|February Council Meeting Coverage
February 26, 2013,
Volume 59, No. 23
Last Wednesday’s Council meeting began with two PIK Professors talking about their respective research that often involves undergraduates. These PIK faculty exemplify the integration of knowledge across disciplines, or, as President Amy Gutmann described the PIK Professors, “14 stars in a faculty firmament.”
Dr. Adrian Raine, Richard Perry University Professor, discussed his research revolving around biosocial criminology and the causes of white collar crime, both social and biological. He said that he has involved about 100 undergraduate students in basic science research opportunities.
Dr. Christopher Murray, Richard Perry University Professor, focused his remarks on chemistry and materials science that he uses to build artificial atoms. He too involves students in the nanoscale science and engineering projects to improve existing technology and make new phases of matter. This work will soon be done in the new Singh Center once it opens.
Then, the next hour and a half was devoted to the Open Forum which had more topics submitted than there have been at any of the prior Open Forums during the past several years. Ten topics were raised; mostly by undergraduate, graduate and professional students, along with a professor and a lecturer.
The first topic was raised by a faculty member who, although his son won the lottery for admission to Penn Alexander School, is concerned about Penn’s commitment to the Penn faculty, staff, students and alumni who live in the Penn Alexander School’s catchment area. Not only did this hot topic get discussed at the meeting, but there were protesters outside the building who were chanting to call attention to “10 more seats.” Although the Penn Alexander School is subsidized by Penn, it is part of the Philadelphia School District. The new superintendent suddenly instituted the lottery after some parents had already lined up recently to secure a space for their children for next fall’s kindergarten.
The next topic involved partnering with other local schools, such as the Lea School. A veterinary student who is a mother living across the street from Lea said she volunteers there and encouraged others to get involved.
Several speakers spoke about the environment: the need to achieve climate neutrality, to explore sustainable transportation, such as BikeShare, to avert “catastrophic climate disruption” caused by climate change and the notion of divesting from fossil fuel companies. One person asked, “What will be our climate legacy?”
Other topics included the size of late fees assessed by SFS and the tuition increases for graduate students, as well as diversity initiatives and encouraging entrepreneurship among students at Penn.
Several Council members expressed an interest in having such Open Forum opportunities more than once per semester to be able to discuss topics in more depth.