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 Larry Gross or Executive Assistant Carolyn Burdon, Box 12 College Hall/6303, (215) 898-6943 or

Actions Taken by the Senate Executive Committee

Wednesday, April 4, 2001

1. Chair's Report. Professor Gross reported that the April 3 Almanac contained the Slate of Senate Officers and Committee members for next year. If no nominations are received by petition April 17 the slate of candidates will be declared elected. Constituency members in constituencies holding elections this year (the odd-numbered constituencies) were encouraged to remind their colleagues to participate. Professor Gross noted that the 2001 SCUE White Paper that appeared in the April 3 Almanac contains matters of interest to the faculty, and it may come up for discussion later. The Task Force on Privacy of Personal Information chaired by Professor Gerald J. Porter will release its report shortly and this will be on the agenda of University Council April 18 and the Senate Executive Committee May 2. The report examines how student, faculty and staff personal information is used and what the University does to protect personal information.

2. Past Chair's Report on Academic Planning and Budget and Capital Council. Professor Phoebe Leboy reported that the Academic Planning and Budget Committee had met once since the last SEC meeting. A portion of the meeting was occupied with completing the discussion of the Graduate School of Fine Arts review, and the remainder was devoted to a report from Deputy Provost Peter Conn on planned changes in graduate education policy.

There were no scheduled meetings of Capital Council in the last month.

3. University Research Foundation Policies. Vice Provost for Research Neal Nathanson raised the matter of whether to publish the full membership of the Research Foundation Panels or only the names of the four chairs on the vice provost's web site. There is a desire for openness and transparency of the system. In contrast, there is reason to insulate panel. SEC supported publishing the names of the panel members on the Web site, with the recommendation that the panel membership be published in Almanac. SEC also endorsed posting a statement to accompany the membership lists instructing applicants to confine all inquiries to the Office of the Vice Provost for Research or the panel chair and to not contact committee members directly. Vice Provost Nathanson also recommended an annual exchange between SEC, the four Research Foundation panel chairs, and himself to insure distribution of expertise, appropriate representation across schools and departments, and the number of panel members needed. Professor Gross stated that in the meantime the Faculty Senate would continue to appoint two faculty members to each of the four panels.

4. Graduate Education Policy Changes. Deputy Provost Peter Conn outlined the changes that are underway for some of the 4,000 Ph.D. students: (1) the University will pay the health premium through the 6th year for some 1,100 full time, fully funded Ph.D. students: (2) the minimum Ph.D. stipend will be increased; (3) by September a Graduate Center for social and academic activities will open at the former Veranda; and (4) Summer stipend for two or three of the first three summers will be increased for Fontaine Fellows. Deputy Provost Conn also stated that teaching for Ph.D. students will become an official part of the doctoral programs in SAS, entailing mechanisms for supervision, oversight and evaluation. The provost is hoping to introduce this requirement in the other schools in the future. SEC members raised issues including: the relationship of the teaching component to the Pennsylvania English speaking standard for instructors; the tax implications of defining graduate student teaching as a requirement, the potential for unionization, and the request to share information on these policy changes with the schools.

5. Informal Discussion with President Rodin and Provost Barchi. At Professor Gross' request President Rodin touched on the graduate education policy changes. She stated that recruitment and retention of the best graduate-professional students is an important goal and that they are working on providing more resources to students and departments.

Regarding Study Abroad, President Rodin stated that the University strives to maintains the Penn level of quality and wants to ensure that students have a rich, significantly scholarly experience. Professor Gross proposed charging next year's Senate Committee on Students and Educational Policy to consider the questions raised by the Undergraduate Assembly resolution released April 2, 2001 ( The questions include program location restriction and assigning a grade adjusted to Penn grades. Professor Gross expects that the UA resolution would go to University Council later this month.

Provost Barchi announced that a review of disability services has been completed, a report has been submitted and accepted by the president and the administration is considering ways to implement the recommendations. Major issues are: the need for a centralized location under the vice provost for university life, expanded capabilities to accommodate the increased demand on the system, and the maintenance of an academic connection. One of the recommendations is to appoint a faculty disability liaison officer in each of the schools. Deputy Provost Conn stated that the faculty should play a key role and that faculty should be provided with information on their responsibilities but not become personal disability providers. A SEC member requested that faculty be provided with guidelines on dealing with cognitive disabilities, noting that this area requires confidentiality. The discussion illuminated the importance of educating students regarding the importance, as well as the legal requirement, of providing reasonable accommodation to students with certified disabilities. Deputy Provost Conn said that the University is now scheduling events that are open to all students in ADA accessible buildings.

6. Progress Report on Faculty Gender Equity Study. SEC member and Co-chair of the committee Phoebe Leboy reviewed the analysis thus far, outlining the initial findings regarding hiring and retention patterns of faculty across schools and departments. It is hoped the report will be completed in the fall.

Almanac, Vol. 47, No. 29, April 10, 2001