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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 Lance Donaldson-Evans, Box 12, College Hall/6303, (215) 898-6943.

Senate Executive Committee Actions

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

1. Chair's Report. Senate Chair Lance Donaldson-Evans reported that he had, as agreed upon by the Senate Executive Committee last month, sent a letter on behalf of SEC to James Riepe, Chairman of the Board of Trustees and of the Consultative Committee for the Selection of a President, underscoring the importance of giving due weight to presidential candidates' willingness to consult with the faculty.  Professor Donaldson-Evans expressed satisfaction with Mr. Riepe's reply, and confidence that the faculty members serving on the Consultative Committee would faithfully represent faculty viewpoints as the presidential selection process moves forward.

2. Past Chair's Report on Academic Planning and Budget and Capital Council. Past Chair Mitchell Marcus reported that, since the last SEC meeting, the Academic Planning and Budget Committee had met twice. In those meetings, the Committee had received updates on plans for an urban institute, heard reports on early admissions and a proposal for a new graduate degree program in geoscience, and discussed student diversity.

3. Names for Faculty Caucus. Senate Chair Lance Donaldson-Evans explained that recent changes in the scheduling of midterm reports from University Council Committees had required shifting the meeting schedule for the Council Committee on Committees, which is charged with monitoring all Council standing and ad hoc committees to assess their continuing usefulness. At this juncture, in order to hear midterm reports from committee chairs, the faculty caucus on the Committee on Committees would need to be reconstituted, or carried over in its current membership through January. Hearing no objections, Professor Donaldson-Evans entered a motion to extend current faculty membership on the Committee.  The motion was approved.

4. Presentation on University Finances. Craig Carnaroli, Vice President for Finance and Treasurer, provided an overview of the University's debt policy.  Recent news coverage in the Philadelphia Inquirer of the Trustees' November review of University finance had highlighted Penn's current levels of indebtedness (currently $1.4 billion, much of which stems from operation of the health system). Vice President Carnaroli discussed likely future trends in the University's debt position and its debt-management policies. In the coming years, the University plans to retire $350 million in debt, but will also need to borrow an additional $200 million. Costs of debt service will be heavy in 2005 and 2006; but the University's overall debt position should remain relatively stable, and policies are in place providing guidelines for continued growth, a reasonable match of assets and liabilities, and management of debt capacity that should either maintain or improve modestly Penn's standing relative to peer institutions. 

5. Visit by President Rodin and Provost Barchi. President Judith Rodin and Provost Robert Barchi joined the Committee for a discussion of several issues. These included financial management in the coming years, plans for further capital expansion, and gender and minority equity on the faculty.  They noted, following up on Vice President Carnaroli's presentation, that the base budget for the University provides for capital expansion, and that the many improvements in recent years were accomplished under conditions, in terms of the University's debt position, that were similar to those likely to be experienced in coming years. Plans for acquisition of properties toward the Schuylkill River, along with development of area buildings for expanded research space, continue. The economic downturn of the past several years does mean continued "belt tightening" in the near-term future, but in fact Penn's financial adjustments (e.g., a reduced salary program, freezing high-level administrative salaries, tightening of job reclassifications) have been less dramatic than interventions necessitated at many peer institutions. Provost Barchi outlined recent steps taken to improve gender equity on the faculty, noting increases in the proportions of women on various School faculties. A Minority Equity Committee is expected to complete a report by sometime next fall.

6. New Business. No new business was brought to the Committee.



  Almanac, Vol. 50, No. 17, January 13, 2004