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November 21, 2006, Volume 53, No. 13

November Council Meeting

At the November 15 University Council meeting, Associate Provost Andy Binns described Interdisciplinary Education at Penn. He noted that there are many students involved: 1440 of Penn students are in a  dual/joint degree or a certificate program (970 are undergrads and 470 are graduate/professional students).  Of the 2142 majors completed in the College last year 676 were interdisciplinary. More than half of Penn’s faculty are in more than one graduate group. There are around 150 interdisciplinary centers and institutes. Dr. Binns acknowledged that there are sometimes impediments that can obscure opportunities and that responsibility center management can create financial incentives to discourage crossing disciplines. However, he said that the Senate Committee on Students and Educational Policy will be looking at such issues this year in order to develop initiatives to overcome the challenges. President Amy Gutmann added that virtually every school has interdisciplinary aspects that make them more attractive because they cross boundaries. Provost Ron Daniels added that the Graduate Deans addressed this topic last year in a report that may provide some clarity going forward. The President called Interdisciplinary Education an “important theme” especially when it means bringing together things that have an advantage to surmount barriers by “integrating knowledge.”

Dr. Evelyn Wiener, director of Student Health, led a discussion of Student Health Services at Penn, which is one of only 27 accredited student health centers in the U.S. from among the 1,500 centers at colleges and universities. Penn’s Student Health, which reports to the VPUL  and has a clinical affiliation with UPHS,  provides clinical care such as primary care and sports medicine, women’s health, nursing, nutrition and podiatry; and non-clinical services such as oversight for public health of students, clinical teaching and mentoring. Dr. Wiener said that more than 250 students go to Student Health per day; appointments may be scheduled in advance or for the same day. Student Health is open Monday through Saturday; after hours a provider is on call and emergency care is available at the HUP ER. Dr. Val Cade McCoullum, VPUL, thanked the Provost for the funding that had been provided for renovation of the Student Health facility that is in Penn Tower. Dr. Wiener noted that for 18-25 year olds, the majority of preventative care pertains to healthy behaviors: avoid smoking and drinking, get exercise, wear a bike helmet, use sunscreen and get a flu shot.

—Ronald J. Daniels, Provost

No Council Meeting in December

To the Penn Community,

Due to the final examinations schedule, the Steering Committee has canceled the Wednesday, December 20, 2006, Council meeting. The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, January 31, 2007, 4-6 p.m. in Bodek Lounge, Houston Hall.

For your information, the following is a tentative timeline for discussion of the issues identified as focus issues for Council this year:

• International issuesJanuary 17
• Campus Development Plan update– February 14
• General public health discussion–either February 14 or March 14.

—Leslie Laird Kruhly,
Secretary of University Council

Almanac - November 21, 2006, Volume 53, No. 13