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Speaking Out welcomes reader contributions. During weekly publication, short timely letters on University issues can be accepted Thursday noon for the following Tuesday's issue, subject to right-of-reply guidelines. Advance notice of intention to submit is appreciated.--Ed.

Speaking Out

The following was sent to the Board of Governors of the Faculty Club, and to Almanac for publication.

Faculty Club: Questions

Before the Faculty Club was created in its present form, there was a private Faculty Club on a small street running parallel to 36th Street. My recollection is that the land on which it stood was needed for the construction of the present Faculty Club and was deeded to the University for the purpose of a Faculty Club. The previous club was known as the Lenape Club. The thought in terminating the existence of the Lenape Club was to permit the present larger club to come into existence and serve the larger interests of the University.

In my thinking, the University has an obligation to continue to use this building as a Faculty Club and not put it back in a large closet in the inn. It has a certain presence and status where it is. While the accountants have come up with rather high operating costs and members are indebted to the University for supporting a large portion of these costs, the amounts are not important in a billion-dollar budget and the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania is important to its continued operation. In other words, I view the costs of the University as a very modest fringe benefit for the faculty. The fact that not all of the faculty utilize it does not detract from its importance for those that do. Furthermore, I would be interested to know how many official University meetings are held there and whether the University pays rental for the rooms that the administrators use. In short, I find the decision to condense the Faculty Club to a second floor spot in the inn very disappointing and from the standpoint of a previous member of the Lenape Club rather deplorable.

We have not heard of the proposed use of the present Faculty Club building. I note also in your mailing that the facility in the inn would be closed by 5 p.m. except on Wednesday evenings and also closed Saturday and Sunday.

In short, the proposed change seems to me to deal unfairly with the old Lenape Club, unfairly with the Skinner family, unfairly with President Harnwell, who had the vision to build a Faculty Club that all could belong to, and an affront to the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania. Furthermore, I was unaware that we were operating under a lease and I am not sure that this was ever made clear to the Lenape group when they agreed to give up their land.

-- Jonathan E. Rhoads, M.D., Professor of Surgery, Provost Emeritus

The Board's president responded personally to Dr. Rhoads and gave Almanac the gist of her reply. It is followed by a response from the administrative unit working with the Board on the proposal to move the Club.

Responses to Dr. Rhoads

The Board of Governors of the Faculty Club received your letter expressing concerns about the projected move of the Club to the facility across the street called the Inn at Penn. The Board of Governors also is concerned about this matter.

You have raised issues that have not been raised previously, related to the Lenape Club, land transfer, and the intentions of the individuals involved in those early days of agreements. I will ask the Board attorney to look into those matters on our behalf. This individual is not part of the University community, so does not represent the Administration or Trustees. The terms of the arrangements for the Faculty Club at the Inn have not been discussed in any detail. It was premature to publish times of operations in that earlier issue of Almanac, October 21, 1997, duplicated in the Faculty Club Newsletter.

An ad hoc committee of the Board has begun a second round of meetings whose focus is on refining the physical design of the space, deciding on the interior decor for the Club, and defining carefully the many issues related to time of operation and use of space, personnel, costs of food, privileges of membership in other areas of the Inn (such as reduced cost of food in the Inn restaurant, and room rental for meetings), and many others. There is no agreement on these items to date. They are all under discussion.

My personal objective is to "institutionalize" the concept of a faculty/university club at the University. Should the Inn be sold or converted to other use, and the Faculty Club no longer fit well in the new configuration, I would like guarantees that other appropriate space be available because the Club is a integral feature of the University.

But there are many factors to be considered.

Are you aware that the University Health Center is constructing a Medical School Faculty Club within the medical center complex? This development will effectively remove that constituency from the existing Faculty Club in the near future. We simply do not have the financial resources to create a Penn Club at Penn on the scale of the one in New York, or the one being developed by the Medical Center. The current University administrators do not want to continue to support the Faculty Club, neither the indirect costs identified in the lease agreement, nor the direct costs that run a deficit.

These and related problems have consumed a great deal of my time over the past four years, and I feel strongly about many of the issues involved. I am grateful for your continuing interest and support of the Club.

