the final Council meeting of the semester last Wednesday,
moderator Dr. Janice Bellace noted that it was Dr. Judith
Rodin's last such meeting as President and how Dr. Rodin
has demonstrated "her commitment to the University and
her passion for excellence in everything the University
does." Dr. Bellace add that, "we are all grateful
for her inspired and energetic leadership with the University,
which has made the place move forward so greatly from when
she first came."
reported that its new chair for next year will be Simi
Wilhelm; the UA reported that its new chair next year will
be Jason Levine.
Rodin then took the opportunity to reminisce about how
special the University Council structure is, giving faculty,
staff and student groups a forum to "debate with civility," recalling
that there was nothing like it at Yale where she had come
from 10 years ago. Dr. Rodin described Council as a "pressure
valve," a "response vehicle," a "warning sign," and a "conscience." She
thanked everyone who had expended energy on behalf of their
constituencies to make Council an effective group. She
cited examples of progress that emanated from the "energy
at Council deliberations," such as the privacy officer,
safety improvements, gender and minority equity, and MLK
Day as a Penn holiday.
Will Gipson gave a report on the Dialogues on Race, as
chair of the steering committee which presented diversity-related
events and a website (www.upenn.edu/dialogues_on_race/). Rev.
Gipson said that there are plans to include other groups,
such as the Latino organizations on campus. President Rodin
said that the Dialogues are a "really important first step" in
helping the community "learn to talk with one another."
Dennis Culhane, chair of the Pluralism Committee, gave
the final report in which he stressed the importance of
measuring success of interactions among students and how
the on campus housing policy is not consistent with the
University's non-discrimination policy. Provost Robert
Barchi said that while the administration has made efforts
to be responsive to individual issues and complaints, it
is a much more involved process to change a University
policy. He said that would require serious deliberations
involving many administrators.
Sohrab Rabii, chair of the International Programs Committee,
gave the final report which involved the ongoing question
of how to provide affordable short-term housing for visiting
international scholars; how to handle the homeland
security requirements as well as coping with fraudulent
material being submitted by some applicants, primarily
from the People's Republic of China. He also noted that
long-time executive director of International Programs
Dr. Joyce Randolph will be retiring.