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Welcome Back From the Senate Chair
September 8, 2009, Volume 56, No. 02


Benjamin Franklin’s institution of higher learning, the Publick Academy of Philadelphia, later to become the University of Pennsylvania opened its doors in the former Whitefield building at Fourth and Arch Streets in 1751. There could be no Welcome Back article from the chair of Faculty Senate for another 201 years; it was not until January 1952 that the Faculty Senate, essentially as we know it now, was established by the Board of Trustees of the University. 

So, in keeping with a relatively recent tradition, welcome back. The idea for a University Faculty Senate originated in 1950 by a band of ten faculty members. 1950—ah the good old days, it was the year of the first organ transplant (a kidney), the comic strip Peanuts was born, George Bernard Shaw died, the junior senator from Wisconsin had in his hand a list of communists in the State Department and the Phillies won their first National League pennant in 35 years only to be crushed by the Yankees in 4 games in the World Series. 

The 1950 letter from Professor Clarence N. Callender inviting members of the faculty to discuss the formation of the Senate states, “It is not contemplated that the University group, if formed, would undertake extensive activities, more likely it would be a forum for occasional use to discuss important issues only. Examples of matters which might be regarded as suitable for its consideration are the following: academic freedom, important educational policies, municipal scandals, constitutional revisions, city charter, social security, national and international issues.” 

Well, those apparently genteel days are long gone. Far from an occasional forum, I am happy to report that the Faculty Senate, which is comprised of all standing faculty in the University, is vibrant, robust and more engaged than ever in the shared governance of the University.  The day-to-day work of the Senate is generally carried out by the Senate Executive Committee and a Committee on Committees, a Nominating Committee, Senate Committee on Academic Freedom & Responsibility, Senate Committee on the Economic Status of the Faculty and five standing committees: The Committee on Faculty and the Administration, The Committee on the Faculty and the Academic Mission, The Committee on Students and Educational Policy, The Committee on Publication Policy for Almanac, The Senate Committee on Faculty Development, Diversity and Equity. Rather than list all the issues that the Senate analyzed and comment on the recommendations that were proffered, please go to www.upenn.edu/faculty_senate/index.html to find out all the details of the Senate, the charges to this year’s committees, members of each committee and the committee reports.

Last year’s Senate Faculty Chair, Professor Sherri Adams now assumes the role of Past Chair and Professor Robert Hornik is Chair-elect of the Senate. We are delighted that they will guide the Senate with the wisdom and deep and creative insights that they have acquired over the years. We also greatly appreciate the magnificent job that Sue White does as the Executive Assistant to the Senate.

This spring, one of our own, Professor Vincent Price, was appointed 29th Provost of the University.  Vince served as Chair of the Faculty Senate in 2006-2007 and he brings to the Provost position a profound commitment to faculty values. The Chair, Past Chair and Chair–elect of the Senate meet regularly with President and Provost throughout the year in consultation and we look forward to working closely with President Gutmann and Provost Price. 

The Senate will be an effective voice of the faculty only if the faculty actively participates. In that spirit please contact me (rubinh@mail.med.upenn.edu) or Sue White, senate@pobox.upenn.edu (215) 898-6943, with any suggestions. 

Harvey Rubin

—Harvey Rubin

The revised Economic Status of the Faculty 2007-2008 report, was published in Almanac in July; see www.upenn.edu/almanac/volumes/v56/n01/contents.html.

Save The Date:
The Faculty Senate will meet on October 21, 2009, from 3 to 5 p.m. in Room 205 College Hall.
A reception will follow the meeting at 5 p.m., at the Arthur Ross Gallery.
All Senate members are invited to attend the meeting and reception, but are asked to RSVP
not later than October 7, 2009 to Susan White, Executive Assistant to the Faculty Senate.
E-mail: senate@pobox.upenn.edu. Phone: (215) 898-6943.

Almanac - September 8, 2009, Volume 56, No. 02