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 John Keene or Executive Assistant Carolyn Burdon, Box 12 College Hall/6303, 898-6943 or

Actions Taken by the

Senate Executive Committee

Wednesday, December 2, 1998

1. Chair's Report. The Chair noted that the open forum is scheduled at University Council on December 9 and urged SEC members to attend. (See Agenda and Chair's Memorandum)

2. Past Chair's Report on Academic Planning and Budget Committee and on Capital Council. The Past Chair stated that it is difficult to report to SEC each month on a confidential committee. At the last meeting reports were given on the search for a director of the Annenberg Center, and the new Endowment Office, and there were the first of two presentations on the School of Arts and Sciences, a presentation on 40th Street development, and discussion of the Hamilton Square project.

The Past Chair was unable to attend the last meeting of Capital Council.

3. SEC Ad Hoc Committee report on revision of the Proposed Consultation Policy. SEC debated the revisions presented by Professor Howard Lesnick on behalf of Professor William Harris and Harvey Rubin, the other ad hoc committee members. Following additional change, the report was approved unanimously with one abstention. (click here.)

4. Informal discussion with President Rodin and Interim Provost Wachter. President Rodin responded to a SEC question on major academic initiatives that advance the Agenda for Excellence. She went on to describe another area of commitment in the multi- and inter-disciplinary programs that will differentiate Penn. These programs emerged from the schools in response to the challenges of the Agenda for Excellence. The President then described funding for the University-wide items on the Agenda for Excellence, noting that substantial additional amounts had been raised for school-based initiatives. To a SEC member, President Rodin said that, in her view, all the University's expenditures are designed to promote academic objectives, broadly defined.

A SEC member asked about plans for the $300 million renovation of residential buildings. President Rodin said that the proposal was intended to lay out ideas to stimulate thinking on such potential projects. She stated this is a necessary project. To a question on faculty development, the President said it is important to put resources there and she cannot imagine getting outstanding students without having outstanding faculty.

Responding to a SEC question, President Rodin said she had received a proposal for La Casa Latina on October 30, would analyze it, and hoped to have a thoughtful response in a few weeks.

A SEC member proposed there be a mental health symposium for undergraduates. President Rodin stated that the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Committee had recommended a core freshman course on related issues and an effort was being made to determine how best to spread out orientation over the year, to facilitate covering such matters. SEC members suggested these issues could be covered in a freshman seminar or by reinstating a modified physical education requirement.

A SEC member asked about the status of the Medical Faculty Senate motion to create parity in mental health benefits. The Interim Provost said that the Benefits Redesign Committee looked at this last year and decided on balance not to change the benefit. President Rodin said that other benefits were more important and the matter will not be reopened this year but may be reopened in the next year or two.

An inquiry was made as to the progress of the search committee for a provost. President Rodin she she was confident there would be an announcement before Christmas.

5. Other new business. Gregory Possehl, Chair of the Senate Nominating Committee, reminded SEC members to submit suggestions for the Senate Offices to be filled for 1999-2000 (see Almanac November 10, 1998).

Almanac, Vol. 45, No. 14, December 8, 1998