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COUNCIL 2005-2006 Year-End Report
October 24, 2006, Volume 53, No. 9
Committee on Pluralism

Minority Equity Report
Report on the USCAR Resolution

General Charge

The Committee on Pluralism shall advise the offices of the President, Provost, the Executive Vice President, and the Vice Provost for University Life on ways to develop and maintain a supportive atmosphere on campus for the inclusion and appreciation of pluralism among all members of the University community. The Committee will also address specific diversity issues that may arise on campus. The Committee shall consist of eight faculty members, two representatives of the Penn Professional Staff Assembly, three representatives of the Weekly-Paid Professional Staff Assembly, three graduate/professional students, and three undergraduate students, with due regard for appropriate diversity. The Chaplain, directors of the Penn Women’s Center, the African-American Resource Center, the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center, the Office of Affirmative Action, and the Greenfield Intercultural Center shall be non-voting ex-officio members of the Committee.

Academic Year 2005-2006 Specific Charge

1. Evaluate the existing general charge of the committee for appropriateness and feasibility of the Committee, as well as the constituencies represented in its membership, as defined in the Bylaws of the University Council.

2. Investigate the function of the Committee, its utility, competing or complementary overlaps with other bodies in the University, and obstacles to fulfilling the general charge, and make recommendations regarding the future of the committee.

3. Review the report of the Committee for 2004-05 and provide an update on progress (or not) and necessary future actions.

4. Review and comment on the Minority Equity Report of April 19, 2005, especially noting issues related to minority retention.

5. Work closely with the Provost’s Office on the identification of a plan for sustained ways to improve campus climate regarding diversity, pluralism, and related issues.

6. Monitor the recent SEC and Council resolutions regarding the Proposal for the United States Culture Analysis Requirement (USCAR).

Actions in 2005-2006

The Committee met five times this year.

Five Subcommittees were established at the first meeting of the year.

A Campus Climate Subcommittee invited the Provost and the Vice President of Public Safety to meet with the Pluralism Committee. It met with the Director of Institutional Research, who joined the Subcommittee in a meeting with campus climate assessment specialist, Susan Rankin. The Subcommittee supported the efforts by its member, Camille Charles to survey undergraduates regarding their experiences on campus. Recommendations regarding the development of annual surveys of the University Community were forwarded to the Provost.

A Subcommittee on the Minority Equity Report was established. This Subcommittee met three times, once with Dr. Tukufu Zuberi, co-chair of the Minority Equity Committee. The Subcommittee produced an evaluative report with a set of recommendations that is appended to this report.

A Subcommittee was established to follow up on the USCAR Resolution passed by Council. The Subcommittee met twice. Its work was focused primarily on the design and evaluation of a survey of the Deans of the 12 schools at the University. The report and recommendation from the Subcommittee is appended to this report (below).

A Subcommittee on Social Interaction met twice during the year. Its work was focused on the design of a survey of campus organizations and activities that might provide additional models for programs under the auspices of the Vice Provost for University Life. The number and quality of responses received did not support the development of any recommendations.

A Subcommittee on the Future of the Pluralism Committee met once during the year. Its report formed the basis of a report to the Council regarding appropriate charges and responsibilities of the Committee.

Suggested Charges for the next year:

1. Initiate campus discussion on the goals of the USCAR Proposal in advance of next year’s survey of the Deans. Produce and distribute an evaluation of progress toward these goals.

2. Participate in the development, evaluation, and implementation of surveys, and initiatives designed to improve campus climate. Monitor efforts made to improve the campus climate relating to pluralism, diversity or multiculturalism.

3. Initiate campus discussion on the issues related to gathering the data and statistics, including those related to the national origin and training of University faculty in order to improve the assessment of minority equity. Advise University Council regarding efforts to increase minority presence and engagement at the University.

