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May 24, 2011, Volume 57, No. 34

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 email at senate@pobox.upenn.edu

Faculty Senate Executive Committee Actions
Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Chair’s Report: Faculty Senate Chair Bob Hornik asked SEC members to vote for the four faculty members who will serve on the University Council Steering Committee. He reported that the Ad Hoc Faculty Climate Survey Review Committee will start their work next week and the Ad Hoc Sabbatical Committee will meet very soon. 

Review and Vote on the Open Access Statement of Principles: SEC members reviewed and unanimously approved the revised Open Access Statement of Principles, which will be published in a subsequent issue of Almanac.

Progress Toward a Diversity Action Plan: Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs, Lynn Lees updated SEC on the broad strokes of what Penn is currently doing to increase faculty diversity, possible strategies for change, and possible new initiatives. She explained that there has been extensive consultation on this topic with many constituencies at Penn and those conversations have provided a clearer sense of perceptions and judgments. She explained that some of the difficulties with faculty diversity that were identified include: insufficient incentives to motivate hiring, institutional resistance, the slow hiring process, dual career and work-life balance problems, insufficient mentoring, and a “concrete ceiling” that blocks minorities interested in leadership. Dr. Lees reviewed programs in place at Penn for recruitment including: the Faculty Opportunity Fund, the Target of Opportunity Funds, and the Dual Career Program. She also reviewed programs in place at Penn for retention and faculty development including: Family Friendly Policies, Mentoring, Penn Fellows, and the FOCUS and Minority Faculty Development Program in the School of Medicine.  She explained that the pipeline programs seem to be working well and the constituencies consulted would like to see the number and scope of these programs increase. 

Dr. Lees explained possible strategies for change that include: more effective communication, strengthening the pipeline, enhanced pool data, and better designed incentives from University resources. She reviewed possible new initiatives such as greater accountability, intensified mentoring, and diversity partnerships with outside institutions.

SEC members suggested the final Diversity Action Plan should send a strong message from the central administration and should feature accountability at multiple levels. SEC discussion focused on strategies to make Penn attractive to prospective faculty when they have multiple offers, ways to encourage undergraduates to pursue an academic career, and the importance of getting a commitment to improve faculty diversity from the Deans, Department Chairs, and the entire Penn community. 

Senate Committee Reports: SEC heard and briefly discussed annual reports given by the chairs of Senate Committees. Senate Committee reports can be found in the May 10 issue of Almanac:  www.upenn.edu/almanac/volumes/v57/n33/pdf_n33/senatereports.pdf. SEC members suggested that a Senate committee next year review the administrative burden of regulatory issues. 

Motion from the Senate Committee on Faculty Development, Diversity, and Equity (SCFDDE): SEC voted unanimously for the following motion: 

That the language describing the Office of the Ombudsman as a resource to faculty in regard to sexual harassment be updated to reflect current practice that is similar to that of our peer universities and that a set of written procedures be developed to provide for consistency in the work of the Office.

New Business: Faculty Senate Chair Bob Hornik thanked the following: the Senate Committee Chairs, out-going SEC members, Executive Assistant Sue White for her extraordinary management of SEC and Committee work and Past-Chair Harvey Rubin for his service and excellent advice. As his last order of business, Dr. Hornik turned the meeting over to the new Senate Chair, Camille Charles and welcomed the incoming Chair-Elect, Susan Margulies.

Almanac - May 24, 2011, Volume 57, No. 34