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November 22, 2011, Volume 58, 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 email at senate@pobox.upenn.edu\

Faculty Senate Executive Committee Actions

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Chair’s Report. Chair-Elect Susan Margulies reported that she will be the acting chair for this meeting due to Chair Camille Charles’ absence. Dr. Margulies stated that the Faculty Climate Survey will be going out to all Penn faculty November 17 and strongly urged SEC members to participate and encourage their colleagues to participate. Dr. Margulies reported that the Senate Committee on the Economic Status of the Faculty has the 2010-2011 faculty economic data and will be meeting November 22 to start work on their report. She reminded SEC members to forward faculty names for committees that Senior Vice Provost Steve Fluharty is populating for the following: Conflict of Interest, human subject research, animal research, effort reporting, financial reporting, select agents and toxins, export controls, IT systems, and training.

Past Chair’s Report. Past Chair Bob Hornik reported that the Academic Planning & Budget Committee discussed issues and policy around funding the central costs for supporting the University’s research infrastructure.

University Response to the Economic Climate. Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli gave SEC a brief overview of the 30-month cost containment initiative that saved the University $100.7 million starting in December 2009. He outlined how this was achieved by reducing Penn’s expenses for resources, supplies, capital improvements, and salaries. He explained that leveraging Penn’s purchasing power is an important ongoing improvement. He reported that Facilities is in the process of installing new meters in buildings to monitor energy usage in an effort to reduce consumption costs. He explained that Information Systems and Computing (ISC) is considering ways to consolidate IT systems such as email and telecommunications systems. Mr. Carnaroli reported that the cost containment phase ended this past June; however the University is still very cautious about increasing expenditures. 

SEC discussion included the following concerns: cost containment measures that have presented hurdles for using unrestricted grant funds, lag time for travel reimbursements particularly for travel overseas, difficulty of getting reimbursement for goods and services bought outside the Penn purchasing system, facilities that are inefficient and in disrepair, and low levels of knowledge among many faculty about central resources to support their research including their ability to view grant statements online. 

EVP Carnaroli welcomed the opportunity to sit down with a subset of SEC members to work on suggestions for reducing administrative burdens and for better ways to communicate effectively with faculty.  

Discussion on the Academic Calendar. Vice Provost Andy Binns updated SEC on the status of the proposed changes to the academic calendar. He reported that there have been many alternative proposals that have generated intense discussion. He explained several top proposals in detail and the reasons why they cannot be implemented. He promised to send SEC members the links to the state curricular credit policy. He indicated that Provost Price would make a final decision on these changes soon.

Formulation of questions for the December SEC meeting presentations. Dr. Margulies encouraged SEC members to forward their questions for the December SEC meeting that will feature President Amy Gutmann and Vice Provost Andy Binns. Dr. Margulies noted that Dr. Binns will be talking about the upcoming Middle States Accreditation. 

Ballots for the 2011-2012 Nominating Committee Chair. SEC members voted for the Chair.

Follow up on the presentation of the Penn Action Plan for Faculty Diversity and Excellence.SEC members had a robust discussion on how their schools are engaging with faculty to draft their school plans. SEC members reported that schools appeared to vary in how much faculty were involved in the process. Dr. Margulies noted that the Tri-Chairs are working for a way to have the 12 schools collaborate and get faculty advice before their plans are finalized.  

Almanac - November 22, 2011, Volume 58, No. 13