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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 Mitchell Marcus, or Kristine Kelly, Box 12 College Hall/6303, (215) 898-6943 or

Actions Taken by the Senate Executive Committee

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

1. Chair's Report. Faculty Senate Chair Mitch Marcus informed SEC that a new University committee jointed formed by the President, Provost and three Faculty Senate chairs has now been charged to review limited aspects of the University Patent Policy. He noted that the Committee consisted entirely of Penn faculty, who have been encouraged to call on University administrators, i.e. General Counsel, Center for Technology Transfer, to lend their expertise during the course of its work. The Committee will focus on the following four areas: (1) Intellectual Property Rights (IPR); (2) Disclosure of Inventions; (3) Management of Licensing; and (4) IPR and Faculty Consulting.

Professor Marcus, in advance of the Provost's presentation to SEC on the new Vice Provost for Strategic Initiatives position (see below), handed out the announcement in Almanac regarding this position. He announced that at the request of the Senate Chairs, the administration invoked the University Committee on Consultation, composed of the three Senate chairs, and the chairpersons of the Undergraduate Assembly and the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly, to confirm the procedure for selection of the new Vice Provost. Professor Marcus announced that he was one of those interviewing initial candidates for the new position, and that he expected that a number of faculty members would be among those meeting finalists for this position.

Professor Marcus next announced that the Senate Chairs were informed that Interim Associate Provost Walter Wales would be staying on in this position for another year. The Executive Committee expressed serious concern about the length of this interim appointment, given the importance of this position to the faculty. While SEC strongly supports the choice of Walter Wales as Interim Associate Provost, they would like to see a search underway as soon as possible, with maximum faculty input. A resolution was passed unanimously asking the chairs to discuss this with the President and Provost at their next meeting.

Professor Marcus then distributed a form that Penn recently received from the U.S. Department of Justice which must now be signed by every member of a research lab that uses one of a number of select biological agents. Signing the form authorizes the Department of Justice "to obtain any information relevant to assessing the suitability of [Penn Laboratory Personnel] to access, possess, use, receive or transfer select biological agents and toxins from any relevant source.... This information may include, but is not limited to, biographical, financial, law enforcement and intelligence information." Currently, there are a limited number of Penn research labs to which this law applies. Professor Marcus noted that he found the entire form disturbing but wanted to particularly highlight the ability of the U.S. Department of Justice, at their discretion, to release and/or disclose records or information to organizations or individuals, both public and private, to elicit information or cooperation from the recipient for use in this assessment.

2. Past Chair's Report on Academic Planning and Budget and Capital Council. Past Chair David Hackney noted that while the deliberations of Academic Planning and Budget and Capital Council are confidential, SEC is indeed learning, through various presentations, issues that are being discussed in both committees.

3. Gender Equity/Faculty Development Discussion. SEC began to discuss next steps in reaction to last year's Gender Equity report. The Senate Chairs informed the Committee that over the past few months they had met with various members of the University community, including: Phoebe Leboy, co-chair (with the late Barbara Lowery) of last year's Gender Equity Committee; Lois Evans, chair of AWFA, the Association of Women Faculty and Administrators; and Stephanie Abbuhl, director of FOCUS on Health and Leadership for Women of the School of Medicine, among others. They also contacted Wendy White, Vice President and General Counsel, to discuss what legal limits exist in addressing the issues of gender imbalance.

Among issues of wide concern to woman faculty members reported by the Chairs were the need for a more "family friendly" atmosphere across the University (e.g. eliminating early/late meetings), and the lack of faculty mentoring in many of Penn's schools. In the discussion that followed, it was agreed that SEC should take action leading to the creation of a new standing committee, to be called the Committee on Faculty Development Committee to investigate mechanisms to promote faculty diversity and to take on coordination of mentoring for all junior faculty and associate professors (not just women) across the University. This mentoring project would be coordinated and monitored through the Faculty Senate office.

SEC voted to immediately create an ad hoc committee to quickly develop the charge and role of this new standing committee. Once approved by SEC, this charge will be submitted for approval to the Faculty Senate as a whole, amending the Rules of the Faculty Senate.

4. Patriot Act Resolution Discussion. Due to the length of the previous agenda item, the Patriot Act discussion was postponed.

5. Provost Robert Barchi -- New Vice Provost for Strategic Initiatives Position. Provost Barchi joined the meeting to discuss and follow up on the announcement of the new Vice Provost position, shifting the Center for Technology Transfer entirely into the office of the Provost and creating within that office a new Office of Corporate and Industrial Relations. He emphasized the importance, he thought, of making this a Vice Provost position, rather than a Vice President, in order to emphasize the relationship between technology transition and the faculty. The Faculty Senate Chair noted that he had been contacted by several faculty members expressing discomfort with the new position, but SEC members present commented that they were pleased to see the creation of this position as many of them have been frustrated by the lack of central, streamlined faculty mechanism for technology transition and corporate contacts at Penn. SEC members strongly agreed that the title of Vice Provost was indeed appropriate.

6. Other New Business. It was unanimously agreed that SEC would shift its meetings for the 2003-2004 academic year to 2:30-5:00 p.m. in support of those with children in child-care, and would poll its membership about the possibility of shifting SEC's April and May meetings to this earlier time.


  Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 26, March 25, 2003