This is the twenty-seventh annual report of the Steering Committee of University Council, prepared in accordance with a requirement in the Council Bylaws that the Steering Committee publish an annual report to the University community that reviews the previous year’s Council deliberations and highlights “both significant discussions and the formal votes taken on matters of substance.”
Annual Report of the Steering Committee for University Council 2004-2005
The 2003-2004 Committees on Personnel Benefits, Quality of Student Life, and Libraries presented their final reports.
In accordance with the bylaws, Council called for the selection and ranking of focus issues for the 2004-2005 academic year. Council Steering Committee Chair Charles Mooney, Jr. reminded members of the three issues raised at the last meeting of the previous academic year:
• for Council to play a more active role in helping to promote the University’s role in Philadelphia and the community;
• to promote the use of Council’s Open Forum, which is available at the end of each meeting;
• for making Penn a more friendly environment for transgender individuals.
He noted that, in addition, at the first Steering meeting of the year, two additional issues were identified:
• to explore ways students could be encouraged to interact outside their schools to expand their academic experience, and
• to continue to focus on efforts to revitalize Council.
In addition, Professor Mooney reported that the Faculty Senate tri-chairs had been discussing a number of possible ways to make the business of Council and its committees more efficient, which they would be discussing with Steering, and eventually with Council.
It also was suggested that the University should examine how it has incorporated gender identity into the non-discrimination policy. Another focus item identified was ensuring the “transparency” of Council.
Council adopted all of the focus issues and agreed to rank them all equally.
Vice President for Government, Community, and Public Affairs Carol Scheman, Vice Provost for University Life Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum, undergraduate students Farrah Freis and Jason Oberman, GAPSA representative Kevin Jude, and UA Chair Jason Levine reported on voter registration activities across campus.
The 2003-2004 Committee on Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics presented its final report.
In accordance with the bylaws, the president, the provost and other administrators presented extended reports covering the State of the University.
President Amy Gutmann’s presentation of the State of the University focused on civic engagement, the West Philadelphia Community, campus development, the University’s financial base, and the Penn Compact. She then asked Senior Vice President for Facilities and Real Estate Services Omar Blaik, Executive Vice President (EVP) Craig Carnaroli, and Interim Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Medha Narvekar to report on their individual areas. Mr. Blaik’s presentation focused on facilities and real estate projects and capital projects. Mr. Carnaroli’s presentation focused on the University’s financial perspective and the accomplishments of the EVP Office in 2004. Ms. Narvekar’s presentation focused on private philanthropy at Penn.
Interim Provost Peter Conn’s presentation of the State of the University focused on faculty honors, the Provost’s awards for faculty, diversity initiatives, student honors, civic engagement, and the Weingarten Learning Resources Center. He then asked Vice Provost and Director of Libraries H. Carton Rogers and Vice Provost for Strategic Initiatives Leslie Hudson to present on their individual areas. Mr. Rogers’ presentation focused on circulation statistics and digital resources at the libraries. Dr. Hudson’s presentation focused on technology transfer, corporate research and development relationships, and the University City Keystone Innovation Zone (KIZ).
During the monthly Open Forum, the lecturer representative on Council asked Council to consider the reliability and validity of students’ evaluation of instructors, which was suggested to be overly subjective. Since departments put such an emphasis on course evaluation results in their consideration of rehiring instructors, it was proposed that additional methods of evaluation be used, and other (i.e. perhaps more objective) means be instituted in order to evaluate instructors fairly. Faculty Senate Chair Charles Mooney, Jr. noted that the 2003-2004 Faculty Senate Committee on Students and Educational Policy Report recommended that there should be increased emphasis on other types of evaluations, i.e. peer evaluations, self-evaluations, etc., and that the Faculty Senate is aware of the issue. It was noted that the Senate Committee on Students and Educational Policy at its next meeting would be discussing these concerns, as well as the broader process of teaching evaluation. It was requested that the Committee also consider graduate teachers, in terms of support and peer evaluation.
Council heard informational reports on public safety from Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush and the new Chief of Police Mark Dorsey, and on privacy from Chief Privacy Officer Lauren Steinfeld.
Council held its annual Open Forum with speakers and discussion on the United States Cultural Analysis Requirement (USCAR) proposal. The speakers were assured their issues would be taken up in the appropriate Council committee in the near future.
Steering agreed to cancel the January Council meeting since there were no items ready for discussion.
Steering agreed to cancel the February Council meeting since there were no items ready for discussion.
In accordance with the bylaws, President Gutmann and Interim Provost Conn presented extended reports on budgets and plans for the next academic year. Ms. Bonnie Gibson, Vice President for Budget and Management Analysis, presented the budget, followed by Professor Philip Nichols, Faculty Director of the College House Program, who presented on the College House System.
Council had a discussion of issues raised by the report of the Committee on Pluralism regarding the United States Cultural Analysis Requirement (USCAR) proposal.
It also had a discussion of issues raised by the report of the Committee on Community Relations regarding a suggested mandatory public service requirement.
Council heard a report on the Gutmann/Conn response to the Ad Hoc Committee on Safety in a Diverse Environment report.
Council voted on a resolution concerning issues raised by the United States Cultural Analysis Requirement proposal discussed at the previous meeting.
During the monthly Open Forum, Council had speakers and discussion on the Diversity Report, student chairs of Council committee(s), and staff representation on the Committee on Honorary Degrees. The speakers were assured their issues would be taken up by the Steering Committee in the near future.
Council discussed proposed Bylaw changes.
In accordance with the bylaws, Council held a preliminary discussion of focus issues to be discussed in the 2005-2006 academic year. Issues raised for Council next year include:
• development of the postal lands
• retirement practices and the “aging of administrators”
• College Houses (i.e. hiring of an administrative house dean assistant for each College House; the need for a greater number of College Houses)
• schedule changes
• Spring Fling
• seats on University Council for post docs
• dual degree experiences
• experiences of graduate students who are parents
• international students
—Leslie Laird Kruhly
Secretary to the Steering Committee
Almanac, Vol. 52, No. 5, September 27, 2005