Faculty Senate — Advocate and Watchdog>
Faculty Senate Accomplishments 2011-2012
Report of the Chair of the Faculty Senate
The Faculty Senate was established in 1952 as the representative voice for full-time teaching faculty at the University of Pennsylvania. The University of Pennsylvania embraces a vision of shared governance in which the faculty is regularly consulted on academic issues and faculty decisions heavily influence policies that are under the purview of faculty responsibility. Much of the work of the Faculty Senate is done through an elected Senate Executive Committee (SEC) and a set of standing committees. On behalf of the faculty, members of SEC and the various committees engage in substantive investigation and consideration of matters of import with the University administration. In addition to the work of these committees, the Tri-Chairs (Chair-Elect, Chair, and Past-Chair) meet regularly with the President and the Provost. These meetings provide opportunities for the administration to learn about and respond to issues raised by SEC and/or its committees, as well as the many faculty constituencies across the University. Summaries of SEC meetings appear in the Almanac monthly, and detailed reports from each Senate committee appear elsewhere in this issue. What follows is a summary of some of SEC’s accomplishments for the 2011-2012 academic year.
The Faculty Senate Executive Committee serves three major functions:
- Consultation with senior administrators, with an eye toward understanding their areas of responsibility and staying informed about their plans in an effort to better engage with them, ensuring that faculty perspectives and concerns are brought to bear on relevant issues. This year we met with the President Amy Gutmann and Provost Vincent Price, Senior Vice Provost for Research Steve Fluharty, Vice Provost for Faculty Lynn Lees, Vice Provost for Education Andy Binns, and Vice Provost for Global Initiatives Ezekiel Emanuel, and Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli.
- Review and approval of changes in formal policy that fall under Senate responsibility. This year the Graduate School of Education (GSE) proposed an increase in their allotment of Senior Lecturers, and the Perelman School of Medicine (PSOM) proposed a new part-time faculty track. Both proposals were reviewed by the Senate Committee on the Faculty and the Academic Mission (SCOF) and then referred to SEC. SEC met with Stanton Wortham, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in the Graduate School of Education, to examine how these changes impact the organization of their school and its programs, and then approved the proposal. The PSOM proposal will be reviewed and voted on by SEC during their last meeting on May 9, 2012; Vice Dean for Faculty and Resident Affairs, Lisa Bellini will represent the Medical School for this discussion.
- Initiating consideration and exploration of issues that are of concern to the SEC membership, or that are referred to SEC for discussion and response by its committees. These issues often became the topics of further consultation with the administration.
I am extremely pleased to report that the SEC and its committees had a very productive year, engaging in a wide variety of activities, including:
- Action Plan for Faculty Diversity and Excellence. At the end of last academic year, the administration released its Diversity Action Plan. This plan is the culmination of last year’s work by SEC and its membership and other constituent groups on campus, which was supported by the administration. This year, SEC and the Senate Committee on Faculty Development, Diversity and Equity (SCFDDE) monitored the initial implementation of the Plan, and remains committed to being actively involved in addressing what it views as a serious concern for the future of the University.
- Faculty Climate Survey. The ad hoc committee appointed by SEC last year continued to work with Vice Provost for Faculty Lynn Lees to revise and implement the Faculty Climate Survey across the University this year. This committee will continue its work this summer, reviewing results and advising Vice Provost Lees on analyses of particular interest to SEC and its committees. This year’s ad hoc committee includes representatives of relevant Senate committees, including SCFDDE and SCOF.
- Masters and Certificate Programs. The Senate Committee on the Faculty and Administration (SCOA) undertook an examination of Masters and Certificate programs across the University, gathering information from all 12 schools on their programs and enrollments. This committee also considered how best to assess the level of faculty involvement in the oversight of these programs, meeting with Vice Provost for Education Andy Binns and Vijay Kumar, Deputy Dean for Education in the School of Engineering. This work sets the stage for continued exploration of this important issue next year.
- Faculty Track Changes. In addition to the review of proposals from the Graduate School of Education and the Perelman School of Medicine mentioned previously, the Senate Committee on the Faculty and Academic Mission (SCOF) reviewed and revised their guidelines for requests from schools for faculty track changes. These guidelines are shared with the Office of the Provost as a guide for information needed from schools requesting faculty track changes. These guidelines were implemented this year, greatly expediting the committee’s process for review and presentation to SEC.
In addition to these accomplishments:
- The Senate Committee on Students and Educational Policy (SCSEP) continued to build on their relationship with Eric Furda, Dean of Admissions in an effort to focus on Penn’s strategies for recruiting students from underrepresented minorities and low-income families. This year, SCSEP worked in conjunction with the University Council Committee on Academic and Related Affairs (CARA) to pursue this issue. SCSEP also met with Vice Provost for Education Andy Binns to discuss the work being done by his Faculty Council on Access and Academic Support to assure post-matriculation success for undergraduates.
