SENATE From the Senate Office

The following statement is published in accordance with the 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 Senate Chair Peter Kuriloff or Executive Assistant Carolyn Burdon, Box 12 College Hall/6303, 898-6943 or

Actions Taken by the Senate Executive Committee

Wednesday, September 4, 1996

  1. Academic Planning and Budget Committee and Capital Council. The Academic Planning and Budget Committee discussed the Agenda for Excellence at its first meeting. Capital Council has not yet met.

  2. Benefits review and changes: issues and implications for faculty. SEC discussed the benefits review that is underway with Associate Provost Barbara Lowery, Vice Provost for Human Resources Clint Davidson, and Personnel Benefits Committee Chair David Hackney. Coopers and Lybrand recommended in its December 1994 report (Almanac January 17, 1995) that Penn review its benefits and retirement programs. Committees with faculty representatives are at work and Towers and Perrin has been hired to assist. Detailed information is being gathered from 28 universities participating in a Penn survey. All benefits are on the table for review. Penn's 30.1% employee benefits rate may be among the highest at comparable institutions. Current benefits are very complex resulting in costly administration and difficulty communicating plan options and comparing plans. Its retirement programs for those earning $65,000 and above and for those earning below $65,000 may not meet Internal Revenue Service comparable value guidelines. If Penn must make changes to reach comparability it must be accomplished by July 1, 1997. The administration's objective is not to reduce benefits but in the face of declining University resources additional cost sharing by faculty and staff may be necessary. A letter explaining the process will be sent to all employees and there will be further communication through Almanac and Compass. There will also be an opportunity for employees to respond to the preliminary plan.

  3. Electronic Privacy Policy. University Council Committee on Communications Chair Martin Pring reviewed the background on the policy, noting that it had been on the agenda of the last two University Council meetings but no action was taken. The policy would protect the privacy of individual's electronic information, wherever it resides, in the same way that physical property in faculty offices is currently protected under Human Resources Policy 002 "Safeguarding University Assets". It was moved, seconded and adopted unanimously, that "the Senate Executive Committee endorses the Policy on Privacy of Electronic Information dated October 16, 1995 (Almanac March 19, 1996) and urges that it be adopted by University Council and the administration."

  4. Motion to abolish the annual meeting of the Faculty Senate. SEC member Larry Gross summarized the discussion begun at the May meeting pointing out that a quorum is frequently unmet. The proposal will still allow for special meetings to be called by petition of twenty faculty members. A detailed annual report by the Faculty Senate Chair would be substituted for the annual meeting. So few special meetings have been called in the past twenty years that it demonstrates faculty confidence in SEC. The few special meetings that have been called have had large turnouts and have demonstrated the power of an aroused faculty. It was moved, seconded and adopted that the proposal to abolish the annual meeting of the Faculty Senate be forwarded to the standing faculty for a vote.

  5. Update on just cause revision. Faculty Senate Chair Peter Kuriloff presented a modified version of the proposed just cause revision that resulted from meetings of the Chair and Past Chair of the Faculty Senate, a faculty member, the Trustee Committee Chair, and a trustee member of the Trustee Committee on Academic Policy. The only substantive change from the earlier version (Almanac March 14, 1995) approved by the faculty is that the president now has the ability to remand a decision of the hearing board for its reconsideration. Also, the Policy on Misconduct in Research has been separated from the just cause procedure and is again a stand alone document that has not been revised. The separation of the two documents is recommended because federal government regulations on misconduct in research change frequently and revisions will be easier to make. The Senate Chairs also agreed to non-substantive editorial clarifications.

    A question arose about whether the research faculty category, which had been added to the earlier revised just cause document, should be retained. A subcommittee was appointed to confer with experts and report back to the next SEC meeting, at which time a vote will be taken.


Volume 43 Number 3
September 10, 1996

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