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December 22, 2009, Volume 56, No. 16

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, December 16, 2009

Chair’s Report. Faculty Senate Chair Harvey Rubin reported that the Faculty Senate Founder’s Day Symposium, Forbidden Knowledge: Art, Science, and Censorship will be held on January 15, 3-5 p.m. in the School of Nursing, Claire M. Fagin Hall. He noted that this event will highlight the faculty and be moderated by Provost Vincent Price. He encouraged SEC members to come and to tell their students about the event.  Dr. Rubin acknowledged the passing of colleague C. Edwin Baker.

Discussion and vote of School of Law Proposal: to increase the cap on “Senior Lecturers” in the School’s legal writing program. Senate Committee on Faculty and the Academic Mission (SCOF) Chair Reed Pyeritz presented the SCOF recommendation to endorse the School of Law proposal. Dr. Pyeritz explained that SCOF reviewed the proposal and found the rationale for the changes adequate and justified. Dean Mike Fitts explained the background of the request, the terms of the position, and importance of the legal writing program. 

SEC members voted unanimously to approve the School of Law Proposal and the Faculty Handbook Section II.B.4 Senior Lecturer in the Law School language changes recommended by SCOF.

Trajectory of the Faculty Discussion.  Faculty Senate Chair Harvey Rubin introduced the panel of faculty invited to join and help lead the conversation on the trajectory of the faculty:  Stephanie Abbuhl, associate professor and vice chair of emergency medicine; Larry Gladney, chair and professor of physics and astronomy, and Mitchell Marcus, RCA Professor of Artificial Intelligence, Computer and Information Science. SEC members, the panelists, and invited guests had a robust discussion about the following topics:

− Recruitment of faculty who will be able to handle rising expectations without forgoing hires who may be more risky.  What are the implications of not taking risks? Are we forgoing diversity of thought?  SEC members noted that diversity is important and very beneficial in the long run to bring different points of view. 

− Importance of Mentoring:  taking mentoring seriously, taking time to be a mentor, providing training on how to mentor, encouraging junior faculty to have both informal and formal mentoring as a dynamic interaction, adding mentorship for mid-career faculty, and the importance of having at least one mentor in place to track the junior faculty member’s achievement. 

− Mid Career Changes: How do we help mid-career faculty and guide them?  Are faculty members able to re-direct their research and identify opportunities to launch a new initiative after getting tenure?  Sabbatical can be an opportunity to explore other areas of research. Are faculty members using sabbaticals as well as they can?  SEC members noted that mid-career hires don’t have a system to integrate them to Penn. 

− Other issues that were discussed include:  women falling off the tenure track, women and minority faculty having less access to resources, the difficulty of disseminating information on promotion criteria, the implications of Penn’s system of bringing in outside faculty “stars,” and concerns of support for LGBT faculty.

SEC members discussed the following possible solutions: flexible policies concerning the tenure clock that are equitable allowing faculty to work part-time for a period and then re-enter as full-time, flexible policies for sabbatical use, and changing the recruitment atmosphere so there is more risk taking.


Almanac - December 22, 2009, Volume 56, No. 16