COUNCIL Overview of October 13 Meeting
Committee Charges for 1999-2000

In opening reports at the October 13 meeting of the University Council, President Rodin led with congratulations to the Annenberg School on its 40th Anniversary celebration and the opening of its Public Policy Center. Provost Robert Barchi--after announcing that for the second time in three years a Penn alumnus has won the Nobel Prize (click here), Dr. Robert Barchi outlined follow-up evaluations to be made as the new Alcohol Policy is implemented: an interim report by the end of this term with another at year's end.

For Steering, Professor John Keene noted that the charges of Council committees now incorporate suggestions made at the September 22 Council meeting. (Please see below).

GAPSA now has an Interim Chair, Kendra Nicholson, who said a general assembly will be held soon. UA's extensive list of topics now includes preparation of an alcohol pamphlet for students living off-campus, exploration of creating a website for buying/selling used books, a lighting survey, and a dining survey comparing food before and after outsourcing to Bon Appetit. An additional concern was that new retail outlets are too "upscale" for student pocketbooks, and that the campus has not only lost Fiesta Pizza, two Burger Kings and three My Favorite Muffins, and "there's no bagel store." (Dr. Rodin said during Q & A that the reopening of Houston Hall is expected to restore some variety.)

PPSA Chair Terri White said staff are also concerned about the mix of retail options now on campus, and have invited Business Services Vice President Lee Nunery to address this, along with issues in parking and towing, at the October 20 general meeting. Separately, PPSA plans to meet with HR Vice President Jack Heuer about the graduate tax, which she called burdensome enough to deter some members from using the tuition benefit.

The newly elected chair of the A-3 Assembly, Debra Smiley Koita, announced that the Assembly has a new slate of officers (click here) and a new constitution (click here).

Reports: Dr. Judith Rodin was joined by Financial Aid Director William Schilling in an in-depth report on financial aid to undergraduates at Penn, including comparisons with Ivy and other comparable institutions. A detailed summary is being prepared for publication.

As part of Dr. Martin Pring's report of the Communications Committee, ISC's Vice Provost, Dr. James O'Donnell, made a brief appearance to explain the likelihood that the high-speed modem pool for off-campus access to PennNet will be phased out by 2001, given the cost to Penn and the rise of commercial alternatives that did not exist when the University established its pool.

University Council Committee Charges 1999-2000

September 30, 1999

Admissions & Financial Aid Committee

  • Continue to review the University's admissions and financial aid policies in the context of its peer institutions and make recommendations on how Penn might enhance its standing over time.
  • In consultation with the Committee on Pluralism, review the tools available for recruiting and retaining a diverse student population, assess their results and trends within those results, and make recommendations regarding changes or additions to the existing approach. Make a preliminary report to Council not later than the December 1999 meeting.
  • Work with Committee on Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics in their review of the status of student-athlete admissions.

Bookstore Committee

  • Barnes & Noble has been engaged in the management of the Penn Bookstore over the past year. Continue to review the performance of Barnes & Noble in terms of meeting the needs of Penn's academic community and make recommendations on how the Bookstore can continue to achieve its goals of quality of service and efficiency.
  • Monitor all resources for acquisition of teaching materials, including independent bookstores and other vendors (e.g., on-line vendors), in assessing whether the combination of resources meets the needs of the academic community. In assessing these resources, examine issues of competition among the sources or vendors and the advantages or disadvantages to the Penn community that result from this competition.
  • Examine opportunities for better pricing on teaching materials for large enrollment classes and recommend ways to communicate strategies for better pricing to faculty. Review the factors influencing the Penn Bookstore's buy-back policy and make recommendations regarding policies that would reduce the overall cost of books and teaching materials to students.

