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University Council Coverage
February 9, 2010, Volume 56, No. 21

On February 3, the University Council held its first meeting of the semester. On behalf of Council’s Steering Committee, Dr. Robert Hornik, chair-elect of the Faculty Senate, announced that the Council meeting scheduled for February 17 will be cancelled. Therefore the next Council meeting will be held on March 31.

Last week’s meeting was devoted to the fourth focus issue—student affairs. The first component was devoted to recent undergraduate curriculum changes and a discussion of changes that are currently being considered by the four undergraduate schools. Provost Vince Price noted that these curriculum changes are designed to build an educational environment that supports all three parts of the Penn Compact—to integrate knowledge, increase engagement and to increase access. Vice Provost for Education Andrew Binns then introduced each of the four undergraduate deans.

Dr. Kathleen McCauley, Nursing’s associate dean for academic programs, spoke about how the School of Nursing is launching a process of re-envisioning the undergraduate curriculum for those students entering in September 2011, with a focus on the acuity of patients as well as the aging of patients, according to national trends. There will be a focus on integrating learning, blending basic sciences and clinical practice, including more case study rather than having as many traditional lectures. There would also be a research practicum and community service practicum.

Dr. Georgette Chapman Phillips, Wharton’s vice dean of the undergraduate division, explained that the Carnegie Report on Undergraduate Business Education calls for a need to integrate liberal arts into the undergraduate business education. She said Wharton is already doing that with 40 percent of required CEUs coming from classes that are not in Wharton, many students also have minors outside of Wharton or are simultaneously earning two degrees. There are new concentrations being offered such as social impact and social responsibility, which was a student-led initiative. That concentration involves courses from several departments in the school. Study abroad opportunities as well as grants for Wharton students doing research in the US are being developed.

Dr. Dennis DeTurck, dean of the College, explained that as Penn’s oldest school, they have the deepest roots in the liberal arts. He said that as far as the General Education requirements, all students are now following the new curriculum. There are six new majors including health and societies, Latin American studies, criminology, and Russian history and new minors: journalistic writing,  jazz studies and sustainability and some in conjunction with other schools at Penn such as landscape studies, with the School of Design; and early education, in conjunction with Graduate School of Education.

Dr. Vijay Kumar, Engineering’s deputy dean of education said that since engineering is tied to technology, and technology is constantly changing, the school has to be very dynamic with its seven majors. A new initiative is the computer engineering major which will deal with the mathematics of software and how to create ‘gizmos’ such as iPods. Minors such as nanotechnology have been around since spring 2008, while others such as energy and sustainability are newer.

Dr. Binns mentioned that President Amy Gutmann had announced the funding for CURF and GAPSA that is coming from the Carnegie Corporation’s Academic Leadership Award that she received last fall (Almanac September 29, 2009).  (See Carnegie Award Funds to be Used for Student Research and Travel Opportunities)

Dr. Gutmann said that she is proud and grateful for what Dr. Binns and the deans are doing to break down barriers, integrate studies and being role models for creating social change.

The second component of the discussion on student affairs concerned the survey instruments used by the University, with highlights of the data collected and how it is being used. Dr. Binns gave a presentation on the PULSE (Perception of Undergraduate Life and Student Experience) Survey. See https://secure.www.upenn.edu/secretary/council/minutes/Materials.html for the powerpoint. The PULSE Survey collected information from Penn students and students at other major research universities and some small liberal arts colleges. Penn’s data is shown compared to the selected institutions who also participated. Dr. Binns said the survey has given Penn much to focus attention on in the future.


Almanac - February 9, 2010, Volume 56, No. 21