-- Elsa L. Ramsden, Chair, Faculty Club Board of Governors

Dr. Rhoads raises an interesting point regarding the history of the Faculty Club and we will work with Counsel to understand what, if any, implications this may have on the future use of Skinner Hall. We will certainly research the issue thoroughly.

Our current understanding of the documents is that a possible move was contemplated by the original trust and that it is the role of the University to decide on the most appropriate use of Skinner Hall for the future.

As Dr. Ramsden notes, planning for the new facility commenced immediately upon the Faculty Club Board's approval for the move and has been quite intense over the past several months. An ad hoc committee of the Faculty Club Board of Governors has had several meetings with the Office of Business Services to determine the operational and contractual issues involved with the new facility. While many issues remain, discussions have been constructive and we are hopeful that most of the pertinent issues will

be addressed this semester. Competitive pricing, member benefits and discounts, and availability of meeting and conference rooms for faculty use are some of the important details we are working through.

At the same time, a separate ad hoc group of the Board (joined by a representative of the Faculty Senate and a GSFA faculty member) has been focusing on the interior floor plan and decor of the space. We have made

great strides in this area and are confident that the final product will reflect both the importance and individuality of the Faculty Club within the Inn at Penn. The current design will provide a beautifully appointed

buffet dining room as well as a more formal dining room. It will also continue the tradition of the Club's gallery area featuring rotating exhibits. Club members will also enjoy using the "living room" of the Inn, immediately adjacent to the Faculty Club entrance. This will be an exceptionally lovely space, with two fireplaces, a bar, comfortable sofas

and seating, and will serve as an area to meet colleagues and guests.

This continues to be a cooperative effort between the project planners, the administration, and the ad hoc committees of the Faculty Club Board. In short, there are many more details to finalize as we work towards the opening of the new facilities in fall of 1999 but we are excited about the progress made to date.

--Marie D. Witt, Associate Vice President, Business Services

The letter below replies to two letters that appeared in Speaking Out December 16/23 and two others published January 13.--Ed.

Response on Vending

Over the course of the past several months, my staff and I have been working with all interested constituencies in crafting a well-balanced and appropriately regulated framework for the future of sidewalk and street vending in University City.

The culmination of these efforts has been a legislative proposal which we believe strikes a careful balance between the needs and interests of all affected parties; maintains one hundred [100] public vending locations, a number well in excess of the approximately eighty [80] vendors now conducting business in the area; creates an additional forty-five [45] Fresh Air Food Plaza locations on campus; and empowers the City's regulatory agencies to better enforce critical public health, safety, and noise standards related to such vending.

In keeping with the goal of communicating widely with the University on this issue, Almanac recently published the full text of this proposed legislation, along with a map illustrating the exact locations where vending would continue to be permitted if this proposed ordinance were adopted by the City Council. In response to the publication of this information, we have received several responses, including some letters that have appeared recently in Almanac. We have duly noted the comments and suggestions made in these letters, e-mail messages and phone calls, and we will continue to keep them under our advisement and consideration as the legislative and development processes go forward.

We expect the next steps will include further consultation by Councilwoman Blackwell with interested parties, followed by the introduction of a proposed ordinance. This ordinance would then be the subject of public hearings in City Council prior to any enactment. The University intends to move forward expeditiously with the construction of on-campus vending sites so as to minimize any disruption.

-- Carol Scheman, Vice President,

Government, Community and Public Affairs

Correction and Comment

The column "Beyond Orientalism" in Almanac/Compass Vol. 44/16 (December 16/23, 1997), p. 12, gives some undeserved (and undesired) credit to my work: The decision by various academic departments or programs, including Penn's Department of Oriental Studies, to drop the word "Oriental" from their names was in no way influenced by or related to my writings.

--Wilhelm Halbfass,

Professor of Indian Philosophy



Editors' Note:

During the period of merger between Almanac and The Compass, it has been customary for us to run corrections on behalf of The Compass, as above. This seems a good time to remind that the merger has ended and that in place of The Compass the Office of University Relations now issues a biweekly tabloid called the Pennsylvania Current, shown here.

Return to:Almanac, University of Pennsylvania, January 27, 1998, Volume 44, Number 19