"A Hub of Our Own"

As we launch the first school year of the 21th century at Penn, we should pause to appreciate the many achievements and advancements that are transforming our University and our West Philadelphia neighborhood.

We may begin by welcoming the most selective and academically accomplished class in Penn's history. As they set sail on their voyage of intellectual and personal discovery, these extraordinary young men and women will have exceptional resources, enhanced facilities, a bounty of supports, and most important, a richly honored and decorated world-class faculty behind them. How I envy them!

This class also arrives in a neighborhood that grows cleaner, safer, friendlier, lovelier, and livelier with each passing month--a far cry from where we were only a few years ago. The opening of the Sundance Cinema and fresh food market, the construction of the Penn-assisted preK-8 school, a robust housing market, and other developments will add new chapters to the restoration of a healthy urban ecology in University City.

These projects remind us of the many important connections between Penn and the rest of West Philadelphia. Our main thoroughfares make up a vibrant retail, cultural and service hub around which the Penn and West Philadelphia communities meet as friends and neighbors.

Now, with the official opening this month of the new Perelman Quad, Penn has a new hub of its own around which the University's academic, social, and cultural lives can happily converge.

Thanks to the generosity of Trustee Ronald O. Perelman, Houston Hall, College Hall, Logan Hall, and Irvine Auditorium--the buildings that make up Penn's historic heart--have been restored to grandeur. I am confident that this revitalized heart will pump new life and excitement into the University.

Designed by Robert Venturi and GSFA alumna Denise Scott Brown, the Perelman Quad radiates the genius of two internationally acclaimed architects who have developed a vision to create a seamlessly integrated precinct of student life.

The buildings have been treated to the three Rs: restoration, renovation, and rejuvenation. The new Wynn Commons--once a pleasant, nondescript outdoor venue for lunch breaks--has been redesigned, through a gift from Trustee Stephen A. Wynn, into a central plaza that provides a dynamic and unifying sense of community and a purpose.

Befitting its proud status as the nation's first student union, Houston Hall has been rediscovered as a living work of art. It has regained its décor, a second majestic staircase, and spacious common areas, which are enriched with a browsing library on one end and a café on the other. Now, there also are more dining options for students, faculty, and staff, a dance studio, more meeting rooms, more recreational offerings, and a perfectly restored Class of '49 Auditorium.

Irvine Auditorium has also received a loving and intelligent makeover. Always cherished for its dazzling murals and Curtis Organ, Irvine took its drubbing in the past as an acoustic black hole where sounds went to die.

Now, besides the welcome addition of a café and a small recital hall, Irvine dazzles anew with the Curtis Organ refurbished, the murals restored, and the acoustic black holes filled.

Borrowing from Heraclitus, no one ever steps onto the same Penn campus twice, for the landscape is constantly changing.

The opening of Perelman Quad signals a dramatic change in the campus landscape worth celebrating. Students will have a dynamic center in which to meet, deliberate, dine, and unwind. And I am sure all of us will appreciate having a premier outdoor campus hub for concerts, ceremonies, debates, celebrations, and spontaneous fun.

In fact, the way we come to "see" Perelman Quad will be shaped by the planned and spontaneous ways students, faculty, and staff use its grounds and facilities.

I am confident that we will like what we see.



Representing Academic Needs and Priorities

On behalf of the Faculty Senate, welcome back to a new academic year. For those not familiar with the University, or in need of a reminder, the Faculty Senate is the official voice of the University faculty, established by the Trustees, at faculty request, in 1952. The Senate acts through an elected Executive Committee that meets monthly, through standing and ad hoc committees, and through a Committee on Consultation, made up of the Past Chair (currently Phoebe Leboy), Chair-elect (currently David Hackney) and myself, that meets on a regular basis with the President and Provost. There are a variety of important issues facing the faculty and the University that we will be addressing this year.

The state of the University of Pennsylvania Health System continues to be a matter of great importance, and the Senate will pay attention to the ongoing processes of remediation. In particular, the Senate is concerned with the impact of these efforts on the School of Medicine and the fulfillment of the academic mission of the University in the areas of medical teaching and research. We will continue to monitor efforts to redress the balance of tenured and clinician educator members of the School of Medicine's standing faculty.

A joint Senate and Administration committee has developed a proposed statement on "Policy and Procedures relating to Copyrights and Commitment of Effort," that, hopefully, will finally resolve the long standing issue of intellectual property. The proposed policy will be discussed by the Senate Committee on the Faculty and will be considered by the Senate Executive Committee in October (the policy appears HERE, For Comment, to be addressed to the Faculty Senate).

After extended efforts by the Council Committee on Communications, and several discussions in University Council, a new proposed Policy on Electronic Privacy has been published For Comment, and should be promulgated, with whatever further modifications might be needed, in September. The Senate will be attentive to this important issue, and will join other groups in monitoring the new policy.

The question of post-tenure review, which has been raised at universities around the country, was considered by the Senate Committee on Academic Freedom and Responsibility in 1998-99. I have forwarded their report to the Senate Committee on the Faculty, asking that committee to consider it, along with the report of a Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Administration in 1997-98 on Teaching Evaluations, and to determine what recommendations they might have for further action and/or implementation.

A joint Senate and Administration committee on Faculty Gender Equity, co-chaired by Phoebe Leboy and Barbara Lowery, has begun working over the summer, and is hoping to report by the end of the fall semester. The Gender Equity Study is intended to examine both the representation of women on the faculty in specific disciplines and possible gender bias in the treatment of faculty women at Penn. Our plan is to follow this study with a parallel study of minority faculty beginning in the spring semester.

We return this fall to a campus that is being transformed and reshaped. Perelman Quadrangle is nearing completion, with the reopening of a spectacularly renovated Houston Hall, and Locust Walk is enjoying a welcome increase in academic facilities and programs. Other new buildings and renovation projects dot the landscape, and promise more improvements in the near future. The Senate will continue to be attentive to the ongoing Campus Development Planning process, and will be hearing updates on the recommendations emerging from this effort. In particular, we are concerned to insure that academic needs and priorities are represented and influential in the decisions that will have important long term impact on the campus environment.

Larry Gross, Chair


Almanac, Vol. 47, No. 2, September 5, 2000