4. Continue to respond to issues related to the Committee’s General Charge.

2005-2006 Committee Members

Chair: Oscar Gandy (Communications); Faculty: Camille Charles (Sociology), Bernett Johnson (Dermatology), Sampath Kannan (CIS), Rosalyn Watts (Nursing); Graduate Students: Lee Humphreys (Annenberg), Uzoma Okorie (SEAS), Lucie Shin (Law); Undergraduate Students: Katrina Jurn (COL’06), Andrew Mener (COL’07), Danielle Qi (COL/WH’06); PPSA: Grace Colman (Nursing), Sean Vereen (GIC); WPSA: Jenine Mcgill (Programs and Special Events), Mary Parker-Jones (Med.), Linda Satchell, Penn Program for Public Service; Ex-Officio: Valerie Allen (dir, African-American Resource Ctr), Jeanne Arnold (exec dir, Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunities), Valerie De Cruz (dir, Greenfield Intercultural Ctr), Elena Dilapi (dir, Penn Women’s Ctr), William Gipson (chaplain), Scott Reikofski (dir, Fraternity/Sorority Affrs), Bob Schoenberg (dir, Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Ctr).


Minority Equity Report

The Subcommittee that was assigned responsibility for preparing an evaluation of the Minority Equity Report included, Jeanne Arnold, Sampath Kannan, Lee Humphreys, Uzoma Okorie, Grace Coleman, and Rosalyn Watts, and was chaired by Bernett Johnson. After reviewing the Report and discussing its finding within the Committee, the Subcommittee met with Dr. Tukufu Zuberi, one of the Co-chairs of the Minority Equity Committee to review the process, the Committee’s findings and recommendations, and the responses of the University. The following represents the views of the Subcommittee:

The Subcommittee views the Minority Equity Report as a major undertaking. Although the length of time that has passed between the establishment of the Committee and the publication of the Report was longer than we might hope, the quality and scope of the Report reflects a high level of commitment to its purpose.

The major strength of the Report is the evidence it provides of an increase in numbers of minority faculty (Almanac May 3, 2005). The Report also shows that these individuals have been successful in obtaining research support, finding opportunities for the presentation of their scholarly work, and in sharing in the appropriate allocation of space for research, and other valuable administrative support from the University.

The Report provides four specific recommendations to the President, Provost, deans and department chairs for facilitating minority faculty presence at Penn with emphasis on developing: 1) a new evaluation and search process for minority faculty; 2) a uniform database for monitoring the status of faculty; 3) opportunities for gaining leadership experience; and 4) enhancing the quality of life for these individuals.

The limitations of the Report include the following:

1. Despite the comprehensive breadth of challenges that have been noted and recommendations that have been made, the Report does not explore many strategies designed to resolve the concerns that have been noted.

2. In particular, the Report does not adequately address the issue of the accountability of deans and department chairs as those with the greatest power and responsibility for making a difference in the lives of their minority faculty.

For example, the qualitative data in the Report indicate that minority faculty members are more likely to feel that they function at a disadvantage in comparison with their counterparts. Embedded in the Report are a number of key concerns related to perceptions of bias and feelings of exclusion. They perceive their colleagues to question the legitimacy of their status as members of the academy; they report expressions of disrespect on the part of students and colleagues; and they lack evidence of a departmental commitment to minority presence.

The Subcommittee believes that the University should take every opportunity to showcase outstanding minority faculty from Penn and from other institutions as speakers, consultants and mentors.

The Subcommittee believes that deans and department chairs should be provided with incentives for demonstrating a commitment to minority presence, as well as for meeting well-articulated goals for successful recruitment and retention of minority faculty.

The Subcommittee also believes that because of their positions of responsibility, deans and department chairs should be asked to provide the Provost on an annual basis with answers to the following questions:

1. What specific strategies and techniques and interventions will you use to foster a climate of inclusiveness for minority faculty?

2. To what extent are Black/African-American faculty unfairly burdened by school- and department-level committee responsibilities? To what extent are Asian/Pacific Island faculty provided assistance in improving their teaching and opportunities for gaining leadership experience?

