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COUNCIL 2004-2005 Year-end Committee Report

Community Relations

Scheduled for Discussion at Council at March 16, 2005

Also see the Bookstore and Facilities Year-end Committe Reports.

Committee Charge:

General Charge: 

The Committee on Community Relations shall advise on the relationship of the University to the surrounding community. It shall advise the Council and help make policy with respect to the community. It shall work with the Office of Community Relations to assure that the University develops and maintains a constructive relationship with the community. The chair of the Committee shall have cognizance of pending real estate activities of concern to the community. The chair along with the director of community relations shall meet quarterly or more often, if needed, with the executive vice president or his or her designee for real estate to be informed of impending real estate activities that affect the community. They shall, with discretion, discuss relevant cases with the Committee, and may inform the community as the need arises. The Committee shall consist of eight faculty members, four representatives of the Penn Professional Staff Assembly, two representatives of the Weekly-Paid Professional Staff Assembly, two graduate/professional students, and two undergraduates. At least three members shall reside in West Philadelphia. The executive vice president or his or her designee, the directors of  Community Relations, the African-American Resource Center, the Center for Community Partnerships, and Civic House shall be non-voting ex-officio members of the Committee.

2004 Specific Charge:

1.  Analyze the scope and effectiveness of Penn’s outreach to the surrounding community.

2.  Investigate ways in which students can become more involved in a positive interaction with the community and how they can become better neighbors.

2004-2005 Meeting Dates:

1.  September 15, 2004: Van tour of West Philadelphia led by Glenn Bryan, Office of Government, Community and Public Affairs and John McGarry, Office of Real Estate; discussion of the geography, society and real estate of the West Philadelphia neighborhoods.

2.    October 13, 2004: Discussion of van tour. Presentation: “The Health of Our Neighbors” by Judith Fisher, Chair, with ensuing discussion. This discussion included thoughts regarding the enfranchised vs. disenfranchised individuals in our neighborhoods as well as the past work of this Committee. The chair challenged the Committee to pursue efforts to “meet and lend a voice to the disenfranchised in our West Philadelphia neighborhood.”

3.  November 3, 2004: Discussion of the power of the data on the health of our neighbors and the possibility of our Committee recommending that the University Council recommend that President Gutmann (1) establish a yearly or bi-yearly “community theme” and challenge the members of the University community to “rally” research, educational and service efforts around the chosen theme; and (2) commence a university-wide debate on the issue of mandatory community service for all students graduating from the University. It was decided that if we chose a “theme” to suggest as a beginning, it would follow to choose a “health” theme as the Committee chair is in a health field, a health theme lends itself to a university-wide effort from all disciplines, and health of all is a democratically-driven topic.

4.  December 8, 2004: Avid debate of the above “possible recommendations” and a discussion of how the Committee could make a theme operational and our recommendations. Members of the Committee suggested that this might take more than one year of community work; they agreed to serve if asked for another year in order to move their ideas forward. It was also decided that we needed to hear from individuals within the University community who would have knowledge about our West Philadelphia, specifically disenfranchised neighbors, their health-related issues and the University’s current ability to address these.

5.  January 12, 2005: (cancelled due to staffing issues)

6.  February 9, 2005: Dr. Bernett Johnson, associate dean for community outreach and diversity, Medical School and Dr. Elijah Anderson,  author of Streetwise and Code of the Street, School of Arts and Sciences, were invited. Dr. Johnson discussed the efforts past and future of the medical school and the health system to address the health and well-being of all West Philadelphians. He stressed the opening of his new office on Community Outreach and Diversity with the goal of coordinating medical efforts in the community. Dr. Anderson discussed the psychosocial and economic issues of the poor, mostly African-American individuals who live in West Philadelphia. He stressed that their lack of protection by the legal system and poor socioeconomic status made worse by the historical loss of industrial jobs has decreased economic opportunities leading to increased levels of violence and despair resulting in a certain “code of the street” which impacts all individuals living in West Philadelphia including the Penn community. A discussion ensued with the Committee members and presenters regarding possible steps that Penn could take to “help our neighbors” improve their well-being: maximizing educational opportunities and providing mentoring experiences were the top ideas discussed.

7.  March 16, 2005: Ira Harkavy from Center for Community Partnerships to review the experiences of colleges and universities nationwide who require community service of their students.

8.  April 13, 2005

9.  May 11, 2005 (last meeting for this academic year)

Action Items:

1.  Continue to explore, pursue and develop the ideas of:

a.  Establishing an annual or biennial “Community” theme and challenging all members of the University community to collaboratively weave new research, education and service efforts into, around and through this theme.

b.  Mandatory community/public service for all students who graduate from the University.

2.  Discuss ways to make operational our suggestion of a university-wide community theme.

3.  Explore the determinants of health of our neighbors as well as the knowledge and resources already available within the University and West Philadelphia community. 

Recommendations to the University Council:

We would like to recommend that the University Council begin to explore and discuss the topics of:

1.  A presidential, university-wide call to rally research, teaching and service around a “community theme.”

a.   We further recommend that we start with the theme of improving the health and well-being of our neighbors.

b.   We suggest that the first theme be further delineated to the challenge of “increasing access to health and health care” for all members of our neighborhood.

2.  Mandatory community/public service for all students graduating from the University.

Recommendation of topics to be addressed in the coming year:

1.  Continue to explore, pursue and develop the ideas of:

c.  Establishing an annual or biennial “Community” theme and challenging all members of the University community to collaboratively weave new research, education and service efforts into, around and through this theme.

d.  Exploring the issue of mandatory community/public service for all students who graduate from the University.

2.  Discuss ways to make operational our suggestion of a university-wide community theme.

3.  Explore the determinants of health of our neighbors as well as the knowledge and resources already available within the University and West Philadelphia community (vis-à-vis the determinants of health).

2004-2005 Committee Members

Chair: Judith Fisher (family practice and community medicine); Faculty: Clay Armstrong (physiology); Judith Fisher (family practice and community medicine); Aravind Joshi (CIS); Anne Kringel (law); Yvonne Paterson (microbiology); Erle Robertson (microbiology); David Wilson (biochemistry and biophysics); Graduate students: David Ryan DeHoney (law); Damien Wilson (Wharton); Undergraduate students: Emma Cermak (COL ’05); Neha Sachdev (COL ’05); PPSA: Rosemary Barber (medicine); Zelice Brown-Roache (center for urban health research), Heather Calvert (SS Heubner Foundation IRM); Conley Heaberlin (clinical research computing unit); WPSA: Cassie Bartelme (Civic House), Sylvie Beauvais (health care systems); Ex-Officio: Valerie Allen (African-American Resource Center); Glenn Bryan (city and community relations), David Grossman (Civic House), Ira Harkavy (Center for Community Partnerships).

 

 



 
  Almanac, Vol. 51, No. 24, March 15, 2005

ISSUE HIGHLIGHTS:

Tuesday,
March 15, 2005
Volume 51 Number 24
www.upenn.edu/almanac

 

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