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COUNCIL 2000-2001 Year-end Committee Reports

The following reports were presented at Council last spring.
Final reports for Community Relations, Facilities, Personnel Benefits, Pluralism, Quality of Student Life, and Safety and Security, were given to
Almanac recently for publication.


Community Relations

May 11, 2001
Discussed at Council, April 25, 2001

(CLICK HERE for the reports of the subcommittees of the Community Relations Committee. )


The University Council Committee on Community Relations met eight times during the academic year 2000-2001. These meetings focused largely on the Charges, both general and specific, under which the Committee had been asked to conduct its work. Those charges were:

Standing Charge from the Council Bylaws (amended April 26, 2000):

The Committee on Community Relations shall advise on the relationship of the University to the surrounding community. It shall advise the Council and help make policy with respect to the community. It shall work with the Office of Community Relations to assure that the University develops and maintains a constructive relationship with the community. The chair of the committee shall have cognizance of pending real estate activities of concern to the community. The chair along with the director of community relations shall meet quarterly or more often, if needed, with the executive vice president or his or her designee for real estate to be informed of impending real estate activities that affect the community. They shall, with discretion, discuss relevant cases with the Committee, and may inform the community as the need arises. The Committee shall consist of eight faculty members, four A-1 staff members, two A-3 staff members, two graduate/professional students, and two undergraduates. At least three members shall reside in West Philadelphia. The executive vice president or his or her designee, the directors of recreation, community relations, the Annenberg Center, and the African-American Resource Center, the manager of WXPN-FM, and the directors of the Center for Community Partnerships, Civic House, and Community Housing shall be non-voting ex officio members of the Committee.

Specific Charges for 2000-2001 (June 20, 2000):

  1. Develop more formal relationships between this committee and Penn Faculty and Staff for Neighborhood Issues (PFSNI), making use of the PFSNI listserv.
  2. Explore making a joint effort with the Office of Vice President for Government, Community, and Public Affairs to share information and resources.
  3. Continue to maintain oversight of the University's impact on the community, giving special attention to real estate developments and transactions, and the planned preK-8 school at the former Divinity School site.
  4. Assess formal contacts with the Center for Community Partnerships and the Office of City and Community Relations.

Members agreed that the broadness of the charges and the lack of direction about what constitutes "Community" seriously hamper the Committee. Over the year, we gained considerable clarity about what this Committee can and cannot reasonably do. We also determined that a number of the charges have been, or are being, addressed by other organizations on campus, thus making our attention to them a duplication of effort. The Committee was, however, able to identify a core problem that none of the existing mechanisms on campus is able to address adequately. That problem is communication, broadly speaking. From the first meeting, when many members raised concerns about this issue, until the last general discussion, in which we proposed scenarios for prompting actual solutions, we became ever clearer about our role as a recommending and coordinating body that can intervene best in advisory fashion, rather than a body that takes on the work of orchestrating and assessing the University's many relations with and impacts upon the Community. We believe that the Committee needs either to have a much more limited focus in subsequent years, with a new and reduced charge as suggested below, or needs to be eliminated, as per the suggestions in the Subcommittee on Charges report here appended.

Our Discussions

Each year the committee struggles with the question of its own make-up and mission (see annual reports for 1995-96, 1997-98, and recommendation #6, 1998-99) and this year was no different. A Subcommittee on Charges, established in December with Chair Daniel Bogen and members Jeanne Arnold and Richard Womer, attempted to craft new charges, but concluded that specific charges would not alleviate the underlying problem of the standing charge. The Subcommittee recommended elimination of the Committee with such conviction that we urge due attention be given to this matter.

At the first meeting, Committee members discussed the state of affairs with respect to community relations. Special attention was drawn to student, particularly undergraduate, perceptions of the West Philadelphia Community. Students may hold stereotypes about the neighborhood and its residents, which need to be countered both by better dissemination of information and by increased student involvement in community-based academics and service. At later meetings, we noted the fact that the University is not necessarily even successful at apprising the faculty of the range of community relations activities in which it is engaged. Multiple activities of academically-based community service, traditional direct service programs, and community development, including the disposition of real estate, all go on, but when an individual has a concrete question about who is providing which services, or where specific links to the Community are located, the answer is often hard to find.

At its earliest meeting, the Committee also raised the question of how the activities of the University are perceived by various Communities. Members of the Committee who reside locally are well aware that suspicion of the University's motives, however unfounded, continues to exist in the broader Community. The Subcommittee on Perceptions, instituted last year with members Karlene Burrell-McRae, Jody Kolodzey, Klaus Krippendorff, and Brian Spooner, was empowered to continue its efforts (see the appended Subcommittee on Perceptions report).