3. To what extent are minority assistant professors provided guidance, direction and mentorship in support of their advancement to the rank of associate professor? What were the reasons for the failure of minorities to be promoted in your school or department?

4. What efforts have you and your faculty made to encourage ethnic/minority student scholars to pursue careers within the academy or your professional field?

3. The Report begins with a discussion of the problems that the Minority Equity Committee faced with regard to the distinctions between faculty born and educated in the United States and those born or educated elsewhere. This difficulty is at the heart of an ongoing debate about the meaning of “minority” faculty, and the ability of this, and future committees to assess the status of such faculty at the University. These issues seem unlikely to be resolved by the efforts being planned to standardize and otherwise improve the collection of data about the recruitment, retention, and promotion of minority faculty.

The Subcommittee recommends that the Provost initiate an open, inclusive and informed discussion among faculty and administrators about the problems and prospects for defining, gathering and sharing relevant data about the category of persons to be defined as “minority” at the University of Pennsylvania.

Report on the USCAR Resolution


As part of its charge for the 2004-2005 academic year, the Committee on Pluralism was assigned the responsibility to assess and advise University Council concerning the United States Culture Analysis Requirement (USCAR) Proposal that had been developed and circulated by students in spring 2004. The USCAR proposal was an expression of concern that the University would be able “to equip future graduates with the ability to recognize diversity in the American experiences as well as an ability to interpret and evaluate this diversity.”

The explicit goals of the Proposal were:

a) To give students a language with which they can discuss these issues during any dialogue.

b) To inspire students to think critically about the role of underrepresented voices in many aspects of society as well as how their own experience fits into this analysis.

c) To attract underrepresented groups that will be drawn to an institution that clearly and proudly displays its commitment to multiculturalism.

d) To reward those professors who already incorporate underrepresented voices when presenting a topic within any discipline.

In support of those goals, the Proposal recommended that “students complete at least one course that uses diversity or culture analysis as an important approach for studying society.” A list of courses offered in the College of Arts and Sciences that might meet the requirement was appended to the proposal.

Following a series of meetings between the student authors of the pProposal, the Interim Provost, the Chair of the Senate Executive Committee, four undergraduate deans, and the Director of Institutional Research, a recommendation of support was forwarded to the Steering Committee of the University Council. At the March 16 meeting of the Council, a revised recommendation was submitted, discussed, and approved as a resolution by the Council.

The University Council recommended that “each school take all necessary steps to ensure that the goals of the Proposal are addressed in the undergraduate and graduate academic programs through appropriate mechanisms.” The Council also recommended that “each school report to the Penn community annually its progress in addressing the goals of the Proposal.”

In its charge to the Pluralism Committee for the 2005-2006 academic year, the Steering Committee of the Council asked the Committee to “monitor the recent SEC and Council resolutions regarding the Proposal for the United States Culture Analysis Requirement (USCAR).”

Assessment of School Responses

A memorandum requesting information about actions taken by the schools to address the USCAR Proposal was addressed to each of the deans of the 12 schools of the University. This memorandum was distributed electronically on February 6. The deans were asked to provide their responses to the Committee by April 6.

The memorandum asked the deans to describe the efforts made by their schools to address the goals of the Proposal. They were specifically asked to indicate:

1) What efforts have been made to promote and support the development of cultural analysis courses and other programmatic initiatives,

2) What kinds of courses are offered, or are being planned that will help to meet the goals of the Proposal,

3) What is the current or projected annual enrollment for these classes, and

4) What is the nature of any requirements, incentives, or promotional activities that have been implemented to support courses designed to meet the goals of the cultural analysis proposal?

The following schools failed to provide any response to the Committee by April 21: The Annenberg School, The School of Law, The School of Social Policy & Practice, The School of Engineering & Applied Science, Penn Design, The School of Dental Medicine, and The School of Veterinary Medicine.

