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University Council Meeting Coverage

Last Wednesday, at the University Council’s  final meeting of the spring semester, the agenda was so packed that the acting moderator Dr. Lance Donaldson-Evans, dispensed with the updates to Status Reports. The reports can be read online at www.upenn.edu/secretary/council/StatusReports0503.html.

On behalf of Council’s Steering Committee, Senate Chair Dr. Neville Strumpf presented the background and status of the proposed revisions to the Council Bylaws that she said represented a year of work and a consensus that was reached by Steering last month. She said that subsequently, Steering learned of some concerns that the UA had with certain aspects of the revisions. Rachel Fersh, outgoing UA chair, presented three amendments to the proposed revisions during the Council meeting. After discussion about each of them, Council members voted against all three amendments but ultimately voted overwhelmingly in favor of proposed revisions that will reduce the number of standing committees of Council from 13 to six. Under the new structure, the scope of subcommittees is expanded, to provide flexibility.

President Gutmann praised Dr. Jerry Porter, professor of mathematics, calling him “an exemplary University citizen” who is about to become an emeritus professor. He then presented a report, as chair of the Social Responsibility Advisory Committee (SRAC), on University Policies on Investing in the Sudan. Though not a Council Committee, SRAC advises the President and the Trustee Proxy Voting Subcommittee with respect to social and environmental issues. President Gutmann proposed two criteria should be met for a University to take a stance: if the situation is really evil and if there is a broad consensus in the community. After a discussion, with various constituencies weighing in, it was clear that the genocide in the Sudan met both criteria. Council members wholeheartedly indicated their support of the SRAC stance—to not invest in companies doing business in the Sudan. The President said she would bring this sense to the Trustees although she pointed out that it would be their decision. However, she also noted that Penn does not hold shares in its portfolio that have any direct involvement in the Sudan.

Provost Ron Daniels and EVP Craig Carnaroli presented an illustrated update on the Campus Development Plan, which will be brought before the full Board of Trustees in June. The slides  presented to Council showed maps and  renderings of the proposed research and teaching facilities that would be built over the coming decades, along with additional student housing, including a College House on Hill Field—where 80 percent of the green space would be retained, and graduate student housing at the eastern gateway to the new part of campus. Other features include enhanced open spaces for passive and active recreation with ‘integrated connections’ extending the feel of Locust Walk, Smith Walk and Blanche Levy Park to the eastern edge of the soon-to-be acquired postal property. Retail and other amenities, such as childcare, student activities space and performing arts spaces were included in the long-range plan that President Gutmann called a “once in a century opportunity.” Mr. Carnaroli reminded Council that there is a Child Care Survey (Almanac May 2, 2006) being done and encouraged participation.

The Open Forum portion of the meeting was compressed due to the time constraints. An interdisciplinary student group, Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM) said the Penn group is one of about two-dozen groups at universities who want to make prescription drugs available to poor countries, to help the public health of the global community.  The second topic concerned a reevaluation of the ban on post-season play for Ivy League football teams.



  Almanac, Vol. 52, No. 33, May 9, 2006


May 9, 2006
Volume 52 Number 33


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