University Council Coverage
December 6, 2011,
Volume 58, No. 14
At last Wednesday’s Council meeting, President Amy Gutmann asked for a moment of silence in memory of the two recent “tragic losses in the Penn family,” one student, Jeffrey Lee, who was nearing graduation and another, Annie Zhu, who had just recently begun her Penn education.
The meeting then focused on a discussion on how Penn works with government on all levels, followed by the Open Forum.
Vice President of Government and Community Affairs Jeffrey Cooper gave the presentation and introduced several of his staff members who deal with the various levels of government. Mr. Cooper explained what his office does.
• The Office of Government and Community Affairs (OGCA) positions Penn stakeholders for action by analyzing legislative trends, building a consensus on a University stance, overseeing a unified response to policy changes, recommending a course of action and coordinating advocacy efforts.
• To advance Penn’s educational mission, OGCA represents Penn’s strategic interests such as advocating scientific research and higher education policy, identifying legislative and regulatory developments. They support research and innovation on Capitol Hill and maintain Commonwealth support by emphasizing the impacts of Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine and other programs like Nursing’s LIFE program.
• To support service and access, they protect student financial aid (Pell grants, supplemental educational opportunity grants, federally funded student loans, and TRIO programs).
• On the local level, they strengthen community engagement by cultivating relationships with the School District, neighboring institutions and community organizations as well as enhancing Penn’s service learning initiatives.
• OGCA leverages Penn’s institutional capacity to support Penn’s interest as a business leader; they communicate the economic impact of Penn (the second largest private employer in the Commonwealth and the largest one in the City). Penn is active in organizations such as the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and the Regional Council of College and University Presidents. Penn collaborates with the City on such issues as legislation, taxes, zoning, curfews and diversity.
• Civic engagement includes promoting learning and understanding of political issues, organizing non-partisan activities, voter registration, election day operations and complying with the national Constitution Day mandate.
The Open Forum consisted of six topics; after each was raised there was a response. The topics and their presenters were:
1. Request for the cessation of the University’s involvement in the use of non-human primates in research and concerns regarding our transparency in this area; Dr. Marta Guttenberg, adjunct assistant professor, pathology and laboratory medicine.
2. Concerns regarding the coverage gap between short-term and long-term disability for those suffering from a serious medical condition; Candice Cozart, administrative coordinator, Office of Nursing Research.
3. Questions on the inclusion of transgender health benefits for staff and faculty in University health plans; Dawn Munro, research project manager, pathobiology, Veterinary Medicine.
4. Reviewing Penn’s tobacco policy with an eye towards a smoke or tobacco-free campus; Dan Bernick, SAS’14.
5. Concerns about PNC Bank’s practice of financing Mountaintop Removal and advocates that the University move to address business relationships and open financial information as a part of its dedication to sustainability and the Climate Action Plan; Russell Trimmer, W’12.
6. Concerns regarding the lack of public speaking resources at the University and request for the inclusion of public speaking within the College curriculum; Jonathan Fried, C’14.