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November 23, 2010, Volume 57, No. 13

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, November 17, 2010

Chair’s Report:  Faculty Senate Chair Bob Hornik reported that the Senate Committee on Faculty and the Academic Mission (SCOF) now has three new members. He explained that the Faculty Senate Tri-Chairs recently met with the “5B” student group to discuss their ideas for increasing faculty diversity. He noted that the Minority Equity Report is due for publication next month. He announced that at the December meeting, SEC will be asked to nominate faculty members for the newly revised Patent Policy Appeals Board and SEC member Jonathan Smith offered to be a candidate for the Appeals Board. Dr. Hornik reported that the Faculty Senate Tri-Chairs have been in consultation with Vice Provost for Faculty Lynn Lees to improve the Faculty Income Allowance Plan (FIAP) template letters which are being revised to clarify FIAP procedures.

Past Chair’s Report: Faculty Senate Past-Chair Harvey Rubin reported that the Academic Planning and Budget Committee had a robust discussion on the draft Minority Equity Report and the work of the Faculty Advisory Council for Access and Academic Support Initiatives.  

Ballots for the 2010-2011 Nominating Committee Chair:  SEC members voted for the 2010-2011 Nominating Committee Chair.

Penn’s Research Enterprise Pathways to Discovery: Senior Vice Provost for Research Steve Fluharty updated SEC on Penn’s research enterprise, research compliance, postdoctoral fellowships for academic diversity, and the work of Penn’s Public Access Committee.  He explained that Penn is a tier-one research university and reported that 1 billion dollars in total grants and contracts were awarded in FY2010, which included American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) awards. He stated that Penn has an integrated campus with 160 research centers and multidisciplinary institutes and his office is charged with direct oversight of Penn’s research enterprise. He outlined the major functions of his office including: oversight of the research infrastructure and support of research compliance, oversight and management of intellectual property and tech transfer, identification of strategic research directions, distribution of grants and awards, management of submission of large institutional grants, collaboration with the Office of Government Relations to facilitate state and federal funding, and collaboration with the Office of Development to build corporate and foundation partnerships. Dr. Fluharty reviewed research compliance activity administered by the Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA) noting that Institutional Review Board (IRB) and Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) submissions are moving through the review process much faster. He reviewed use of the Penn Profiler, new requirements for Responsible Conduct of Research, upcoming changes in Research Conflict of Interest, and Penn’s management of Export Control Laws. Dr. Fluharty updated SEC on the progress of the Postdoctoral Fellowship Program which was announced in April 2010. He explained “public access” which is defined as the development of digital online resources that are free of most copyright or licensing restrictions, and reported on a sampling of other institutional responses to this initiative.  He reported that Penn formed a Public Access Committee and outlined specific recommendations from the committee. He noted that the level of demands for accountability were growing, and in particular, that coming new rules around conflict of interest reporting were of great concern, both for the burden they would represent and the risks of violation of privacy associated with the reporting requirements. 

SEC discussion focused on the difficulty navigating the IRB submission process, irrelevant questions on the IRB form for some departments, export control regulations which are difficult to interpret and understand, and the details of the Penn Public Access Committee recommendations.  Members expressed concerns about the ever increasing burden for administration of research, taking faculty away from actually doing research.  Dr. Fluharty recognized this concern and indicated that Penn was engaged with other universities in the effort to convince Congress and NIH of the cost of unfunded mandates for research administration. He indicated that he believed that Penn was doing as much as it could to minimize the burden, but that most of the burden reflected federally imposed requirements.


Almanac - November 23, 2010, Volume 57, No. 13