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

Actions Taken by the Senate Executive Committee
Wednesday, January 16, 2002

1. Chair's Report.

Professor David Hackney reported that the Gender Equity Report had been referred to the Senate Committee on the Faculty for review. The Minority Equity Committee has been charged. The Senate chairs met with the Vice Provost for Research regarding the Center for Technology Transfer. They are considering a committee to review the technology transfer process, services provided by the CTT, costs of CTT and patent policy. Penn is working to comply with a requirement that it track its students and emplyees who are there on visas. There have been no requests for information from the University that might compromise student privacy. Professor Hackney noted a recent alochol survey that reported that although overall binge drinking by students is down significantly there remain groups with a high rate. Athletes who are in fraternities have rates 19 times as high as others. Drinking at Penn is down but problems are concentrated in a few sorts. The Provost is working with the Athletic Department and coaches to address problems.

2. March Meeting.

SEC cancelled the March 13 meeting and rescheduled it for March 20 at 3 p.m.

3. Past Chair's Report on Academic Planning and Budget Committee and Capital Council.

Professor Gerald Porter reported that there had been one meeting of Academic Planning and Budget since the last SEC meeting that he was unable to attend.

Capital Council has held no meetings since the last SEC meeting.

4. Election of Committees.

SEC voted on candidates for the Senate Nominating Committee Chair (at right), the Senate Committee on Committees and faculty members of the Council Committee on Commitees.

5. Informal Discussion with Provost Robert Barchi.

Professor Hackney outlined the questions on the economic status of the faculty that he had asked the Provost to cover. A SEC member inquired whether the financial status of the Health System influenced the need for an increase in health insurance rates, and whether changes in health plan design could improve the status of UPHS. An extended discussion ensued. The Provost stated that there was no relationship between increases in health plan rates and the financial status of the Health System. He reported that the Health System was in the black last year, but that it will not be able to retire its large debt for many years. Health benefit costs are rising across the country. He noted that continually rising costs of prescriptions are the largest contributors to these increases. Hospital costs are only up slightly and physician fees are flat. Associate Provost Barbara Lowery spoke to the need for the University to contain these costs and provide affordable health benefit options that will work for those who are covered by the plans. The administration has been working with the University Council Committee on Personnel Benefits, chaired by Professor Gerald Porter. The committee has been reviewing options for change and the decision will be announced to the University community in a few months. Professor Porter noted that 25% of the University community is taking maintenance drugs. He added that people request the newest drugs and that is driving up costs. A SEC member requested that in the event the health care plans change and require more pre-approval for procedures that the community be provided with a list of all procedures that would require pre-approval to inform them in selecting a plan. Professor Hackney suggested that Associate Provost Lowery return to SEC to continue the discussion.

A SEC member inquired about the high salaries of some administrators that far exceed salaries of most professors and the provost. Provost Barchi said it is a condition of the competitive marketplace and the difficulty in hiring and retaining the top individuals for an academic setting. Although less dramatic, there are also wide variations in faculty salaries by field, and among different schools. This is the case at our peer universities as well.

Attention turned to the economic status of the faculty. Provost Barchi reminded SEC of the several studies now carried out by his office, including a study done every five years of salary distribution in rank by department. In this review they identify outliers at the high and low ends of the distribution. These are reviewed by the deans to ensure that salaries are appropriate, or to make corrections if necessary. The Provost also reviews all faculty raises annually and the deans are required to provide documentation and justification of raises outside the guideline range for salary increases. The Senate Committee on the Economic Status of the Faculty (SCESF), working with the Provost's office prepares an analysis of 5-year raises versus Consumer Price Index increases in the same five years. This identifies classes of faculty members who have received cumulative raises below the CPI over this period of time. Although the SCESF does not review salary data for individuals, the Provost's office provides the deans with historic salary data on individuals, so that the deans can ensure that the cumulative effect of annual salary decisions is appropriate. SEC members pointed out that many faculty have no information about the basis for salary decisions made by their department chair. The Provost emphasized that faculty should get an annual letter containing feedback on their performance during the year, and the rationale for the salary increase they receive. It was suggested that the Senate Committee on the Economic Status of the Faculty undertake a survey of the deans to determine their practices in providing faculty with specific feedback on performance and its relationship to salary actions. The Provost noted that there is always a range of faculty performance, with most in the middle, but some far above or below the expected standards. For this reason, he has instructed the deans that salary increases should reflect performance, and that a uniform raise for all faculty members in a division is rarely, if ever, appropriate.

In response to Professor Hackney's request Provost Barchi turned to an update on the Strategic Planning Process. The Provost recalled that one year ago he met with the Academic Planning and Budget Committee and the Council of Undergraduate Deans to formulate an outline of directions. In September 2001 fourteen committees were established to consider and revise sections of the outline. He has been meeting with the committee chairs weekly and they are close to a final draft. An Open Forum on the Strategic Plan is scheduled for January 28 at 4 p.m. in 200 College Hall. Community input will be considered and the plan will go to the Trustees in February. Over several months the plan will be costed out, tied to the 5-year budget cycle and the capital plan, prioritized and a fund-raising plan will begin.

Almanac, Vol. 48, No. 19, January 22, 2002


January 22, 2002
Volume 48 Number 19

In a message to the University community, President Judith Rodin notes that Penn must "take corrective steps now if we want to maintain a balanced budget."
Dr. Dawn Bonnell has been named Trustee Term Professor of Materials Science and Engineering.
Dr. Gary Molander has been named the Allan Day Term Professor.
Dr. Virginia Richards has been named the Kahn Term Professor.
An update on BEN Financials' first two weeks in operation includes a new Advisories web page for users.
The Division of Public Safety's Advisory Board seeks the input of the University community on their recommendations for expanding the PENNCard policy.
Interested in finding out about HERS, the summer institute for women in higher education? Two information sessions will provide the details. now contains a free on-line clinical trial match and referral service for patients who are attempting to locate all available treatment options.