Good afternoon. President Gutmann has outlined our ambitious goals for beginning to realize the full promise of the Penn Compact. In my report today, I am going to focus in more detail on three initiatives that are receiving considerable attention this year in the Provost’s office. Each is designed to advance the University’s academic mission: faculty recruitment and retention, PIK recruitment, and internationalization.
First, faculty recruitment and retention:
An outstanding faculty stands at the core of so many of our aspirations: research, teaching, diversity, and community engagement. One of our highest priorities is ensuring that the University remains capable of attracting and retaining the very best faculty members. We must, of course, be able to offer financial arrangements for colleagues that are competitive with our national and international peer group.
However, finances alone are not the only factor in recruiting great faculty. We must endeavor to maintain and, indeed, to enhance the strength and dynamism of our intellectual environment so that colleagues, despite having opportunities to join other great universities, cannot imagine being anywhere other than Penn for their entire careers. They must continue to regard Penn as simply the best place to fulfill their professional aspirations, to do cutting edge research, and to teach, learn from, and be challenged by outstanding students.
Through our faculty recruitment decisions, we are shaping the University of the future. Each appointment is invaluable, so the process of selection must command our highest institutional attention and energy. In each of the last two years, we have hired 157 new colleagues. Ensuring, in the future, that each and every one of these appointments fulfills our highest standards and aspirations is therefore critical.
We have a remarkable opportunity then in making these new appointments. Our hiring today affords us the opportunity to promote new and emerging areas of intellectual inquiry by hiring those colleagues who are dedicated to advancing knowledge in those areas. This hiring, of course, will also allow us to build a more diverse professorate that draws upon the transformation of our student body and of student bodies across the great research intensive universities in terms of the increasing representation in those student bodies of women and minorities. However, to develop such a dynamic and diverse faculty, we must look beyond the recruitment of great faculty, to their retention throughout their entire careers. The challenge of setting up our colleagues for success falls to all of us. In following the lead of several of our schools, we need to ensure that every junior colleague is afforded the full benefit of formal mentorship.
These, of course, are somewhatlofty–may be a little bit amorphous– aspirations but, it is the responsibility of the administration in concert with the Deans to ensure that these goals are rendered concrete and reflected in practice throughout the University. And in this respect, I am fortunate to have very, very capable help in this endeavor from a number of different people, but here today I am pleased particularly to announce that following consultation with a special advisory committee, chaired by Professor Vince Price thatAssociate Provost Janice Bellace will be taking on the responsibilities of Deputy Provost. During her two years as Associate Provost, Janice has taken an active role in faculty-related matters, and she will continue to perform many of these functions as she takes on additional responsibilities in a number of different areas particularly undergraduate and graduate education. I would now like to call on Deputy Provost Janice Bellace to discuss several concrete initiatives being sponsored by the Provost’s office this year.
Janice Bellace, Deputy Provost
We are about to initiate an academic personnel policy review process with the Council of Deans. In the first phase of this process, we will be reviewing best practices among the schools at Penn, as well as benchmarking of our peer institutions. On the basis of the information gleaned from this review, we aim to streamline our hiring and promotion processes, making it easier for departments to attract and retain top scholars. We know that to recruit and then retain top faculty members, we need to both support scholars’ careers and to respect work/life balance.
The review process will point to actions we can take to improve the mentoring of junior faculty members and to better support research. We will also consider issues that affect faculty during the career lifecycle, such as promotion and retirement. The review will also produce recommendations on how we can cast the net most widely and how we can better identify candidates for faculty positions.
In attracting top faculty to Penn, we should always bear in mind that world-class scholars are also people, individuals with families and social lives. The City of Philadelphia has become a very positive aspect of our recruitment process. We also need to consider ways to focus on those elements of campus life that create a desirable overall environment conducive to the social and recreational aspects of the lives of faculty members and their families.
One important area to consider is work/life balance; that is, the competing demands of parenthood and an academic career. Simply put, these demands should not create irreconcilable conflict. Being a productive faculty member at Penn should be compatible with being an involved parent. We need to consider the best ways to organize our faculty policies so that new parents can have time with their children. We have already begun considering revisions to these policies with regard to relief from teaching and extension of the probationary period at times when parents are particularly engaged with parental duties, such as when a new child comes into the home. We will also examine child care support here at Penn and best practices at other institutions.
If we are going to recruit and then retain the best scholars, we must create an environment that is inviting to all members of our faculty. The Minority Equity Committee recently released a thorough and well-researched report that cited some areas where we have seen substantial improvement and highlighted other areas where we now need to redouble our energies in order to create and sustain a diverse and equitable environment.
We are giving a great deal of thought to the best ways to improve in these areas. Shortly, we will issue a response to the report outlining concrete steps the University will take towards an improved and more equitable environment. Among other steps, we know that we need to improve leadership opportunities for minority faculty and to create more consistent and complete administrative information across the schools to assess equity. We are also considering how to make more effective the actual implementation of our policies designed to further gender equity.