Early on, the Committee determined that it would not attempt to arrange briefings on various programs and projects in which the University is involved, as has been done in the past. While a series of briefings would leave the Committee better informed, it would not of itself produce any improvement in the basic issue of how faculty and students at large become aware either of what is happening with respect to various community initiatives, or the perceptions of different constituencies.

Similarly, after consideration of the possibility of inviting community representatives to this Committee to air their concerns, it was decided that such invitations would potentially raise more problems than they could solve. First, such hearings would never be more than partial introductions to community concerns and perceptions. In addition, the representatives so invited might misconstrue the role of this Committee.

The Committee did receive an update on the Five Neighborhood Initiatives (Clean and Safe; Retail; Community Economic Development; Housing; Schools and Public Education) from Director Glenn Bryan of the Office of City and Community Relations, who subsequently kept the Committee apprised of developing situations in the University-Community relationship. A briefing on the Partnership for Quality Housing Choices in University City was given by Managing Director for Institutional Real Estate Tom Lussenhop, at which members raised the question of whether Section Eight residents would be able to reside in rental units acquired by the Partnership. The answer was positive. The Chair attended monthly First Thursday Community meetings hosted by the Office of Vice President for Government, Community, and Public Affairs. We agreed to review the new Community Service Directory being produced by the Center for Community Partnerships. The third meeting of spring was held in conjunction with the Center for Community Partnership's International Conference on Higher Education Civic Engagement.

A major theme of deliberations in the Committee was the process and protocol of University-Community relations. The Committee is extremely interested in the question of how things are done at the University: who is consulted when a new Community-based initiative is proposed, how the needs and interests of the Community are gauged, how the University ensures positive engagement, and how the impact on the Community is finally assessed. Similar questions have been raised in 1995-96 and 1996-97. The fact that this Committee itself is not always consulted when appropriate was raised in the 1997-98 report. A suggestion that we investigate any recent engagement that has run into bumpy patches, such as the Neighborhood PreK-8 Penn-assisted School, never got off the ground. A proposal was made instead to focus on successful engagements, with an eye toward discovering what participants did right, resulting in the passage of this motion, offered by Professor Lois Evans:

I move that the Community Relations Committee identify, describe, analyze and publicize for possible emulation ‘successful models of community-academic partnerships' from among the schools, institutes, centers and other organizational units at Penn.

The Subcommittee on Successful Models of University-Community Initiatives, authorized upon passage of the motion, gathered information and met to determine procedures for this review. Their focus was on establishing principles for community-academic partnerships and university-community initiatives. This effort led to an understanding that the Committee itself is not able to accomplish such a task, nor is its proper role to do so. The groundwork this Subcommittee laid can be the basis for work that we will recommend. (Similar recommendations were made in 1996-97 and 1997-98). Subcommittee members were Lisa Lord (Chair), Glenn Bryan, Lois Evans, David Grossman, Michael Rose, Joann Weeks, and Stefany Williams-Jones.

Progress on Last Year's Recommendations

Last year's Committee report suggested that ties with Penn Faculty and Staff for Neighborhood Issues be strengthened. We planned to bring in a representative of the PFSNI group, but this did not occur. PFSNI is undergoing its own restructuring at present.

The report suggested that the role of WXPN in conveying information about Community Relations initiatives be explored. The Chair had a meeting with WXPN Manager Vinnie Curren and Al Fireis, Chair of the WXPN Policy Board, and learned of the constitutional constraints that make it inappropriate and counterproductive for WXPN to do more in this area than it presently is.

Progress on all other recommendations--several of which in essence have been recommended before, and which come up again in this report--was hindered by the need to discuss the charges.


The important issues for future attention that the Committee identified are the flow of communication (comprehensibility), the flow of consultation (protocol), and the principles of interaction that govern Community-University relations. We urge that next year's charges be limited in a manner that will allow action.