Our report is therefore based on an analysis of the responses submitted on behalf of the following schools: The School of Arts and Sciences, The Graduate School of Education, The School of Nursing, the School of Medicine, and The Wharton School.

The quality of the responses to our request was uneven. Reports differed greatly in terms of a tendency to emphasize diversity initiatives rather than required coursework. Some schools did provide comprehensive reports with illustrative examples, and associated documentation in support of their responses to specific questions related to courses and outreach activities. The reports from Nursing, Medicine, and Wharton undergraduate were of the highest quality in this regard. The report from the School of Arts and Sciences focused primarily on programs and outreach initiatives and failed to respond to specific questions about course development, and promotion. While the Wharton Graduate Division’s report was extensive, it focused primarily on concerns about diversity, noting, for example that 42% of its students were from outside the United States. The Graduate School of Education provided a cursory response to the questions posed by the Committee.

The School of Medicine and The School of Nursing identified an extensive number of courses, seminars, programs and exercises that have been designed to improve the cultural competence of health professionals. In the case of the School of Medicine, courses designed to meet this requirement focus not only on the development of greater understanding of people from diverse cultures and belief systems, but they are also designed to help students to recognize cultural biases in themselves and others. Each of the courses described in the School of Medicine report identified the course content and exercises that were designed to facilitate the development of this competence.

The School of Nursing (SON) report also described the ways in which “concepts related to cultural diversity, cultural analysis and cultural competence have been embedded in required courses throughout the curriculum.” The SON also reported on the use of consultants and workshops to facilitate the integration of cultural competence into the curriculum. Their comprehensive report also included a description of the initiatives taken to evaluate the success of their efforts to integrate cultural competence at the undergraduate level that included surveys of faculty and students. Like the School of Medicine, the SON also described the courses that they believed to be responsive to USCAR goals in great detail. 

The Wharton School was the first to respond to the Committee’s request. The report from the Undergraduate Division was quite comprehensive and responded fully to the questions from the Committee. The report identified the courses and activities that the School felt helped to “promote and support the USCAR.” Whereas the courses in Medicine and Nursing focused on cultural competence, the Wharton courses focused on social policy, urban development, and other issues in a changing economy. The School reports that there is a continuing increase in the number of courses that are focused on “underrepresented groups,” including courses on race and sports.

Compared with the School of Arts and Sciences, which has yet to establish any required courses that respond to the goals of the Proposal, Wharton’s Management 100 course appears to be something of an exemplary requirement. The focus of the course is communication in groups, but its project focus has consistently brought students into contact with groups in the surrounding community. The report describes several projects developed within the course that reflect an active engagement with diverse groups in the community. In addition, Wharton undergraduates are expected to complete at least one course from a “bracketed” list that the school believes would meet the goals of the USCAR Proposal.

The report from the Wharton Graduate Division was extensive, but appeared not to appreciate the degree to which the USCAR Proposal was concerned primarily with the analysis of domestic cultures and groups. Although the report listed an extensive number of courses, none appear to be responsive to the USCAR goals as they relate to the United States, and no effort to identify those courses was included in the report.

The School of Arts and Sciences (SAS) described its ongoing process of curriculum reform, noting that it had made a commitment to implementing a cross-cultural analysis requirement. However, the Committee notes that the requirement is specifically defined as being concerned with ensuring “intellectual engagement with cultures outside the U.S.” The School explained the current lack of requirements reflecting the USCAR proposal’s emphasis on U.S. cultural diversity by suggesting that the “student-initiated proposal” had initially “found no advocates for it” among the faculty. A task force has reportedly been created to develop proposals for courses emphasizing U.S. based cultures.

The SAS report included an analysis of enrollment in courses that had been identified in the USCAR Proposal as meeting its goals. This analysis indicated that 62% of the students graduating took at least one of these courses, but they concluded that if they were to implement a requirement, they would need to either increase the number of courses, or increase enrollments in existing courses.