Committee on Communications

  • Complete and recommend an electronic privacy policy, consulting with the Committee on Open Expression as necessary.
  • Determine whether the Pennsylvania Current fulfills the goals envisioned for it and make recommendations as to how it can continue to serve the University community.
  • Maintain oversight of the Network Planning Task Force, continuing to review the policy on modem connections to PennNet and remote access generally.
  • After the release of the new version of the Penn Website, assess its effectiveness as a communications tool for the various constituencies both inside and outside of the University.
  • Review and monitor Penntrex business and billing arrangements.
  • Provide advice and counsel to the Library Committee on their efforts to make recommendations to increase students' knowledge of the library services available to them.
  • Provide guidance to the Personnel Benefits Committee as it assesses the dissemination of benefits information and makes recommendations on improvements--including the use of new technologies.

Community Relations Committee

  • Over the past several years, the University has developed, with community input, a number of initiatives that seek to strengthen its relationship with its neighbors. Continue to maintain oversight of the University's impact on the community, giving special attention to real estate developments and transactions, the planned preK-8 school at the Divinity School, and the Center for Community Partnerships. Conduct meetings with selected neighborhood organizations and their leaders and other residents to determine their perception of the University's relationship with the community.
  • Expand the scope of the Committee's review to include the University's overall relationship with the City of Philadelphia.

Facilities Committee

  • The University engaged the services of Trammell Crow to manage its physical plant. In doing so, the University seeks to improve the quality and efficiency of facilities management. Review the performance of Trammell Crow; report to Council on the progress toward the University's stated goals. Make recommendations on how those goals might be further advanced.
  • As the University engages in a campus-wide development planning process, continue to play an active role in the discussion and ensure appropriate participation by members of the University community. The Committee should have a special focus on what the ongoing planning process should be and the role of the Facilities Committee in that process. It should also assure appropriate attention to recreational facilities for students.
  • In consultation with the Safety and Security Committee and with the campus development planning process, continue to review circulation within campus, paying special attention to cyclists and pedestrians, and when the bicycle lanes have been implemented recommend improvements where needed. Follow up on the previous year's work to finalize a recommendation to Council on the creation of a comprehensive transportation department.
  • Consult with the Committee on Student Affairs on their assessment of on- and off-campus living options, and on their assessment of adequacy of graduate student activity space.

International Programs Committee

  • Having reviewed the orientation programs and outreach for international students, further explore the feasibility of an International Center and how it would serve the student population. Continue to recommend options for short-term housing for international guests on campus.
  • Evaluate and respond to the question of why students are charged Penn tuition and fees while they are studying abroad.

Library Committee

  • The University has undertaken a multi-phase renovation of Van Pelt-Dietrich Library's physical facilities and a substantial upgrading of its computing and research capabilities to serve the research needs of students and faculty. With the renovations of Rosengarten, evaluate how the renovations of the library meet the needs of the University community.
  • Assess the adequacy of access hours, especially to those libraries containing specialized materials of particular relevance to graduate student research, and compare with operations at peer institutions.
  • Evaluate the orientation and outreach to students to inform them about library services. Consult with the Committees on Communications and Student Affairs on recommendations to increase students' knowledge of the resources available to them.

Personnel Benefits Committee

  • Provide advice and counsel on benefits issues within the University Community, with a continued emphasis this year on mental health benefits, retirement benefits, and benefits for part-time employees. Assess the dissemination of benefits information and make recommendations on improvements--including the use of new technologies--consulting as necessary with the Committee on Communications.
  • The University engaged the services of Hewitt Associates for the administration and service delivery of the University's health and welfare ben-efits. In doing so, the University seeks to better meet the needs of HR customers (Penn employees) by improving the quality, timeliness and con-sistency of benefits service delivery; to achieve the cost-containment goals of the Agenda for Excellence; and to enable HR staff to focus more on the strategic work around the University's benefits programs including benefits planning, design and ongoing legal monitoring, analysis and reporting. Review the performance of Hewitt Associates; report to Council on the progress toward the University's stated goals. Make recommendations on how those goals might be further advanced.
  • Investigate questions related to retirement funds: 1) early withdrawal options; 2) use to supplement income during graded retirement; 3) extension of current A-1/2 plans to A-3 employees.

