September 30, 2008
Volume 55, No. 6
Last Wednesday, President Amy Gutmann welcomed Council members to the first meeting of the academic year, appointed Dr. Paul Guyer to once again serve as the moderator and then announced the appointment of Mark Frazier Lloyd as the Parliamentarian for the 18th year.
Mr. Lloyd then provided the following historical summary of how Council came to be the deliberative and inclusive group that it is now:
In April 1963 the University administration and the Faculty Senate jointly agreed to form University Council. The Almanac, then as now, the University’s publication of record, announced the establishment of University Council and summarized its purpose, saying it was “designed to eliminate the present duplication of faculty-administrative committees and to provide a more effective means for the faculty to participate in policy discussions.” University Council as we know it today, however, dates to March 1969, when the faculty and administration voted to amend Council bylaws to provide for student representation. During the course of the 2008-09 academic year, we shall arrive at the 40th anniversary of that decision.
University Council is a deliberative and broadly representative body, which serves an advisory role to the President, Provost, and senior administration of the University. The purpose of University Council is best described in its Bylaws, which state that Council “exists to consider the activities of the University in all its phases, with particular attention to the educational objectives of the University and those matters that affect the common interests of faculty, staff and students.” University Council has fulfilled that role capably, advising no fewer than six University presidents over the past 45 years. Let us commit ourselves to continuing to fulfill that role for the coming year and for the foreseeable future.
Dr. Gutmann said Penn had been ranked a score of ‘A-’ by The Sustainable Endowments Institute’s 2009 College Sustainability Report Card, the highest grade given, one shared with 14 other institutions out of the 300 in their survey. She said that grade was fitting since there is “always more progress to be made.” She noted that Penn has been creating green roofs, doing more recycling and building better buildings that are “kinder to the future.” (See: Penn LEEDS the Way Toward Sustainability)
Dr. Sherrill Adams, chair of Council’s Steering Committee, listed the five focus issues approved at Steering’s September 17 meeting; they are now working to schedule the topics. The first topic on the agenda, with EVP Craig Carnaroli presenting on October 22 is a discussion of campus life issues: affordable housing for graduate students, dining services, retail options and Penn Transit.
Subsequent meetings will include a discussion of diversity issues and initiatives on campus; a dialogue on Penn’s involvement in West Philadelphia and the greater Philadelphia community; an analysis of international issues; and a discussion of metrics used by the University to measure the quality and effectiveness of programs and how the results are communicated to the University community.
The Council Committee Charges for 2008-2009 were recommended by last year’s committee chairs and approved by Steering.
There will be two Open Forums this year, one at the December 10 meeting and the other at the February 18 meeting.