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 Larry Gross 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, February 2, 2000
1. Chair's Report. Faculty Senate Chair Larry Gross stated that the Chair, Past Chair and Chair-elect of the Faculty Senate had spent much time discussing the University of Pennsylvania Health System and the Institute for Human Gene Therapy among themselves and with the President and Provost. He noted that the next meeting of the University Council on February 9 will have as its major item of business an open forum on the Proposed Policy on Privacy in the Electronic Environment. There are now links to other relevant policies on the Almanac Web site. All members of the University Community are invited to participate in the discussion.
2. Past Chair's Report on Academic Planning and Budget Committee and on Capital Council. There have been three meetings since the last SEC meeting. On December 7 the committee heard an update on the Penn-assisted pre-k to 8 school and discussed two capital projects: the Pottruck Health and Fitness Center and the Levine Building (IAST-II), new home of the Department of Computer and Information Science. On January 18, the Provost gave an update on the Task Force on Intellectual Property and the Committee on Human Subjects. They also had a preliminary discussion on fiscal year 2001 to 2005 budget planning parameters. At the February 1 meeting, the Provost reported on the Locust Walk Advisory Committee, gave an update on the Institute for Human Gene Therapy, and began discussion on capital projects, priorities and financing for those underway and under discussion.
Several SEC members asked whether the Academic Planning and Budget Committee was consulted about the proposed reorganization of the Health System and the School of Medicine or about project delays and projects moved forward. SEC was informed that AP&BC was not consulted. The Senate Chair requested that these inquiries be taken back to AP&BC for exploration.
3. Selection of the Chair of the 2000 Senate Committee on Committees. Larry Gross was selected to chair the committee.
4. Election of five faculty to serve on the Council Committee on Committees. SEC nominated additional faculty to a preliminary list and voted by paper ballot using approval voting. The winners will be contacted. SEC authorized the Senate Chair to add more nominees should the list be exhausted.
5. Students with learning disabilities. Upon invitation of the Senate Chair, Judith Nathanson, the University's Learning Disabilities Specialist, explained her position, summarized the functional limitations of various learning disabilities, and provided background to prepare faculty should the issue arise. Dr. Nathanson meets with all students identified as having a learning disability, reviews documents, speaks with evaluators in the field, accepts or denies requests for accommodations, and recommends reasonable accommodations. Reasonable accommodations include providing the student with extra time, advance notes, note takers, readers, taping, or a laptop computer. Several SEC members noted that Federal law requires that accommodations be made. Another SEC member said it is the role of the faculty to determine what requirements will not be waived and that it is the role of the LD Specialist to give faculty realistic assessments of the nature of disabilities and accommodations.
6. Informal discussion with President Rodin and Provost Barchi. President Rodin stated that Senate Chair Larry Gross had asked them to discuss the reorganization of the Penn Health System and School of Medicine and issues surrounding the Institute for Human Gene Therapy. President Rodin said that when the Penn Health System was faced with financial issues, the administration and the trustees sought solutions. A trustee committee was formed to assess other structural models that might create a means to allow for quick, effective decisions, and better protect the University. The proposal was to separate all health services into a 501C3, wholly owned by the University, leaving the School of Medicine and the Clinical Practices within the University. The committee's report was submitted to Trustee Chair James Riepe. President Rodin said that at the present time the administration has no plans to bring a proposal to the Board of Trustees, and that further steps would not occur without extensive consultation with the faculty. Remediation steps are underway for the short term, but reorganization may be needed in the future. The President said the administration will actively involve the School of Medicine faculty in future discussions. Provost Barchi pointed out that the heart of the Health System is the faculty of the School of Medicine. In response to a SEC member's question about the role of consultation and trustee decisions, President Rodin said the trustees have a fiduciary responsibility, that there is a sunshine law that requires votes be taken in the open, and that the trustees can make decisions with far-reaching effects for the University. The SEC discussion ranged from concerns over organization, management, personnel, and resources to the discrepancy in the way the proposal was presented to the School of Medicine department chairs and faculty. Provost Barchi said the trustee report was a planning exercise that recommended ways to optimize positive outcomes and that the decision was made to have further discussions.
President Rodin summarized the situation at the Institute for Human Gene Therapy. The Federal Drug Administration has suspended clinical trials and removed the investigatory drug. The University is focusing on preparing a response to the FDA and has appointed an internal committee to review Penn's human subjects investigation procedures and an external review committee to study the Institute for Human Gene Therapy's monitoring, oversight and reporting procedures.
7. Discussion with Chair of the Medical Faculty Senate Howard Herrmann. Professor Herrmann outlined the history of the events surrounding the trustee report recommending reorganization of the health services and its relationship to the School of Medicine. The trustee committee was formed last spring and the proposal was presented at a meeting of the Medical School basic science department chairs, then to the clinical department chairs, and subsequently to the Steering Committee of the Medical Faculty Senate in early January. Professor Herrmann stated that in the 1980s there were separate heads of the Health System and the School of Medicine. The Medical faculty advocated for one CEO to head the integrated organization that was established with the arrival of the current dean. At a special meeting of the Medical Faculty Senate on February 1, 2000, 500 faculty members voted to retain the current structure of a single CEO, a system under which they have made academic strides. An extended discussion ensued ranging from whether there was adequate consultation with the Faculty Senate leadership to concern of the entire University faculty about the financial condition of the Penn Health System and its impact on the University.
Almanac, Vol. 46, No. 20, February 8, 2000