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SENATE From the Senate Chair

The Faculty Senate Agenda 2002-2003

On behalf of the Faculty Senate, welcome back to Penn for the beginning of the new academic year! For those of you new to Penn, the Faculty Senate is the deliberative body and the voice of the Penn faculty. The Senate functions primarily through the Senate Executive Committee (SEC), an elected group which meets monthly, and through a number of committees. SEC's agenda and actions are published here in Almanac to solicit your feedback.

SEC also gives advice on current issues and problems facing the University through the frequent consultations that take place between the Senate leadership (the Chair-elect, Lance Donaldson-Evans; the Past Chair, David Hackney; and myself) and the President and the Provost. It is quite important to this dialogue that you keep SEC and its leadership informed of your own concerns and views; you can contact either your SEC constituency representatives or the Senate leadership directly by phone or e-mail. You can reach me by e-mail at or at (215) 898-2538.

The Faculty Senate and its leadership face a major change and challenge this fall. Executive Assistant Carolyn Burdon will be retiring, after running the Faculty Senate office for 31 years. Well beyond fulfilling her official duties keeping the Faculty Senate office running smoothly and her extended role in attempting to keep the annually changing Senate leadership on track, Ms. Burdon, though not a faculty member, was in many ways the heart and soul of the Faculty Senate. Her daily counsel and good advice will be missed. Kristine Kelly, who most recently worked in the President's office, will staff the Faculty Senate office.

This fall, SEC will consider a wide range of proposed policies. Key among these are new policies on retirement, on teaching evaluation, and several new policies on the appropriate and ethical conduct of research.

For the past two years, a Retirement Task Force appointed by the Provost has examined aspects of retirement which resulted from the elimination in 1994 of mandatory retirement at age 70 and from policies adopted then as a result of this uncapping. The final report of this committee, chaired by Associate Provost Barbara Lowery and Prof. Jerry Rosenbloom, was completed in the spring, and will appear in Almanac early this fall. I am asking the Senate Committee on Administration to study this report and to give SEC its evaluation. SEC's response as a whole will be forwarded back to the Task Force and to the Provost.

Two proposals dealing with the appropriate conduct of research have now been handed to SEC for comment. After some modification, a revision of Procedures Regarding Misconduct in Research was endorsed by the Senate Committee on Administration last spring, and then by SEC, contingent on a review by the Senate Committee on Academic Freedom and Responsibility (SCAFR). After review by SCAFR early this fall, it will be returned to SEC for final approval. The Provost has also forwarded to SEC a proposed policy which addresses conflict of interest for faculty participating in clinical trials, developed in consultation with the School of Medicine administration and faculty. It will be reviewed by the Senate Committee on Administration early this fall before being reviewed by SEC as a whole.

Two other policies regarding research are now taking shape within the University. Vice Provost for Research Neal Nathanson is now forming a committee to formulate policy on Institutional Conflict of Interest; he has kept the Faculty Senate leadership well informed during this process. A working group chaired by Annenberg School Deputy Dean Larry Gross has formulated a set of principles towards clarifying guidelines for the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for sociobehavioral research, published in this issue of Almanac. After a discussion of this study by SEC, Vice Provost Nathanson intends to charge a committee to formalize regulations for this IRB.

The final report of a faculty-administration Committee to Assess the Evaluation of Teaching, chaired by Deputy Provost Peter Conn and Prof. David Pope, was presented during the summer to the Provost and the Faculty Senate. I have asked the Senate Committee on Students and Educational Policy to study this report, and to advise SEC on what further actions we might take on the proposed recommendations it contains.

Last year, SEC passed a resolution strongly endorsing the recommendations of the joint faculty-administration Committee on Faculty Gender Equity chaired by Associate Provost Barbara Lowery and Prof. Phoebe Leboy, and endorsed additional vigorous actions within the University to maintain and further gender equity among the faculty. As a follow up to the work of that committee, President Judith Rodin, Provost Robert Barchi and then-Senate Chair David B. Hackney charged a joint faculty-administration Minority Equity Committee, chaired by Prof. John B. Jemmott, to undertake a systematic review of the status of minority faculty at the University. We hope to have a report from this committee this fall.

Beyond considering the wide range of proposed policy changes presented above, I am charging the Faculty Senate Committees with a range of additional charges that include:

  • investigating potential negative impacts of both proposed and implemented federal regulations following the events of September 11 on the University's dual roles of teaching and research, and proposing steps to ameliorate those impacts; investigating potential negative impacts of both proposed and implemented federal regulations following the events of September 11 on the University's dual roles of teaching and research, and proposing steps to ameliorate those impacts;
  • investigating the negative impacts of the skyrocketing cost of scholarly journals, and proposing steps that can be taken by the Faculty and University to ameliorate those impacts.

Other policies to be examined by Senate Committees and then by SEC include changes to faculty policies proposed last year by various of Penn's schools.

A tremendous level of faculty effort and thoughtfulness was required to produce the reports mentioned above. The willingness of the faculty to serve on committees that wrestle with difficult, sometimes contentious issues is a prerequisite to our University functioning as a living community of scholars and teachers. I look forward to working with you this year, as new issues move forward, and I will keep you informed throughout the year through Almanac. Have a productive and successful year!

See Faculty Senate Officers Elected for 2002-2003

Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 2, September 3, 2002


September 3, 2002
Volume 49 Number 2

Penn alumna Sadie Alexander's name will live on at the newly named preK-8 school.
Welcome Back: Messages From the President and From the Senate Chair.
Penn and Trammell Crow have terminated the arrangements they had for management and other services.
The Pottruck Health and Fitness Center opens with tours of the state-of-the-art recreation facility.
ISC unveils a new authentication system for better computer security--out with the PennNet IDs and in with the PennKeys.
Penn has lost eight members of the Penn community over the summer.
The Report of the Working Group on Human Subjects Research in the SocioBehavioral Sciences.
The updated, revised Three-Year Academic Calendar lets you look ahead to 2004-2005.
The Undergraduate Admissions seminars for Penn faculty and staff families are this week--the first one is at 5:15 p.m. today.
The September AT PENN calendar includes a list of the special 9/11 commemorative events that span from morning until evening across the campus.