SENATE From the Chair
1998-99 Annual Report of the Chair of the Faculty Senate
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.
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.
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.
John C. Keene, Chair of the Faculty Senate
Almanac, Vol. 45, No. 32, May 11, 1999