- The Senate Committee on Development, Diversity and Equity (SCFDDE) worked with Vice Provost Lynn Lees on a memo distributed to Deans and Department Chairs on January 10, 2012 clarifying issues on the application of Penn’s policy on Extension of the Probationary Periods that Apply to Granting of Tenure and Promotion to Associate Professor. The committee also monitored updates to the language in the University’s Sexual Harassment policy, in collaboration with Vice President for Institutional Affairs, Joann Mitchell and reviewed and discussed the status of childcare at Penn and the use of the Parents in a Pinch program with Marie Witt, Vice President for Business Services and Marilyn Kraut, Director of Quality Worklife Programs for the Division of Human Resources. This committee also met with the Ombudsman and the Associate Ombudsman to discuss usage of the office and the maintenance of continuity. These accomplishments are in addition to their monitoring schools’ progress on their diversity action plans in conjunction with the University Council Diversity and Equity Committee, including an update from John Jackson, Senior Advisor for Diversity, and recommendations of topics of interest for the ad hoc Faculty Climate Survey Review Committee.
- The Faculty Senate Executive Committee engaged in important conversation with Vice Provost for Research, Steve Fluharty regarding the research-related administrative burdens facing faculty across the University. Vice Provost Fluharty has formed several working groups that include faculty recommendations from SEC to consider these issues, including but not limited to Conflict of Interest.
- The Provost’s office and the Office of Institutional Research provided salary and other relevant data to the Senate Committee on the Economic Status of the Faculty (SCESF) early in the fall semester, once again allowing this committee to complete its report (Almanac February 28, 2012) and address concerns with the administration early in the spring semester.The Committee on Students and Educational Policy (SCSEP) established a relationship with the Office of Admissions and met with Dean Eric Furda; this will provide a continuing mechanism for faculty involvement in admissions policy.
We saw another year with very good participation and member enthusiasm. We continued last year ’s practice of soliciting the membership for agenda items at the beginning of the academic year, in addition to making the format more conversational. These suggestions paved the way for our consideration of research- and travel-related administrative burdens on faculty, the roll-out implementation of the University’s Diversity Action Plan, and fostered helpful changes in the format of the SEC meetings. Our members remained actively engaged in these conversations throughout the year and often volunteered their service on standing and ad hoc committees, as well as for Vice Provost Fluharty’s working groups and committees associated with the Middle States Accreditation.
The Senate committees have been extremely productive this year, accomplishing a great deal. This is due in large part to the admirable commitment that the members bring to their service to the faculty and the University, as well as the effective and responsible leadership of those who volunteered their time and skills to chair these committees. The reports of these committees are included in this issue of the Almanac and describe the many accomplishments not included in this report. I would like to take the opportunity to thank both the membership of the various committees, as well as their chairs: Sigal Barsade (SCOA) Sheila Murnaghan and Ivan Dmochowski (SCSEP) Sarah Kagan (SCESF) Jeffrey Winkler (SCOF) Kelly Jordan-Sciutto and Peter Struck (SCFDDE).
The Tri-Chairs of the Faculty Senate engage in frequent and worthwhile meetings with President Amy Gutmann and Provost Vincent Price. In these consultations, we share the perspectives of the faculty with the administration. These conversations have been engaging and productive, and we appreciate their straightforwardness in discussing any issues we brought to them for consideration.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not express my deep and enduring gratitude to my partners in this endeavor. I could not have agreed to take on this important responsibility without the support of my staff in the Center for Africana Studies. Gale Garrison, Carol Davis, Michelle Houston, and Deb Broadnax hold down a sizable and growing fort, taking care of the Center, the students who are attached to the Center, and of me. I am on time and up to speed in no small measure because of this wonderful group of women. I also want to thank my faculty colleagues in the Center for their support, and for making themselves available at a moment’s notice.
During my year as Chair-Elect, Robert Hornik was an exceptional model in leadership. This year, as Past-Chair, Bob continued to offer his thoughtful advice and valuable insights in a wide variety of circumstances. Chair-Elect Susan Margulies has been a quick-study, bringing terrific and much-appreciated enthusiasm and commitment to her role, as well as a wealth of knowledge of issues important to the Senate; I am very much looking forward to her leadership in the coming year. The three of us could not accomplish anything without the undying commitment of Sue White, Executive Assistant to the Faculty Senate. There really are not words to express my amazement at her institutional memory and her capacity for recruiting committee members and then managing those committees, making sure that the tri-chairs stay on task and respond appropriately to all that is brought to us for consideration, remembering to remind us when we forget while at the same time staying on top of her own to-do list, and elegantly navigating and maintaining relationships with administrative counterparts. We would be lost without her, and we are truly grateful that she is our partner.
Camille Z. Charles
Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Professor in the Social Sciences
Professor of Sociology and Education
Director, Center for Africana Studies