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, April 16, 1997

  1. Intellectual Property. Invited guests Professors Robert Gorman and Gerald Porter explained they were members of a University-wide 14-member task force that produced a report in 1995 recommending improvements in the University's copyright policy. It is a small piece of a ten -year enterprise trying to establish a comprehensive, fair policy. There had also been a three-year review of patent policy. Existing intelletual property policy is ancient, superseded by new Federal copyright law, and could be unfairly applied to faculty. Patents raise the question to what extent does the University have an interest in patents developed by faculty in the course of their research and teaching. Copyrights raise the question to what extent does the University have an interest in copyrights of books, articles, films, computer programs, course ware, and a variety of other media. One concern is what should University policy be, particularly its interest in the facultys' ownership of work faculty generates.

    Another concern is the process by which policy is ultimately formulated. Recently, the task force report was set aside by the provost who then requested each of the deans to propose an intellectual property policy on copyright, software and courseware. Professor Porter stated a task force in the mid-1980's created software policy that called for a five-year review of the policy. That review has not occurred and communications to the administration about it have not been returned. He said policy assigning copyright to the University must be negotiated. Professor Gorman stated it is important for the Faculty Senate to monitor the evolution of the University copyright policy to insure faculty interests are protected.

    Provost Chodorow said the process broke down after the work of the task force was completed implying that members of the task force came to him with doubts outside those they expressed in the committee. SEC members strongly objected to such behavior, noting that dissent should expressed internally through a minority report, and strongly urging the Provost to request such side-bar communications from committee or task force members in the future.

    The provost then had a discussion with the deans which lead him to approach the problem in a new way. According to him, the issues are discipline based and are moving differently; technology is moving rapidly. It is not a question of needing expert advice but a question of understanding different modes in different fields. He asked the deans to take this matter up in concert with their faculty. He stated that most copy righted properties are not worth much to individuals but is a great cost to the University. The University gives the product away and then outsiders sell it back to us at great cost. He asked, What is it we are paying faculty to do if the University can't get paid for any of their product? The provost agreed that parts of the policy are sound and that the Faculty Senate and disciplines should play a role in the current process. Professor Porter noted that the task force did address some of the issues raised by the provost. He drew attention to the task force policy on transfer of royalties to the University, pointing out that all royalties do not have to be signed away.

    Among concerns raised by SEC members were: potential problems if there were different policies in each of the schools ; difficulty reaching agreement on a University-wide policy; high publishers' costs to junior faculty and publishers' insistence on obtaining the copyright; the classroom expression of a faculty member may become the property of the University; the new approach to a policy seems to come from a business point of view; a review of the incentive system for creating new knowledge should occur; concern that faculty who create a multi-media course will be replaced by the product they produce. Faculty Chair, Peter Kuriloff, noted that the real issue here is how much of a share in the intellectual property of faculty members the University wants and deserves verses how much the faculty want and deserve. He suggested this issue was of grave concern to the entire community and that it might perhaps be best dealt with through negotiations between a Faculty Senate Blue Ribbon committee and the administration, after the issues have been clarifed through the current round of discussions with deans and their faculties.

  2. Diversity on Locust Walk. SEC members were concerned about continuing efforts to diversify use of the buildings along Locust Walk. In particular, they felt the current use of the Castle as the Community Learning House was good and the fraternity should not return. Provost Chodorow said that the 1952 agreement with the fraternity would be honored and the fraternity would return to the Castle. The Community Learning House will be well taken care of. SEC members were very clear in their desire to continue the diversification of Locust Walk.

  3. Report from the Senate Committee on the Faculty. Committee Chair Professor Sheila Murnaghan briefly reported on the issues discussed by the committee this year. They were: change in faculty composition; rewording and clarification on two policies on parenting, one granting extension of the tenure clock and automatic relief from teaching for those who give birth during a teaching semester, and the other pro-viding relief for men and women during temporary incapacity; review and detailed analysis of affirmative action. Outstanding business is a response to a report on the Faculty Grievance Commission and new items to review regarding proposals for new positions in the Graduate School of Education and the Wharton School. A report will be published in Almanac.

  4. Faculty Exit Questionnaire. SEC completed revision and approved the questionnaire unanimously. It will be published in a future Almanac.

  5. Other New Business. SEC was informed that there will be a new vendor policy in the campus area. Members were concerned about a range of issues that included concern about reduction in the number of food trucks; extra time to walk to proposed new vending areas; long lines and a long wait; food trucks are part of campus culture; increased lunch cost by replacing food trucks with restaurants inside University buildings; public health issues raised by the trucks themselves-ie. illness caused from food purchased from trucks; a broad reaching change in vendor policy should not occur over the summer and without consulation with SEC; and more information is needed.

    Discussion turned to plans under consideration to move the Faculty Club. It was pointed out that the current Faculty Club is underutilized, has a high annual deficit, and $2 million in repairs are needed for the buiding. SEC members felt it was important to have a Faculty Club that was well managed, had easy delivery access, had a friendly attractive environment, sufficient meeting rooms and good food. SEC was urged to attend the annual Faculty Club Membership meeting Tuesday, May 6 at 4:00 p.m.


Volume 43 Number 32
April 29, 1997

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