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, 898-6943 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Chair's Report. Faculty Senate Chair John Keene noted there was faculty concern regarding scheduling of the open forum on phase-out of the modem pool at the same time as the SEC meeting. He reminded SEC that there will be an open forum regarding the Campus Development Plan on December 6 and 13 (see Almanac November 23/30, 1999) on separate issues. He also said that the University is planning changes in the 403b retirement plan to insure compliance with the Internal Revenue Service requirements (click here for more).
2. Past Chair's Report on Academic Planning and Budget Committee. There have been two meetings of the Academic Planning and Budget Committee since the last SEC meeting. One focused on the internal cost recovery system and the other on research administration and regulatory affairs.
3. Election of 1999-2000 Senate Nominating Committee Chair. Robert Hornik was elected as chair of the committee (click here for more).
4. Selection of 2000 Senate Committee on Committees. Nominations were made for the seven positions on the committee. SEC voted and the winners will be contacted.
5. Informal Discussion with the Provost. Provost Barchi addressed several topics requested by Senate Chair John Keene. The Provost stated that the University agreement with Singapore Institute of Management is to advise them on development of a four-year undergraduate business program leading to a bachelor's degree in management for their new Singapore Management University (SMU). SMU will award graduate and undergraduate degrees. Professor Janice Bellace, former director of the Wharton-SMU Research Center, is taking a two-year leave of absence from the University to serve as SMU's first president. SMU's initial funding will be from the Singapore government. A SEC member asked whether SMU would operate under University of Pennsylvania guidelines covering conflict of interest and freedom of research and publication. Provost Barchi said he would review the agreement and report back to SEC.
On the matter of English fluency, Provost Barchi noted that he regularly meets with student groups and routinely hears that students cannot understand teaching assistants and teaching assistants cannot understand them. State law requires teacher fluency. Deputy Provost Peter Conn will study this matter along with the Council of Deans.
A SEC member inquired about the status of implementation of the alcohol policy. The Provost said there have been fewer registered parties and no serious alcohol abuse cases this semester. There are concerns regarding off-campus parties.
An inquiry was raised about bicycle and skateboard problems. Provost Barchi said the focus of the recently appointed Working Group is on creating bicycle lanes and educating bicyclists on the benefits of wearing helmets. Another SEC member pointed out that there is no balance in the traffic flow to and from campus. The Provost responded that the east-west streets cannot be closed but the laws are being actively enforced.
Regarding phase-out of the modem pool, Provost Barchi said the 33.6 kbps modem pool is supported by allocated costs of $14 million, and direct cost to users. Over $1 million would be required to increase the speed of the modems, in addition to the $1 million per year operation cost. There are over 1,000 supported modems and over 14,000 users per month. The demand for wide band access is increasing rapidly and in five years most people will use an internet provider for remote access at home. The cost of Penn's basic internet connection has grown from $50,000 a year ago to over $325,000 today. Vice Provost James O'Donnell has established the Network Task Force, a 14-member committee with mostly technical staff and a couple faculty members. The committee has recommended charging for the modem pool beginning July 1, 2000 and eliminating the pool on June 30, 2001. He noted that Vice Provost O'Donnell would explain more later in the meeting. In response to several questions from SEC members, Provost Barchi said that with an Internet Service Provider (ISP), rather than a modem pool, arrangements will be made that allow access to the library from outside and to retain a PennNet address. The University is working on bringing cable modems to campus and adding another bulk vendor to the existing DCA Net. A SEC member stated the change will have more financial impact on those with lower incomes-students and staff.
6. Proposed Handbook Revision Concerning Clinical Faculty in the Associated Faculty and Clinical Associate in the Academic Support Staff in the School of Nursing. Nursing School SEC Member Sarah Kagan presented the proposal as recommended by the School of Nursing and the Senate Committee on the Faculty. Professor Kagan stated that there is a need to acknowledge the contribution of the clinical faculty to the teaching mission of the School of Nursing and to impart a set of values. Further, there has been growth in the development of several large independent professional practices. A SEC member noted that the Dental School is considering making a similar proposal. Upon motion, several revisions were made to the proposal. The amended motion was moved, seconded, and adopted unanimously (see page 3).
7. Draft Policy on Electronic Privacy. SEC member and chair of the University Council Committee on Communications Martin Pring provided background on the proposed revised policy and invited comment. He recalled that in 1995 a previous version of the policy was brought to SEC for faculty comment and was approved unanimously by University Council. Subsequently it disappeared. The drafting committee has been negotiating with the Office of the General Counsel to revive the proposal. The draft before SEC is a compromise on the original version. Professor Pring noted that case law clearly favors the rights of employers who supply equipment to gain access to their employees' electronic communications. Under the law, employee e-mail is completely open to the employer, but in Professor Pring's view the University will not go that far with faculty e-mail. Another member of the drafting committee and former Faculty Senate Chair Gerald Porter stated that when he worked on the Policy on Safeguarding Assets, privacy was the responsibility of the individual to the system. The Policy on Electronic Privacy is meant to extend the protection now afforded to materials in Penn offices to electronic materials in Penn virtual offices, our computers. He believes the policy would have gone through more quickly if it covered only faculty privacy, but the proposed University policy covers faculty, staff and students and is therefore more complicated. This draft policy is intended to make the guardians aware of their responsibility to the individual. He advised SEC that e-mail should be treated as though it were a postcard. In the end, the caveat is that there is no guarantee of electronic privacy.
After a brief discussion and a minor revision to insert a missing word, it was moved and seconded that the Senate Executive Committee endorse the proposed Draft Policy on Privacy in the Electronic Environment, dated November 10, 1999. The motion was adopted. Professor Pring noted that the policy will go before University Council.
Professor Porter requested that the record indicate thanks to Professor Martin Pring and Executive Director of SAS and SEAS Computing Ira Winston for their hard work in the development of the new policy.
8. Motion of Thanks. Chair-elect Larry Gross noted that normally in the spring at the end of the term of the Faculty Senate Chair there is an expression of gratitude and SEC has already done that, but SEC needs to do that again. It was moved and seconded that the Senate Executive Committee expresses its gratitude to both outgoing Chair John Keene and outgoing Secretary Martin Pring for their above and beyond the call to duty for the Faculty Senate. The motion was adopted unanimously followed by applause.
9. Modem Pool Phase-out. Vice Provost for Information Systems and Computing James O'Donnell summarized the reasons for the proposed phase-out and the feedback received from faculty, staff and students. The cost of the modem pool is high, it is rising rapidly, and the technology will be out-of-date and no longer upgraded within the next five years. He stated several approaches that were recommended by the Network Task Force and assured SEC members that the new remote access will be at a good price, that quality of the provider will be monitored, and that there will be access to the library, FinMIS, SPS, etc. He is hearing from many graduate students, who live on an $1100 stipend, and part-time faculty that they will be adversely affected by any increased cost. Vice Provost O'Donnell said the administration will recommend several remote access providers and will identify those who may make it difficult to use a Penn e-mail address. The policy may include making a smaller, slower modem pool available free, at least over the near term. He closed his remarks by inviting comment via e-mail.
Almanac, Vol. 46, No. 14, December 7, 1999