Last Wednesday, Reed E. Pyeritz, the William Smilow Professor of Medicine and Genetics at the Perelman School of Medicine, served as the acting moderator for the first Council meeting of the new academic year, and Therese (Terry) Richmond, the Andrea B. Laporte Professor of Nursing and associate dean for research and innovation at the Penn School of Nursing, was appointed moderator for the year ahead. Lauren Steinfeld, Penn Medicine’s chief privacy officer and Penn’s senior advisor for privacy in Audit, Compliance and Privacy, was appointed parliamentarian for her fifth year.
President Amy Gutmann spoke about the recent announcement concerning phasing out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). She called President Donald Trump’s decision a “heartbreaking development” that violates the core principles as a University community and a nation. She said that the “Dreamers” are an integral part of the Penn community and Penn will support a safe and welcoming community.
Provost Wendell Pritchett added that Penn will ensure that DACA recipients continue to receive financial aid, fellowship stipends and related support; Penn will protect the students’ privacy. The office of the VPUL will host an information session on Thursday, September 14, noon-1:30 p.m. in Bodek Lounge, Houston Hall. He also encouraged students to take advantage of the many resource centers and support services across the University.
Santosh Venkatesh, chair of the Council Steering Committee, announced the four focus issues for the 2017-2018 academic year: Athletics and Extracurricular Activities (December); Diversity and Inclusion (January); Penn Connects 3.0 (February) and Multidisciplinary Approaches to Tackling the World’s Most Pressing Challenges (March). He also announced that there will be two meetings with an Open Forum: December and February.
There was a suggestion from the Undergraduate Assembly to expand the scope of the Campus and Community Life Committee Charge to be proactive and not just reactive in monitoring mental health services.
There was a presentation on the current Theme Year, the Year of Innovation. David Fox, director of New Student Orientation and Academic Initiatives, said that new technology was used to read the Penn Reading Project (PRP) book, The Innovators by Walter Isaacson, online in reading groups this year. This is the 27th year of the PRP for incoming students and the 11th Theme Year. Mr. Fox said that there will be programming throughout the academic year pertaining to innovation. He then announced the PRP 2018 book, The Bridge of San Luis Rey and theme for the 2018-2019 academic year, The Year of Why.