The important thing to remember is that creating a more welcoming environment for women and for racial and ethnic minorities improves the campus climate for everyone. Moreover, it benefits the intellectual climate of the entire University, because it encourages outstanding scholars and students to choose to become and remain a part of the Penn community.
Provost Ron Daniels
I would now like to discuss a second initiative: the President’s PIK program.
It is, of course, easy to espouse the value of interdisciplinary, but it is considerably more difficult to determine how we should translate this into concrete action and institutional arrangements. PIK–or Penn Integrates Knowledge–is a very concrete initiative that is designed to support interdisciplinary activity. This is both a top down and a bottom up initiative. The President challenged the schools to identify the very best colleagues from across the nation and beyond whom we can recruit to Pennand who can strengthen our schools, while bolstering interdisciplinary programs. Each colleague recruited under this program will have joint appointments at two or more schools. The premise of this program is simple, and that is to have meaningful, interdisciplinary programs, we must have colleagues whose intellectual and teaching interests straddle different schools in the University and whose activities anchor research and teaching programs that goes across the University. This isn’t the only way to get across interdisciplinary activity, but it’s a very important foundation for it.
A number of faculty members answered this challenge and nominated colleagues, whose nominations were then vetted by the deans. Finally, the President and I have selected a small number of colleagues for recruitment. Now, with our support, the deans are working on attracting these scholars to Penn. There has been widespread excitement and support for this endeavor, with initial involvement from ten of Penn’s 12 schools. This level of engagement has provided us with many outstanding candidates spanning such diverse programs as Psychology and Information Management, Education and Business and Public Policy, and Chemistry and Material Science. We are busy pursuing these leads, and we expect to commence making appointments by the spring of this academic year.
A third initiative concerns international engagement. As measured in a number of different dimensions—international students, faculty, and staff; research collaborations; and innovative student programs and placements—we are a very international institution. However, we are anxious to enhance our international character.
As President Gutmann indicated, our principal undertaking is the Task Force on Global Engagement, which is comprised of undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and staff, who are mandated to identify two or three innovative initiatives that will enhance our international identity. I want to stress that this is not a grand, comprehensive strategic plan, but rather an initiative designed to complement our existing activities with a few creative initiatives that will engage faculty, students and alumni. There is considerable interest in this Task Force’s deliberations, and the President and I look forward to receiving the group’s report by the calendar year end, so that we can work on implementing its recommendations for the next academic year.
The Task Force is not the only new international initiative, however, being sponsored by the University. JoAnn McCarthy is the new Assistant Provost for International Affairs, heading the Office of International Programs. JoAnn brings new energy and imagination to her role. Today, she will discuss two specific initiatives within her office–improved student and faculty services and enhanced visibility and support for internationalization.
JoAnn McCarthy, Assistant Provost for International Affairs
Following a thorough internal assessment and external review process, the Office of International Programs has been working to improve our services to students and faculty. In order to streamline and improve our processes, we have assessed and realigned job descriptions and reporting lines; created an on-line appointment system; implemented a new staffing plan; and installed a new telephone system to improve international student and scholar services. To make our office more effective, we have identified and are now implementing a new software package to streamline the study abroad application process, course information, program management, and budgeting.
There has been much progress in increasing support for internationalization. First, I would like to report that the Office of International Programs has developed a new International Interdisciplinary Speaker Series (IISS) to bring outstanding scholars to the Penn campus to present current research and engage Penn faculty and students in discussions on topics of global importance.
Communication is central to our international efforts, so we have identified liaison staff in all schools for the solicitation and dissemination of information on activities, events, funding opportunities, and potential partnerships as they relate to global affairs. We are also creating new communication networks to inform the campus and broader community of existing programs, events, research, and service activities in order to expand participation across departments, schools, and other related units and promote Penn’s extraordinary level of international engagement. These networks include the International Calendar of Events; the new International Affairs @ Penn web portal to all international programs, centers, institutes, and activities at Penn; and the new international newsletter to keep the campus community informed of the depth and breadth of Penn’s international engagement. In addition, we are creating a searchable database of faculty research and experience in order to engage knowledgeable faculty members on topics of global importance.
We have also been looking for ways to make it more clear to our international students how much we value them. To this end, we have reconfigured the International Student Welcome Reception and the International Student Graduation Reception; instituted a new weekend excursion program; and coordinated efforts with the Greenfield Intercultural Center on joint programming for international and domestic students.
While it is important to increase the international engagement on campus, we have to remember that the Penn community goes beyond students, faculty, and staff. We are creating a plan for the substantive engagement of our international alumni constituency in Penn’s international efforts. These alumni can serve as valuable resources in our internationalization efforts.
I am tremendously proud to report that we are engaging all of Penn’s constituencies in enhancing our international focus and increasing our global profile.
Provost Ron Daniels
I would like to close by noting that, although this is an ambitious agenda, we are quite excited about what we can do together in the service of advancing our community. Our optimism stems from our confidence that the Penn community, with its myriad strengths and depth of intellectual resources, is capable of magnificent accomplishments. I am personally delighted to have joined such a remarkable and talented group of people.