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Town Meetings: Providing Input to Committee

On Tuesday, September 30, the Consultative Committee for the Selection of a President held three Town Meetings to solicit input from the faculty, staff and students as the Committee begins the search process.

The Committee members at the meeting for the faculty were: professors Phoebe Leboy and Ann Matter, GAPSA chair Robert Alvarez; and trustee Paul Williams. The dozen or so faculty who attended at lunchtime were told that the process is at its inception, and it is not too late for input; in spite of an unofficial "short list" published in Philadelphia magazine.

Several of the faculty who voiced an opinion focused on the desire for the new president to have an academic orientation and to avoid becoming too corporate. One professor said that while Dr. Rodin has helped Penn "become fabulous and to grow" the University now needs to consolidate and nurture, paying attention to details. Another said that Penn can't stop growing, citing the postal properties which Penn intends to develop. Other concerns involved having an international vision, a commitment to gender equity, as well as a commitment to fostering community within the University and beyond, and a willingness to provide resources to support interschool initiatives, continuing the huge strides that have been made. Another noted that there is nothing inherently bad about a business model, but that Penn should blend that with academia's needs to remain a world-renowned university.

At the late afternoon meeting for administrators and staff, there were five panelists: Rob Alvarez; Paul Williams; professors Ann Matter and Mitchell Marcus, and trustee Egbert Perry. There were about 50 staff present, many of whom asked why there is not a single staff member represented on the Committee. One suggested that the Trustees should modify the statutes to include staff in light of the changing role of staff over the past 10-15 years. PPSA and WPSA chairs said they will be conducting a survey via e-mail and will share the results with the Committee. Others spoke about the importance of a president who can help move the City into the 21st century; the need to balance corporate structure and educational goals, accessibility to all constituents, a commitment to shared governance, and a vision that includes the new frontiers of the Internet as Penn reaches around the world.

About 30 students attended the meeting designated for them and there were seven panelists: trustees James Riepe, Michael Tarnopol and David Silfen; professors Charles Mooney and Howard Kunreuther, and two students Dierdra Reber and Ophelia Roman. Some of the issues raised by graduate students included ability and willingness to negotiate with collective bargaining units such as GET-UP; the multiple roles of the president as a CEO and as an academic leader; the lack of staff on the Committee, and the increased reliance on post-docs in teaching. Undergrads voiced concerns about diversity and support for minority resources; continued commitment to community; and more equitable funding for facilities.



  Almanac, Vol. 50, No. 7, October 7, 2003