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New Online Directory Coming:
New Features, Capabilities, and Privacy Rules

Penn’s Online Directory is undergoing a major facelift. Scheduled for release early in 2005, the new Directory will offer many new features and capabilities, among them richer information, separate views of information for external and University audiences, and a redesigned online updating utility available to students as well as faculty and staff. Behind the scenes, the Online Directory will share data with other systems, such as U@Penn and PennInTouch, thereby minimizing the need to update the same information in more than one place. You can view mockups of some of the new features at www.upenn.edu/computing/directory/preview.html.

Two Views of Directory information

One of the main goals of the Directory is to balance the privacy needs of individuals with the operational needs of the University­—to provide a useful set of information for faculty, staff, and students while allowing greater control over the release of personal data. These needs are balanced in the views mentioned above: the Penn View, which will offer more extensive information to authorized users (primarily current faculty, staff, and students) who must log in, and the Public View, which will display a subset of information to anyone searching the Directory.

New Privacy Rules for Faculty and Staff

Underlying the two views are amendments to the Directory privacy rules for faculty and staff in HR Policy 201. Developed by Penn Human Resources (HR) and the University’s Privacy Officer, in conjunction with ISC and a University-wide Privacy Committee, the rules specify that all faculty and staff must have a minimum listing in the Public and the Penn Views unless they have a compelling privacy or security concern that warrants exclusion from the Directory.

In the Penn View, the minimum information for faculty and staff includes name, School or organization, affiliation (faculty or staff), title (professor, director, etc.), a campus mailing address, a campus phone number, and a campus e-mail address. Importantly, faculty and staff can list their campus organization’s address, phone, and e-mail in lieu of their direct contact information. In the Public View, the minimum information includes only name and affiliation. Aside from the required information, faculty and staff will be able to add, delete, and change data in additional fields to provide a user-tailored listing in the Penn View and Public View. 

Faculty and staff currently suppressing their Directory listing will have the minimum information displayed in the new Directory unless they specifically request an exclusion or add additional information themselves. Faculty and staff who wish to be excluded from the Directory for security or privacy reasons will be able to submit a request for consideration by the Office of Audit, Compliance, and Privacy.

Privacy Changes for Students

Students are not required to have a minimum listing in either view, consistent with federal privacy law and Penn policy. They will, however, have easier and more detailed control over the data they do wish to share in both the Penn View and the Public View, and they will be able to exclude themselves from the Directory via the new updating utility rather than through the Registrar’s Office. Any privacy flags that apply in the current Directory will be carried over to the new Directory.

Views and Searching

A search in the new Directory will yield a table of results with an abbreviated listing for each name found. Selecting a particular name will open the detailed listing for that name. A search in the Public View will yield a maximum of 20 search results, while in the Penn View, authorized users will obtain all results that match their search criteria. Moreover, the data returned may provide more information than is available in the Public View.

Updating Capabilities

The Directory’s updating utility has been redesigned and expanded, enabling many new kinds of information to be entered and providing flexibility to display different information in each view. Selecting information for display is done on an easy-to-use tabbed Web form. Up to four phone numbers and four addresses can be shown, and annotations, such as office hours next to your office address, can be added. It’s even possible to add a name you are commonly known under if it’s different from your name of record. You’ll also be able to select data for display from U@Penn or PennInTouch, depending on your affiliation. For example, faculty and staff can select their Payroll mailing address and students can select their on-campus residence address.

An administrative feature has been added to allow selected staff appointed by School and departmental administration to update entries on behalf of others in their area. People wishing to maintain sole responsibility for their Directory information will still have the option to do so.

Preview Period and Rollout

Everyone will be given an opportunity to preview and edit their Directory listings before the new Directory goes live. For most people, the default information in their new listings will be the same information that displays in the current Directory, plus any additional information specified in the minimum requirements in the case of faculty and staff. Such additional information will be obtained from their records in University administrative systems.

Next Steps

The new Online Directory aims to make it easier for people within the University to communicate with each other and gives us all the ability to further protect our personal privacy.  In addition, future versions of the printed faculty and staff directory will be based upon information contained in the Penn View of the Online Directory. Watch for announcements about the Online Directory in the new year, including a University Notification e-mail advising you to preview your listing. In the meantime, if you have questions, please contact new_online_directory@isc.upenn.edu.

—Robin Beck, Vice President, Information Systems & Computing



  Almanac, Vol. 51, No. 15, December 14, 2004


December 14, 2004
Volume 51 Number 15


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