The Graduate School of Education submitted a single page report with non-specific responses to the questions posed by the Committee. This submission included a list of course numbers, titles, and enrollment figures but no description or assessment of the contributions these courses might make to the goals of the Proposal was provided.


The Committee believes that the response of the University community to the USCAR Proposal and the Recommendation of the University Council was an embarrassment. That more than half of the schools failed to respond at all is an expression of disrespect and disregard for the efforts of the students, faculty, and staff that treated the Proposal as a timely and appropriate challenge to the University community.

We recommend that the Council initiate a campus-wide discussion of the goals of the USCAR Proposal in order to provide guidance and support for each the schools to improve and extend their efforts in the coming years.

University Council Constituencies

University Council is your chance to make a difference at Penn. The Council is a deliberative body of representatives from all constituencies on campus—students, staff and faculty—that discusses and debates current topics of interest on campus, and advises the President, the Provost, and other officers of the University on making Penn a better place to study, to work and to live. 

Recent recommendations at Council have resulted in:

• the University Board of Trustees passing a resolution to divest from Sudan;
• gender identity and gender expression being added to the University’s non-discrimination clause;
•  the adoption of a policy on privacy in the electronic environment.

If you would like to learn more about one of the groups described below and/or to participate in a listserv managed by one of these groups, please contact the organization directly:

Weekly-Paid Professional Staff Assembly (WPSA)

Contact person: Marcia Dotson
Web: www.upenn.edu/wpsa/

All weekly-paid (non-union) professional employees are welcome to become a member of the WPSA. In addition to representing weekly-paid (non-union) professional employees on University Council and its committees, goals of the WPSA include:

•  informing staff about relevant programs and speakers;
•  providing opportunities to develop professional skills;
•  networking with campus leaders, key organizations and each other.

Penn Professional Staff Assembly (PPSA)

Contact info: ppsa@pobox.upenn.edu
Web: www.upenn.edu/ppsa/

Comprised of professional (monthly exempt) staff members whose positions serve the teaching, research and business missions of the University of Pennsylvania, PPSA accomplishes its mission in the following ways:

•  presents a forum where staff can express their opinions on issues facing the University and higher education;
•  offers seminars and programs to broaden and expand staff’s background, knowledge and professional development;
•  provides representation on major University committees;
•  serves as a supportive and informational network to help achieve the University’s goals and objectives by enhancing the professional status and well being of staff.

Graduate and Professional Student Assembly (GAPSA)

Contact person: Antonio Lambino
Web: www.gapsa.upenn.edu/

GAPSA is the University-wide governing organization for graduate and professional students. GAPSA elects representatives from all 12 of Penn’s schools, and its members interact regularly with the President, Provost, Board of Trustees, and other University officials. GAPSA’s major functions include:

• representing graduate and professional student interests in University policy;
• funding student groups and individuals through grants and fellowships;
• organizing a variety of social and cultural events to help students engage with one another and the community at large.

The Undergraduate Assembly (UA)

Contact person: Jason Karsh
Web: http://dolphin.upenn.edu/~ua/

The Undergraduate Assembly is an elected body that consists of 33 undergraduate students selected by their respective schools. It is charged with representing undergraduate interests to the administration, faculty, and all other constituent groups at Penn. As the umbrella branch of six different student government organizations, the UA is given the fiduciary responsibility for allocating approximately $1.5 million to the six branches of student government organizations which then distribute these funds to many student organizations on campus.

Faculty Senate

Contact person: Susan White
Web: www.upenn.edu/faculty_senate/

The Faculty Senate is the deliberative assembly of the faculty of the University. All members of the standing faculty and standing faculty-clinician educators who hold the rank of professor, associate professor or assistant professor are members of the Senate and are entitled to attend and participate in Senate meetings, introduce and vote on resolutions, and serve on Senate committees.

—Tram T. Ng,
University Council Coordinator

Almanac - October 24, 2006, Volume 53, No. 9