Committee on Pluralism

  • The University of Pennsylvania seeks to enhance the diversity of its student body, faculty, and staff. Review the policies and procedures of the University to achieve these goals, focusing both on creating a diverse community and maintaining it. Include in this effort, the roles played by the composition and conduct of the Division of Public Safety in ensuring respect for diversity in the University community.
  • In consultation with the Committee on Admissions and Financial Aid, review the tools available for recruiting and retaining a diverse student population, assess their results and trends within those results, and make recommendations regarding changes or additions to the existing approach.
  • In consultation with the Committee on Student Affairs, make recommendations on how to maintain an environment that embraces pluralism within the student body with regard to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and religion.

Committee on Recreation & Intercollegiate Athletics

  • Using the Brailsford & Dunlavey report, review the University's progress toward improving recreational facilities. Make recommendations as to how Penn can achieve its stated goals in this area and how new facilities should be evaluated.
  • Continue to assess the effectiveness of the University's advising system for athletes to ensure they are in compliance with University policies, including those on drug use, NCAA requirements and other policies, with a particular focus on the education and awareness components of the system. In evaluating policies and practices related to student-athletes, ensure that the spirit as well as the letter of the NCAA's policies are followed.
  • In conjunction with the Committee on Ad-missions and Financial Aid, review the status of student-athlete admissions, focusing on the numbers of student-athletes admitted and their subsequent graduation rates.

Committee on Research

  • Review the University's relationship with the University City Science Center, determining the goals of the relationship and assessing their appropriateness and extent to which they are being achieved.
  • Examine the assignment and distribution of indirect costs and specifically explore the structure of indirect cost computation and the possibilities of returning more to individual researchers and their departments. Incorporate into the committee's consideration, the administration's report on these issues as soon as it is available.
  • Continue to work with the Office of Post-doctoral Programs in the Medical School in the development of policies concerning postdoctoral fellows, in particular addressing grievance mechanisms, mentor training, and issues related to early dismissals. Assess the extension of the School of Medicine's postdoctoral policies to other schools.

Safety and Security Committee

  • The safety and security of all members of the Penn community are of paramount concern to the University. Mindful of this goal, work with the Committee on Student Affairs to educate community members about safety, with an emphasis on seeking continuity of message to students during their studies at Penn. Using the International Programs Committee's work as a model, assess the provision to the community as a whole, the safety-related programs and materials that are provided to international visitors.
  • In consultation with the Facilities Committee and with the campus development planning process, continue to review circulation within campus, paying special attention to cyclists and pedestrians, and recommend improvements where needed.
  • The committee should give special attention to issues concerning the safety of women on campus.

Committee on Student Affairs

  • With the implementation of the recommendations of the Working Group on Alcohol Abuse, review ways of measuring the success of the rec-ommendations. In the context of those measurements, assess the success of the alcohol policy, providing a preliminary report to Council at the beginning of the second semester, and a final report to Council at the conclusion of the academic year.
  • In consultation with the Committee on Pluralism, make recommendations on how to maintain an environment that embraces pluralism within the student body with regard to race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and religion.
  • Evaluate the progress of Penn's College House System in its effort to integrate academic and student life programs and services. Report findings to Council and make recommendations as to how the initiative can be strengthened.
  • Assess the quality of life of students who live off campus and, in consultation with the Facilities Committee, assess potential changes in the balance between on-campus and off-campus living opportunities resulting from the renovation plans for on-campus residences.
  • Assess the adequacy of space available for graduate student activities and organizations, consulting with the Facilities Committee as needed, and make recommendations to Council.
  • Review the orientation of transfer students, focusing on what programs exist and what forms of outreach are in place to encourage transfer students to use them.
  • Provide advice and counsel to the Library Committee on their efforts to make recommendations to increase students' knowledge of the library services available to them.
  • The safety and security of all members of the Penn community are of paramount concern to the University. Mindful of this goal, work with the Safety and Security Committee, to educate com-munity members about safety, with an emphasis on seeking continuity of message to students during their studies at Penn.


Almanac, Vol. 46, No. 8, October 19, 1999

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