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AAUP A Letter to the President

The following letter was sent to the President and to Almanacfor publication on November 5, and was held for response.

On Collegiality and Consultation

Dear Dr. Rodin:

The Board of Directors of the American Association of University Professors at the University of Pennsylvania is deeply concerned about recent lapses in the long history of broad consultation and consensus building between the administration and the faculty of the University in decisions that affect the academic community. The Board has directed me to convey its concern directly to you as President and to the entire administration.

For many years, the President and Provost have included at a minimum the three Senate chairs in discussions of University problems and potential solutions. The tradition of consultation, even when confidentiality is required, creates a sense of mutual collegiality and respect. Moreover, the perspectives of the faculty leadership, who have had a lifetime invested in this University, are extremely valuable input to the decision-making process. The faculty leadership understand the need for and respect confidentiality when it is appropriate. The principles of prior consultation and participative decision making are preserved in this manner.

In this administration, on the other hand, this practice and tradition have been disregarded. The failure of this administration to include faculty in consultation, problem solving, and decision making has ruptured collegiality and the sense of community at this University. Faculty leadership includes many who are prominent in establishing interdisciplinary programs for which Penn is highly regarded around the world. Disaffecting these people risks Penn's future.

Many faculty feel victimized by College Hall and the Franklin Building. The decline in morale among senior faculty is palpable.

As President of this University, you have a key role in setting the style and tone of your administration. We bring our concerns to your attention with the hope that you will reverse the recent practice that has led to the perception among the faculty that you neither care about nor want their participation in University decision making.

Sincerely yours,
Elsa L. Ramsden, Chair (Penn AAUP Board)

Response to Professor Ramsden

We regret that Professor Ramsden appears to be unaware of the many ways in which we consult with the University community in the administration of Penn's affairs. This is especially surprising, considering that Professor Ramsden, as chair of the Faculty Club, knows first-hand the depth and extent of the consultation process, with regard to the Club.

We believe that consultation is vitally important to the life of the University, and it is particularly important to us that our faculty have ample information on the range of issues facing Penn. In an effort to enhance consultation at Penn, we announced at last week's University Council meeting that a special committee on consultation will be appointed to provide advice and counsel for the future. We hope that Professor Ramsden was pleased to learn of this plan. The committee will make recommendations to Council by April 1, 1998 on further improvements in Penn's consultative processes.

We look forward to the committee's report.

Judith Rodin , President
Stanley Chodorow, Provost

Return to:Almanac, University of Pennsylvania, November 18 1997, Volume 44, No. 13