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SENATE: From the Senate Chair
April 22, 2008, Volume 54, No. 30

The following is published in accordance with the Faculty Senate Rules. Among other purposes, the publication of SEC actions is intended to stimulate
discussion among the constituencies and their representatives. Please communicate your comments to Sue White, executive assistant to the Senate Office, either by telephone at (215) 898-6943, or by e-mail at senate@pobox.upenn.edu.

Faculty Senate Executive Committee Actions
Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Chair’s Report. Faculty Senate Chair Larry Gladney reported that the Senate Committees will be presenting their final reports at the May SEC meeting.  Dr. Gladney updated SEC on the work of the Senate Committees:  the Senate Committee on Faculty and the Academic Mission (SCOF) will be examining “who is teaching our students?;” the Senate Committee on Faculty Development, Diversity, and Equity (SCFDDE) has completed a study of all schools’ mentoring programs and best practices and will be looking at the Minority Equity Report; the Senate Committee on Students and Educational Policy (SCSEP) is completing their final report on graduate tuition reform; and the Senate Committee on Faculty and the Administration (SCOA) has wrapped up examination of the procedures for appointment of School Deans. 

President’s Update for the Faculty Senate.  President Amy Gutmann discussed local and national engagement with the Faculty Senate Executive Committee, highlighting the University of Pennsylvania’s achievements and challenges for the future.  President Gutmann led a discussion on an overview of local engagement topics including:  Penn’s leadership role regarding sustainability, academic and financial partnership with the Penn Alexander School, status of plans for a magnet high school in West Philadelphia, accomplishments of the Netter Center for Community Partnerships, and enthusiasm looking forward to future collaborations with Mayor Michael Nutter.  President Gutmann also led a discussion on national engagement topics including: Penn student volunteers who helped with recovery in New Orleans during spring break; the recent increase in Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services of the University’s debt rating to AA+ from AA; the challenges and strategies for positioning Penn to capitalize on all available research funding; and the new innovative financial aid program.  President Gutmann also thanked the Senate leadership, and in particular Faculty Senate Past-Chair Neville Strumpf for her encore performance this year.

Committee on Committees Ballot.  All Faculty Senate members voted on a ballot of names for specific 2008-2009 committees, as proposed by the 2008 Committee on Committees.

Discussion on Political Engagement.  Assistant Professor Matthew Hartley and Professor Henry Teune led a discussion on the history and current climate of political engagement at American colleges and universities, with particular emphasis on Penn.  Assistant Professor Hartley noted that universities have deep civic roots; however there is evidence that since the 1960s, students have become politically disengaged.  In the past decade there has been a movement aimed at revitalizing civic engagement.  Professor Teune highlighted his work with the Council of Europe to advance the contributions of higher education to democracy on college and university campuses.  Professor Teune also reported that Penn is a leader for civic engagement, with numerous volunteer activities.  SEC members had a robust discussion on the question; “to what extent are we responsible to this democracy?” noting the difference between civic engagement, which is strong, as opposed to political engagement and activism, which should be fostered on college campuses.

Almanac - April 22, 2008, Volume 54, No. 30