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October 27, 2009, Volume 56, No. 09

The following is published in accordance with the Faculty Senate Rules. Among other purposes, the publication of SEC actions is intended to stimulate discussion among the constituencies and their representatives. Please communicate your comments to Sue White, executive assistant to the Senate Office, either by telephone at (215) 898-6943, or by e-mail at senate@pobox.upenn.edu.

Faculty Senate Executive Committee Actions
Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Chair’s Report.  Faculty Senate Chair Harvey Rubin reported that the University Council Committee on Honorary Degrees is accepting nominations for consideration and urged SEC members to forward names to the Senate Office. Dr. Rubin opened a brief discussion on ideas for the SEC December discussion meeting. Topics that were suggested include: the trajectory of the faculty including faculty falling off the tenure track; assessment of how mentoring is working; status of women faculty; ways to foster a green campus; and retirement and the graying of the faculty.

2009-2010 Nominating Committee Ballots. SEC members voted for the 2009-2010 Nominating Committee.

Legal Issues in Higher Education. Wendy White, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of the University of Pennsylvania, briefed SEC members on the varied aspects of the Office of General Counsel. She discussed four topics: managing resources, the Higher Education & Opportunity Act, affirmative action, and conflicts and consulting. Ms. White explained the impacts of resource management on faculty and staff. She discussed the Faculty Handbook which governs the faculty, shared governance, mechanisms for resolving faculty conflicts, and situations when the Office of General Counsel can help. Ms. White discussed affirmative action and explained the legal rules that apply to students and faculty.  Ms. White reported that the Higher Education and Opportunity Act passed in 2008 has numerous new regulations for Higher Education including a new law that requires colleges to disclose in their course schedules, “to the maximum extent practicable,” the ISBN and the price of the textbooks and supplemental materials used in the course. She reported on the new School of Medicine policy that provides for public disclosure of faculty annual disclosure of extramural activities.

Update on the University.  President Amy Gutmann updated SEC on the financial management of the University, the newly released climate action plan, and Penn’s ongoing global engagement efforts. She reviewed the steps taken that have helped soften the blow of the downturn: curbing compensation costs, reducing the use of temporary employees, and suspending building projects that did not have a definite funding plan in place. She reported that to date, Penn has met more than 75 percent of our University-wide initial 18-month cost-containment goal of $58 million. President Gutmann explained that under the climate action plan, Penn will continue to build greener buildings, conserve energy, and minimize waste. She encouraged SEC members to look on the sustainability website for easy tips on saving energy. President Gutmann reviewed Penn’s global engagement efforts in China, Botswana, Europe, South America, and elsewhere in Africa and Asia.


Almanac - October 27, 2009, Volume 56, No. 09