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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 Vivian Seltzer or Executive Assistant Carolyn Burdon, Box 12 College Hall/6303, 898-6943 or

Actions Taken by the Senate Executive Committee

Wednesday, February 4, 1998

1. Items from the Chair's Report.

a. SEC appointed Erling Boe as chair of the Senate Committee on the Economic Status of the Faculty.

b. The faculty members-chair, Howard Lesnick, John Keene, Lynn Lees--and other members of the University Council Ad Hoc Committee on Consultation were announced.

c. Frank Goodman's subcommittee on strategic planning is studying faculty involvement in design of the school plans. Faculty were invited to communicate their comments to Frank Goodman or members of the subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Administration.

d. School reports on intellectual property are coming in to the Faculty Senate Office for review by Ralph Ginsberg's subcommittee of the Senate Committee on the Faculty.

e. John Keene reported that architects for the new Faculty Club have redesigned a section of the plan so as to provide an additional meeting room accommodating 12-14 people. A special subcommittee of the Faculty Club Board of Governors is working with architects on selection of interior materials. The Senate Chairs have requested Executive Vice President John Fry publish an Almanac piece detailing the Faculty Club move. They asked that the University community be invited to express their views on the Faculty Club move.

f. It was originally intended that savings realized through cost containment were to go into educational programs. The Senate Chairs have requested the Executive Vice President provide information on where savings have occurred and where they are being used. Some SEC members expressed concern that for two years the University budget has not been published in Almanac. SEC requested the Chair to make inquiries.

g. SEC members had reported at the last meeting efforts by some school deans to undertake a post-tenure review process. Other schools continue an annual faculty review tied to salary increases. The chair stated that neither the President nor the Provost had called for post-tenure review. The chair mentioned that the President encourages a developmental view, looking at academic career stages and functions with emphasis on professional and academic development as well as variation in responsibilities. Several SEC members reiterated concerns expressed at the last meeting, particularly that any review procedure needed faculty discussion and approval. SCAFR Chair Larry Gross announced that SCAFR will meet shortly to discuss post-tenure review and recent events. He invited faculty to contact him or a SCAFR member with any information.

h. The chair noted she received an e-mail from the local AAUP Chapter regarding concerns about increased pressures and the teaching climate in the Medical School. Several SEC members said there are increased pressures to bring in more grant dollars and for clinical faculty to work harder. There is less time to study about what faculty do and it is increasingly difficult for clinician educators to assemble an academic career. At this point there is not yet concern that the teaching mission has begun to suffer but proliferation of other types of faculty will displace clinician educators who are competing for the same grants. Another SEC member held the view that the cost will be not to teaching but to the tenure system and that this point is related to post-tenure review, e.g. more initial hires are in ranks not leading to tenure. Another SEC member pointed out that the increased use of part-time faculty is a widespread national concern.

2. Continued discussion on proposed changes in medical plan caps. John Egner of Towers Perrin said the proposed change in the cap on out-of-network benefit under PENNCare from $2M to $1M is intended to encourage patients with high-cost illnesses to receive their care in-network. The proposed in-network uncapping fits competitive norms in an unmanaged environment. SEC member and Council Personnel Benefits Committee Chair David Hackney clarified that under Blue Cross Plan 100 the $1M cap is on Major Medical of Plan 100, the rest of Plan 100 is not capped. He went on to say the you could switch plans into any other health option offered by the University if you were approaching the cap and when approaching the cap in the second plan you could switch to a third plan, and so on. A SEC member pointed out that while switching plans is permitted now, that may not be the case in the future. It was also pointed out that if changing the dollar cap produced no savings while imposing management rigor that it was a poor decision and sends the wrong message. This change alone does little of significance while plan switching and million-dollar lifetime caps remain. The long-term question is if we are pushing people into managed care is that where we want to go? If so, will we have to push much harder (by sharply reducing the out-of-network caps, eliminating plan switching, or by other means) to get them there.

The following motion was adopted: The Senate Executive Committee endorses the proposed change in medical plan in- and out-of-service caps and authorizes a Senate committee to examine the long-term issues for discussion at a future SEC meeting.

3. Informal discussion with Interim Provost Michael Wachter. In response to an issue raised by the chair, Interim Provost Wachter began by stating that there has been no request to the schools from the President or Provost to carry out a post-tenure review process and that any material change in faculty procedures should be brought before the Faculty Senate for review. Several SEC members described post-tenure reviews ongoing in their school while others stated that for some time there had been in place an annual review of faculty connected with salary increases. The chair pointed out that last year SEC recommended that deans/department chairs annual salary/review letter include criteria on which the raise was based. Several SEC members raised the issue that the Faculty Senate had approved an increase of clinician educators in the Medical School to 40% but that cap has by now exceeded 50%. A SEC member stated the maximums should be adhered to and should be tracked in the Provost's Office. The Interim Provost said he had only been at the job one month and would look into the matter and get back to SEC.

Interim Provost Wachter described his priorities to accomplish University goals and to move forward efforts begun when he was Deputy Provost. These include: the College House system and establishing a firm structure for it to operate and succeed; the Six Academic Priorities; budgets of the Provost's Center and other center budgets. He said the University is very healthy and getting stronger in important areas of education. A subcommittee of the Academic Planning and Budget Committee will have a report on distance learning in a few months. Interim Provost Wachter was convinced that students will want to come to Penn and participate in programs in residence and that distance learning will be ancillary to that education. Distance learning has enormous risk and promise but will be channeled in a productive way.

4. Committee on Students and Educational Policy Progress Report. Committee Chair David Williams presented an interim, working report. Existing mechanisms for faculty oversight of new credit-bearing courses function well. Less clear are oversight mechanisms for non-degree and certificate programs. Special attention was given to the potential impact of instruction centered in the new College Houses where it appears current procedures will be followed for all credit-bearing courses. For non-degree and certificate programs the preliminary impression is that these do not yet appear to draw a substantial student clientele, do not dilute faculty involvement in degree-granting programs and seem well-conceived and responsibly delivered. The committee's concern with non-degree programs is linked to the group's focus on the instructional impact of the electronic revolution and information technologies. There is a great deal of information available on Web pages; administrative support for faculty involvement is available and helpful. The committee also focussed major effort on issues of educational policy in a time of market challenge and irresistable technological change. Comments and suggestions were invited.

5. Almanac publication procedures. Almanac Editor Karen Gaines gave an overview of how an issue is planned, set up and printed. It was noted that the Faculty Senate Committee on Publication Policy for Almanac also serves as the faculty component of the Almanac Advisory Board. Illiustrating ways that physical realities of printing affect the editorial process, she distributed Almanac's Guide for Readers and Contributors and asked feedback on current and future uses of its web editions to meet faculty priorities. Responding to a question on the absence of routine publication of the University budget, Ms. Gaines stated it was last published in Almanac in 1995, and that publication slipped during a change in administrative personnel. A SEC member suggested that SEC ask the annual University budget be routinely published in Almanac. The Senate Chair thanked Ms. Gaines for her hard work and cooperation.

6. Other new business. Jack Nagel outlined a vendor policy meeting he attended recently on behalf of SEC.

7. Deferred items. Past Chair's Report on activities of the Academic Planning and Budget Committee and Capitol Council was carried over to the next meeting, along with benefits proposals on mental health and long-term disability.

Return to:Almanac, University of Pennsylvania, February 10, 1998, Volume 44, Number 21