Recommendations to University Council:

  1. We recommend that the presently formulated Committee on Community Relations, as defined by the Standing Charge to that committee, be eliminated.
  2. The Committee wishes to state for the record that the vast number of projects through which the University works with Communities is currently beyond the comprehension of anyone. This incomprehensibility is the basic issue that has to be addressed by any Committee on Community Relations.
  3. There is also no adequate means by which the perceptions of the Community concerning the University can be judged, nor by which any misperceptions that arise can be countered. Incomprehensibility reigns here as well. The University should attend seriously to this issue; before conducting any survey or focus groups, however, we should explore the perception of these tools, which are themselves sometimes viewed negatively.
  4. The Committee on Community Relations should be restructured to focus on communication about community relations between and among the University, Communities, faculty, and students. It should deal with the manner in which projects get started, reviewing them prospectively and monitoring compliance with established principles. The Committee should no longer be asked to evaluate large-scale situations, although the Committee should recommend evaluations be undertaken by groups with appropriate skills and resources as necessary.
  5. At present, it is entirely possible for different organs of the University to operate on projects that involve Community independently of each other, without cognizance of other ongoing contacts with the Community. The Committee should develop protocols for communication across the University on all projects that involve outreach from campus or that have an impact on the Community. These protocols should mandate the avenues of consultation to be followed by all University representatives, whether administration, faculty, or students, when interacting with the Community, so as to ensure mutually beneficial interactions. Said protocols should also clarify when this Committee is to be consulted in the course of such endeavors. Council should consider making monitoring of compliance with these protocols a function of this committee.
  6. The Committee recommends the establishment of a group with appropriate professional skills to continue the work of the Subcommittee on Successful Models of University-Community Initiatives. Such a group would establish principles for the conduct of Community-University partnerships, based on an analysis of past successful efforts. These principles will be reviewed by the Committee and disseminated to the University. The group may also wish to recommend the establishment of an award to recognize excellence in this area.

Recommendations for Next Year's Committee:

The Committee has to be mindful of the difference between suggesting work and doing the work they suggest. The Committee does not have to do each thing it asks for, since it is empowered to advise the Council and the Office of City and Community Relations.

  1. The Committee should review the new Community Service Directory being produced by the Center for Community Partnerships. This should not require much effort, since it has been done before (1996-1997).
  2. Documents in place and systems of notification regarding Community projects need to be reviewed by this Committee as part of the development of protocols. Existing protocols should be collected from relevant offices. Protocols should be top priority, and every effort should be made to complete them in 2001-2002. Monitoring compliance with various standards has been suggested by the Committee in the past, and should be recommended again.
  3. A six-month timeline is suggested for the study of successful models by a newly created entity. Based on their report to the Committee, principles should be presented at the end of 2002-2003.
  4. The office of the General Counsel of the University should be consulted as the protocols and principles take shape.

--Linda H. Chance, Chair

2000-2001 Council Committee on Community Relations

Chair: Linda Chance (Asian & Middle Eastern Studies). Faculty: Lois Evans (Nursing), Daniel Bogen (Bioengineering), Ann Farnsworth-Alvear (History), Lyn Harper-Mozley (Psychiatry), Richard Womer (Pediatrics). Graduate/Professional Students: Sharon Etenberg, Kyle Farley, John Barrett. Undergraduate Students: Alexandra Minkovich, Beth Rapaport. PPSA: Karlene Burrell-McRae (Greenfield Intercultural Center), Jody Kolodzey (Development and Alumni Relations), Lisa Lord (Wharton Real Estate). A-3: Karen Pickney (Medical School Facilities). Ex-officio: Jeanne Arnold (African American Resource Center), Glenn Bryan (City and Community Relations), Vincent Curren (WXPN), Michael Diorka (Recreation), David Grossman (Civic House), Michael Rose (Annenberg Center for Performing Arts), Stefany Williams-Jones (Office of Community Housing), Tram Nguyen (Secretary). Leah Glickman. (New) Non-attending members: Namrata Narain (Biomedical Graduate Studies), Regina Cantave (ISC), Ira Harkavy (Community Partnerships), Jack Shannon (Economic Development)

(CLICK HERE for the reports of the subcommittees of the Community Relations Committee. )

Almanac, Vol. 48, No. 6, October 2, 2001


October 2, 2001
Volume 48 Number 6

Dr. Lerman appointed associate director for Cancer Control and Population Science and director of the Tobacco Research program at the Leonard & Madlyn Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute
$2.1 million grant to introduce advanced security features into standard office PCs.
Dennis DeTurck, Srilata Gangulee and Alton Strange will serve the Colleges Houses this year.
The new director for public serves at the Library is Sandra Kerbel.
Wharton as appointed Steven Oliveira as associate dean for External Affairs.
UCD has announced it's new executive director.
Deadlines are announced for Pilot and Feasibility Grants, Trustees' Council Grants, Robert Bosch Fellowships and Luce Scholars Program
Year-end Council reports: Community Relations; Facilities; Personnel Benefits; Pluralism; Quality of Student Life; and Safety and Security.
A new Temporary Staffing Services has a new vendor; EHRS has Training for October and Annual Tuberculosis Screening is now available.
Steinhardt Hall, the new Hillel Center breaks ground.