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COUNCIL Coverage

After President Judith Rodin called last week's University Council meeting to order she turned the meeting over to the moderator, Dr. Larry Gross who wished everyone "Happy 2K2." The minutes from the December meeting were approved. President Rodin then called attention to the "significant Chemistry Department event" (see story HERE). GAPSA Chair Christopher Leahy announced that eleven grad student fellows were hired for the Graduate Student Center, an increase of five from last semester. Dr. Gross introduced Pedro Ramos, vice president and chief of staff (Almanac December 4, 2001).

Dr. Barbara Lowery and Dr. Phoebe Leboy presented the Report on Faculty Gender Equity Study (Almanac December 4, 2001) which they characterized as a "mixed report" since there are "some good things happening and some areas where a lot needs to be done." Provost Robert Barchi summarized the administration's reply to the report, noting that there are departmental level problems and that Gender Equity will be addressed in the new Strategic Plan. In response to a question about mentoring, Dr. Leboy said that it is a faculty-based initiative which is difficult to mandate. She concluded by noting that all the Tables in the Report are available online at Almanac's website.

Dr. David Smith, chair of the Committee on Communications, presented a report to Council of the Findings from a One-Year Review of the Policy on Privacy in the Electronic Environment (to be published in the next issue of Almanac). The Policy defines specific circumstances under which electronic records may be reviewed and by whom. The Committee recommends that while the Policy be continued as-is, without revision at this time, another review should be scheduled for 2004. The Policy, which was initially in effect for a one-year trial period (Almanac September 19, 2000) has been extended.

A lengthy follow-up on the Report of the Task Force on Privacy of Personal Information (Almanac April 17, 2001) was provided by some of those who have been involved in implementing the 17 Recommendations outlined last spring. Vice President for ISC Robin Beck reported that the use of social security numbers has been eliminated in many of the student records databases as well as in the payroll system. PENNInTouch still uses the S.S. # as an identifier but it does not show up on the screen. She said Penn is fully compliant with recommendation # 11 which said, "access to social security numbers should be provided only for those applications where their use is mandated by law." The Task Force is revising how directory information is used (recommendation # 13). Vice President for HR Jack Heuer, said that employees in Human Resources sign a confidentiality statement annually to ensure data integrity. He said that Penn is working with Independence Blue Cross to have social security numbers removed from the Keystone health insurance cards. Deputy Provost Peter Conn said that an ad hoc group has been meeting monthly to pursue the numerous recommendations. He said that they are working toward the appointment of a Chief Privacy Officer to coordinate University-wide compliance. Dr. Jerry Porter said Penn is "out in front of the curve" but more should be done. He suggested lobbying legislators to prohibit the sale of social security numbers.

On the issue of privacy Dr. Gross put things in perspective, quipping "so the message is, when you have e-mail with somebody, you're having e-mail with everyone they've had e-mail with."

Almanac, Vol. 48, No. 20, January 29, 2002


January 29, 2002
Volume 48 Number 20

A celebration of Chemistry's claim to fame puts the spotlight on six Nobel laureates who have been affiliated with Penn's proud Chemistry Department.
A memorial service for Dr. Jonathan Rhoads will be held next week.
A memorial fund for Dr. Alvin Rubinstein will support excellence in teaching by a graduate student in political science.
The newly appointed Minority Equity Committee begins its work this semester.
The W-2 Form for 2001 is dissected, box by box.
February AT PENN, a musical month.