. The Committee submitted a comprehensive report on these matters which was endorsed by SEC at its May 5 meeting. SEC also adopted the Committee's recommendations concerning faculty salary policy and procedural issues (
Almanac March 16, 1999). The Committee will be discussing salary policies with the administration during the next academic year.

The Committee on the Faculty recommended the adoption of a revised policy on copyright for inclusion in the
Handbook for Faculty and Academic Administrators (the Handbook), drawing on the recommendations of the 1995 University Task Force on Intellectual Property Report, that would bring University policy into line with long-established University practice and general academic custom (Almanac April 27). SEC adopted the recommended policies on copyright at its May 5 meeting, for inclusion in the Handbook. SEC also approved the Committee's recommendation that an ad hoc committee be established to review the University's policy on software.

At its April 7, 1999, meeting, SEC approved a change in the University's policies concerning the affiliations of clinical faculty and clinical associates in the Medical School (also for inclusion in the Handbook) that would take into account the fact that the University has purchased three hospitals where such faculty and teaching staff work and enable them to continue to practice and teach at these facilities (Almanac April 13, 1999). The Committee on the Faculty had theretofore discussed at length questions surrounding the status of clinician educators at the Medical School. The Provost had not forwarded any specific recommendations on the matter, and the Committee decided not to take any action on the matter until the Medical School's Faculty 2000 Committee was farther along in its work. At its May 5 meeting, several members of SEC urged that the Committee provide input into the deliberations of Faculty 2000 in the fall.

At its March meeting, SEC approved the recommendation of the Committee on the Faculty that the probationary periods for standing faculty (including both tenure-track faculty and clinician educators) and research faculty could be extended for up to one year after the year in which (1) a child was born or adopted into the family of the faculty member, (2) the faculty member is required to act as primary caregiver for defined relatives, or (3) the faculty member is unable to perform the functions of his or her position because of a serious health condition. SEC approved exact language implementing this change at its May 5 meeting, for inclusion in the Handbook (Almanac April 27, 1999).

The Committee on Students and Educational Policy made three recommendations in its April report (Almanac May 4, 1999), which were adopted the Senate Executive Committee at its May 5 meeting: (1) that the Faculty Senate organize a series of colloquia to inform the faculty about potential benefits and costs of distributed learning and the current status of the University's initiatives in this area. These colloquia would be designed to stimulate the development of academically sound policies for this important new area of pedagogic enterprise; (2) that the Faculty Senate continue to monitor the implementation of the academic aspects of the College House system; (3) that the Committee continue to collaborate with the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on an Educational Impact Statement to formulate appropriate procedures for such statements in light of the recently adopted Policy on Consultation and the Campus Development Plan process.

Starting last year and continuing through this winter, SEC took an active interest in the terms of the transfer of the Faculty Club from its present location in Skinner Hall to new facilities in the Inn at Penn. As a result of its action, the terms of the agreement between the University and the Club were modified to better protect the long-range interests of the Club. Several faculty members, especially Richard Wesley, head of the Department of Architecture, worked actively with the Inn's architects and interior designers to improve the design of the new facility.

The Senate Committee on Academic Freedom and Responsibility examined the post-tenure review issue at length, and its April report and recommendations will be taken up in the Fall.


I leave my year as chair with a heightened appreciation for the wisdom and dedication of the faculty members who participated in the deliberations of the Senate Executive Committee and the various Faculty Senate committees. I look forward to another year working with you, and with Peter Conn and Larry Gross, the chair-elect, as we seek to guide the University to new levels of accomplishment.

Respectfully submitted,

John C. Keene, Chair of the Faculty Senate


Almanac, Vol. 45, No. 32, May 11, 1999


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