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 John Keene or Executive Assistant Carolyn Burdon, Box 12 College Hall/6303, (215) 898-6943 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Actions Taken by the Senate Executive Committee
Wednesday, October 6, 1999
1. Chair's Report.
a. The chair drew attention to 1998-99 year-end reports of several University Council committees published in Almanac October 5, 1999. He urged SEC members to attend the next University Council meeting on October 13 to participate in discussion of the reports and in particular discussion on financial aid presented by President Judith Rodin with Mr. William Schilling.
b. The Provost's Committee on Distributed Learning, chaired by James O'Donnell (Almanac October 5, 1999) has been announced and SEC members were invited to communicate their concerns and suggestions to the committee.
c. SEC members were reminded to submit nominees for service on the Senate Nominating Committee.
2. Past Chair's Report on Academic Planning and Budget Committee.
In his capacity as Past Chair, John Keene reported the committee had met twice since the last SEC meeting. At the first meeting the budget system was reviewed and at the second, current and planned real estate projects.
3. Senate Committee Vacancies.
SEC selected by acclamation several nominees for one one-year vacancy on the Senate Committee on Academic Freedom and Responsibility and on the Senate Committee on the Economic Status of the Faculty.
4. University Alcohol and Drug Policy.
The chair stated that Deputy Provost Peter Conn had requested SEC consider supporting the new policy. In the extended discussion, some faculty questioned why SEC should support something that was already state law, while others stressed the importance of faculty serving as role models, and supported the new policy and its effort to encourage activities that do not include alcohol consumption.
A motion was moved and seconded that, "The Senate Executive Committee commends the members of the Working Group on Alcohol Abuse and other participants in the preparation of the policy for their responsible and careful work. SEC recommends to our faculty colleagues that they take available opportunities to manifest support for the underlying norms and specified procedures of the policy." The motion passed with one abstention.
5. Informal Discussion With the President and Provost.
President Rodin and Provost Barchi addressed topics as requested by Faculty Senate Chair John Keene.
a. Update on Recent Events in the Health System. President Rodin reviewed recent efforts in the University of Pennsylvania Health System, working with the Hunter Group, to identify reductions in the workforce and remediation strategies. She noted Medical School Dean William Kelley had sent a memorandum to Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania employees informing them there would be significant layoffs. The number is not clear at this point but the layoffs will be selective and system wide. Cost reductions are needed in the short-run and further steps to curtail costs must be considered in the long-run. President Rodin said the University is committed to maintaining the stability and excellence of the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing, and to protect the research activities of the School of Medicine. Provost Barchi pointed out that transfers from the Health System to the School of Medicine will be reduced, there may also be collateral damage to other schools. In response to a SEC member's question, the provost said current clinician educators will not be affected but plans to appoint new clinician educators or non-standing faculty may be. A SEC member asked whether there was a firewall between the Health System and the University. President Rodin stated that, while there is a legal separation as reflected in the Master Indenture Trust, there is no firewall. In response to a question from SEC, the president said the debt covenant required the University to bring in the Hunter Group because of the financial deficit of the Health System. She went on to observe that the University's allocated cost formula taxes schools with significant revenue generation. When that revenue ceases, the University no longer benefits from it. In the case of the Health System that benefit stopped 14 months ago. In addition to developing cost reduction strategies, the administration is actively seeking relief at the federal, state and local levels. She and other academic leaders are in discussion with congressional leaders to mitigate the impacts of the Balanced Budget Act on university health systems. Furthermore, since Pennsylvania is one of the few states that does not fund indigent health care the University is seeking assistance from Governor Ridge. Last year, for example, HUP gave indigents some $50 million of uncompensated health care. For the short term, President Rodin said the University will assume there will be no outside financial relief. Medical School SEC members expressed concern about a recent request to their chair to develop a plan for a 25% cut in the departmental budget by the end of the day. Provost Barchi acknowledged that service departments will need to take staff cuts while continuing to provide services. The billing process is being reengineered to improve billing accuracy, to accelerate acceptance by third party payers, and to reduce costs.
b. Dean Searches in Engineering, Law, and Wharton. Provost Barchi stated that a short list was in hand for the Engineering dean and a short list would be submitted in a few weeks for the Wharton dean. Additional candidates were coming through for the Law dean.
6. Medical School Faculty - 2000.
Past Chair of the Medical Faculty Senate and Chair of the Faculty 2000 Project James Saunders gave a detailed presentation on the process. He said that the project grew out of concerns of the Medical Faculty Senate Steering Committee, particularly regarding the ability of junior faculty in the clinician educator track to fulfill the academic requirements for promotion. The Faculty - 2000 mission is to identify strategies and techniques that will guarantee the scholarly character of the faculty of the School of Medicine into the next century.
Professor Saunders stated the project has the support of Medical School Dean William Kelley, who is sponsoring a symposium next month. The symposium panelists are respected medical educators from Columbia, Harvard, Johns Hopkins and Washington University.
Four working groups with co-chairs have been established with 28 members
on each: clinician educator track, tenure track, issues of concern to faculty
with special opportunities, and senior faculty. Recommendations of the working
groups will be discussed at a Medical School faculty retreat in late February.
The Faculty - 2000 Steering Committee will finalize the recommendations
and submit them to the dean for review through normal Medical School procedures
and to the provost. They will then be forwarded to the Faculty Senate for
review and comment. A SEC member expressed concern that none of the committees
has been charged with examining these issues in a comprehensive fashion.
Another SEC member asked whether the committees were going to consider
health system models that differed from Pennsylvania's. Professor Saunders
responded that their analysis would only be of the Penn model.
Almanac, Vol. 46, No. 7, October 12, 1999