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SENATE From the Senate Office

Actions Taken by the
Senate Executive Committee

Wednesday, October 31, 2001

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

1. Chair's Report. Professor David Hackney announced that the Gender Equity Report was not yet completed, but that it would be completed soon. In addition, the Retirement Task Force continues to work on its assignment to study the general issue of faculty retirement, and to explore ways of encouraging older faculty members to retire. They have a number of interesting ideas, he said, but they are still developing them and they need to obtain more data. Finally, a Minority Equity Committee has been constituted, with an assignment that is analogous to that of the Gender Equity Committee.

2. Draft Report of the 2000-2001 Senate Committee on the Economic Status of the Faculty. Professor Ed Boe presented the Draft Report, which addresses both salary levels and salary increases. It compares these figures with external data regarding other institutions, and also measures their variability within the University. A principal conclusion of the comparative analysis is that Penn is competitive with the highest paying universities in the United States. Certain departments are less competitive, however, and assistant professors' salaries are somewhat less competitive than those of full professors. In both cases, however, the situation is gradually improving. Variability within Penn involves differences among ranks, differences among schools or departments and differences among individuals. The differences among schools seems to be driven largely by market forces. Differences among individuals are based largely on merit. Professor Boe then reported that the Committee on the Economic Status of the Faculty has recommended that priority be placed on improving faculty salaries that have fallen below competitive levels. This same recommendation was advanced last year, and there has been some improvement since then.

SEC discussion centered on two issues. First, there was concern that the effort to increase the competitiveness of assistant professors' salaries, though desirable, would lead to compression of the salary scale for the faculty as a whole. Second, there was concern about the significant number of faculty, thirteen percent among full professors, whose cumulative salary increases over a period of years were lower than the increase in the Consumer Price Index for that period.

SEC voted by acclamation to accept the annual report. It will now be forwarded to the Provost.

3. Discussion of Institutional Review Boards and Social Science Research. Vice Provost for Research Neal Nathanson stated that his office and the Faculty Senate have jointly established a Working Group, chaired by Professors Larry Gross and Hans Van Dongen, to provide guidelines for the newly-established Institutional Review Board (IRB) on the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Professor Gross explained that universities are mandated by federal law to establish institutional review boards to approve all experiments on human beings carried out by faculty or students. While this requirement is well understood by those working in the natural sciences, it has caused a variety of problems in the social sciences. Not all social scientists are aware of the requirements, and the review provided by the existing IRBs was frequently inappropriate for social science. The purpose of the new IRB is to provide review that is performed by people who are knowledgeable about social science and who are applying appropriate standards. Under such standards, Professor Gross explained that much social science research will be placed in the exempt category. This does not mean that the research has not been reviewed, but rather than it has been reviewed and placed in the exempt category, as opposed to the expedited review or full review categories. Even when expedited or full review is required, such review should be carried out by people who fully understand the field and the nature of the research. This will make the review process more efficient and avoid the current situation where some permissible research is disallowed because it is not fully understood or is being reviewed according to natural science standards. The Working Group's aspiration is to develop standards that will guide the IRB, and provide training for faculty members who rotate through it. These faculty members will then be able to communicate the standards to their students, so that these standards will ultimately become part of the university culture. Subsequent SEC discussion noted that many classic social science experiments would not be permitted under the review procedures, even if these procedures were tailored to social science in the manner suggested. Professor Gross acknowledged that this is the case, but said that it was the result intended by the federal requirements.

4. Discussion of Campus Safety and Security. Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush reported that there have been encouraging declines in crime rates in the campus area during the past four years. Comparing the year 2000 with 1996, all crimes are down 33%, robberies are down 64%, burglary 19%, auto theft 68%, and theft from cars 38%. Preliminary figures for the year 2001 indicate a further 25% decrease over the previous year.

Some of the reasons for this decline in crime are that the Division of Public Safety has been reorganized and expanded to combat crime more effectively. Improved working relationships have been established with the Philadelphia Police Department and with the Allied-SpectaGuard security officers. As a result of the Police Department's relationship with the Division of Public Safety, Penn Police are now the primary investigators for robberies within their area of jurisdiction. Thus, instead of waiting in a City of Philadelphia police station to report a crime, victims can be interviewed on campus, and without a wait. The Allied-SpectaGuard officers have been largely merged with the University City District Safety Ambassadors. This has facilitated an increase in bike patrols and walking escorts throughout the District. In addition, a motorist assist program has been instituted, in which safety officers respond rapidly to people whose cars have broken down to prevent their being victimized by crime.

With respect to homeland security issues, the Penn Police have received 45 calls regarding suspicious packages or substances. A protocol has been developed for responding to such calls. Two police officers and a supervisor are dispatched in response to every call. After isolating and securing the area, these officers determine whether there is any risk; if there is a possibility that an explosive or a biohazard is present, the officers are able to call in the Philadelphia Police Department's bomb control unit, the City of Philadelphia's Rapid Assessment Team (an inter-agency group) or the FBI. At present, none of the calls have related to real risks, but Vice President Rush encouraged members of the campus community to continue reporting anything that appears to be suspicious.

Almanac, Vol. 48, No. 11, November 6, 2001


November 6, 2001
Volume 48 Number 11

The Packard Foundation awards a fellowship to Dr. Max Tegmark of physics and astronomy.
Dr. Antonio Merlo is named director of the Penn Institute for Economic Research.
Dr. Jean Howard has been named the Catherine Bryson Professor.
Dr. Sheila Murnaghan has been named the Alfred Reginald Allen Memorial Professor in Greek.
A special section of Knowledge@Wharton, a Wharton web site, provides Survival Strategies for the Post -Attack Economy.
The University Council meets on Wednesday for the annual reports on the State of the University.
The Trustees approve resolutions and report on finances, facilities, external affairs, neighborhood initiatives, investments and more at their fall meetings.
The Code of Conduct for Penn Apparel Licensees is republished in accordance with its obligation for public accountability.
Respecting intellectual property rights is a responsibility taken seriously by Penn; allegations and infringements are investigated.
A Commitment to Our Community is the theme of the Penn's Way 2002 workplace charitable campaign which has a goal of raising $400,000.