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Speaking Out

Constraints on Compensation

The Daily Pennsylvanian reported on September 10 that President Rodin's salary and bonus, not including benefits and expense account, went from $605,000 to $690,405 in FY01, an increase of more than 14%. Chairman Riepe says, "She's one of the outstanding university presidents in the country. We think she deserves to be among the best paid, so we're quite comfortable with her level of compensation being among the highest." Penn, it seems, is lucky to have her.

Any excellent leader will tell you that she doesn't do her job alone. An excellent leader achieves that status because she has excellent people working for her. Surely Penn has outstanding scientists, poets, historians, researchers, accountants, administrators, and even programmers, who are among the country's best. Yet none of these people gets 14% increases; they have to live with 2.9% or thereabouts because of budget constraints. It appears that the budget constraints which have been placed throughout the University don't apply at the top.

Something is wrong here. The administration, I think, will be the first to tell anyone that the quality of the faculty and staff here at Penn is excellent, perhaps the best anywhere. But unless we get raises accordingly, it's lip service and insincere. Anyone can toss around verbal praise, and it's important to get the occasional pat on the back, but if there's nothing to back it up, what does it mean? One wonders how President Rodin, an employee of this University, can, in good conscience, accept this kind of percentage increase when she knows that all the excellent people around her, also employees of this University, are ineligible for it no matter how well they perform.

In 1998, I wrote a similar letter to Almanac. The administration paid no attention but the Penn community sure did. I heard from many of you via phone and e-mail supporting my position. I ask those of you who believe as I do now to write to President Rodin and Chairman Riepe to tell them of your concern about these unfair conditions that are taking dollars that you have earned out of your pocket.

One hopes that there is strength in numbers and that they will, at long last, hear us.

    --Rick Wexler, Senior Programmer Analyst, Administrative Information Technologies, ISC

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Response from Chair of Trustees

The University devotes a tremendous amount of time and effort, with the assistance of outside compensation consultants, to ensure that compensation for all employees, including Dr. Rodin's, reflects the markets in which we compete, the resources we have available, the goals of the University, and individual performance. Due to market forces, pay ranges within the University vary across academic and administrative departments, job categories, as well as schools and centers. Market data on salaries paid at peer institutions, including Ivy League and other private teaching and research universities, is reviewed .

A Compensation Committee of the Trustees annually reviews the compensation of all senior officers and academics, and specifically sets the president's. The level of Dr. Rodin's compensation is a product of a number of factors, including the scale and complexity of the University, compensation levels at comparable institutions, and her and the University's performance compared to established goals. It is also important to note that, due to the Health System's unstable financial condition at the time, Dr. Rodin received no salary increase in FY'00.

If anything is clear in looking at competitive institutions and Penn's relative standing, it is that leadership makes a difference. During Dr. Rodin's tenure, Penn's academic rankings have risen, student selectivity has increased, research funding has greatly expanded, Penn's neighborhood revitalization efforts in West Philadelphia have accelerated, fundraising has broken records, and we have the strongest group of deans and faculty in my memory. Dr. Rodin's compensation recognizes these facts as well as the Trustees' continued confidence in her leadership.

Dr. Rodin's compensation is competitive, acknowledges her many accomplishments at Penn and reflects the Trustees' belief that she is one of this country's outstanding university leaders. We think Penn deserves no less.

-- James S. Riepe, Chairman Board of Trustees

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Safe-guarding Laboratories?

As the United States Government continues to worry of a terrorist organization getting their hands on bio-medical and radioactive material in order to produce a "dirty-bomb" that will harm or even kill people, the University of Pennsylvania continues to think that the security they provide is adequate enough to prevent thefts of dangerous, hazardous materials that can be used in a terrorist attack. The security arrangements at most facilities on the Penn campus are next to nothing, from CCTV systems that are outdated, and in most cases don't work at all, to security who are not trained enough to detect or prevent anyone from removing without any obstacles such dangerous materials.

Checking Penn I.D. cards of those who enter a building--by security, at buildings that contain bio-medical items to used radioactive waste that can be used along with an explosive device--is not enough! The University and its administration along with the Department of Public Safety better realize that terrorist "Sleeper-cells," already in the country need not steal this material from a highly guarded government plant but a University lab that has no security whatsoever can remove such materials from laboratories on this campus without any question whatsoever where the material is.

Can this University administration continue to operate with "Blinders" of "Sleeper-cells" to remove materials from unguarded labs and produce the feared, "Ultimate Bomb" to use against all of us in this City and above all: This Campus.

-- Charles F. King Jr., Facilities Service Employee

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Response from Public Safety

We appreciate your concern for the safety and security of the University Community. Let me assure you that the Division of Public Safety, in conjunction with the Vice Provost for University Research, the Office of Environmental Health and Radiation Safety, and the School of Medicine Security Department, continually review all laboratory security issues as part of the University Crisis Management Planning process.

Additionally, the Division of Public Safety, and the above-mentioned entities, also work closely with city, state, and federal regulators overseeing the safety and security of all laboratories across the University.

Again, thank you for your interest and be assured that the security of University laboratories is a top priority for the entire University administration.

-- Maureen S. Rush, Vice President for Public Safety

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Two Books and A Dolphin

Now that Penn has refurbished its logo, I wonder if someone could explain the meaning of the things that have not changed on the emblem. What is the significance of the two books and the dolphin?

I've asked a number of people and no one seems to know. I bet a lot of others would like to know.

-- Dan Romer, Senior Researcher/Fellow, Annenberg School for Communication

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The following response is courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania Archives website,

The Arms of the University

The arms of the University of Pennsylvania, approved in 1932 and adopted in 1933, may be regarded as a symbol of the University serving a decorative rather than a legal function. The arms memorialize two important influences in the founding of the University, Benjamin Franklin and the Penn family. The heraldic description is as follows: "In the chief, gules, two open books and a dolphin, argent; in the ground, argent, a chevron, azure, with three plates, argent."

This design includes the three plates of the Penn family arms and the dolphin of the Franklin shield. The open books denote an institution of learning. The colors of red (gules) and blue (azure) are believed to have been chosen originally by a student representing the University in a track meet held at Saratoga, New York, in 1874. These colors were adopted by the Athletic Association in 1876 for use by University teams and by the Trustees in 1895 for use on the academic hood worn by graduates of the University. When the Trustees in 1910 adopted a design for the University flag they specified that: "The colors shall conform to the present standards used by the United States Government in its flags." The Red and Blue of Pennsylvania are therefore officially the hues maintained in the national ensign.

Speaking Out welcomes reader contributions. Short, timely letters on University issues will be accepted by Thursday at noon for the following Tuesday's issue, subject to right-of-reply guidelines. Advance notice of intention to submit is appreciated. --Eds.

Almanac, Vol. 49, No. 5, September 24, 2002


September 24, 2002
Volume 49 Number 5

The Annenbergs enhance Penn's Annenberg School for Communication with a new $100 million endowment.
A Sesquicentennial Celebration--celebrating 150 years of Engineering at Penn, this week.
LGBT Center celebrates new home and 20th anniversary on Thursday.
A White House Town Hall Meeting on Securing Cyberspace will be held on campus next Thursday.
Alumna on Jeopardy! tonight.
Speaking Out: Compensation; Safe-guarding Labs, and Arms of University.
Pottruck Health and Fitness Center--a state-of-the-art facility--gives new meaning to recreation.