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Senate 2009-2010
May 11, 2010, Volume 56, No. 33

Senate Committee on Faculty and the Administration (SCOA)

General Committee Charge:

SCOA oversees and advises the Executive Committee on matters relating to the faculty’s interface with the University’s administration, including policies and procedures relating to the University’s structure, and the conditions of faculty employment.

Specific Charges:

At the initial meeting of SCOA for the AY 2009-2010, the committee considered the official charges provided by Professor Harvey Rubin, Chair of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee:

1.  Collect data on the governance and oversight of the school-based Master’s programs.  Consider whether current faculty oversight is adequate or whether additional oversight processes should be recommended.

2. Continue to review practices across schools related to sabbatical and other leaves.  Review and make recommendations for any needed policy changes related to sabbatical requirements and use in order to ensure fairness across schools.

3.  Form and monitor the work of a SCOA Subcommittee on Research charged with examining how the University research infrastructure supports humanities and social science scholarship, and how information technology needs of the researchers are being met.

4. Monitor any cases in which the power of temporary exclusion is exercised under recently adopted provisions in order to assess their adequacy.  Consider whether there is a need to develop policies around temporary exclusion (e.g. for illness reasons) that do not fall under current policy.


1.  Data on Governance and Oversight of the School-Based Master’s Programs.

There are two types of Master’s programs at Penn.  A small number are overseen by Andy Binns, Vice Provost for Education.  The schools themselves oversee most Master’s programs, as well as a variety of terminal degree certificate programs. Committee members reported concerns that some of the latter may neither be staffed nor overseen by full-time faculty to any significant degree, and that there is no systematic information available on these programs. The Committee met with Andy Binns, who indicated his office is seeking to insure that all programs have a review clause and that reviews occur as prescribed in the programs under his office’s supervision. He also favored development of norms and rules for Master’s and certificate programs and expressed concern that the data the central administration has on such programs may not be comprehensive.  The Committee then asked the Graduate Assistant to the Faculty Senate, Janelle Haynes, to survey Penn websites to compile a database on school-based Master’s and certificate programs. The results showed that there are indeed a great number and variety of these programs, many clearly outstanding, but some that might bear closer investigation in regard to the degree of involvement by full-time faculty members.

SCOA recommends that each school maintain a list of its Master’s and certificate degree programs; define review criteria and constitute a review committee for those programs; and each school should conduct a full review of all such programs every five years.

2. Practices Across Schools on Sabbaticals and Other Leaves.

On the basis of administration data on leave utilization and informal surveys of faculty members in various schools conducted by SCOA members in previous years as well as this year, the committee concluded that there is reason for concern that many faculty members are unaware of pertinent leave policies; some, particularly those doing clinical work and lab research, find it difficult to utilize leaves as currently structured; and in some instances faculty members have continued to do clinical work, research, and teach while being recorded as on leave. The Committee developed a template for alternate, more flexible forms of leave that the Faculty Senate Tri-Chairs discussed with the President and Provost. 

SCOA recommends that efforts to establish such alternate forms of leave be pursued.

3. Form and Monitor a SCOA Subcommittee on Research.

The Subcommittee was formed, with SCOA member Professor Sydney Evans serving as SCOA’s representative on it, and it began consideration of its charges, including identification of particular problems.

SCOA recommends that the Subcommittee on Research continue its work on how the University research infrastructure supports humanities and social science scholarship and how information technology needs of researchers are being met, along with related concerns that the Subcommittee may identify.

4. Monitor Cases of Temporary Exclusion.

The Committee did not receive any reports of temporary exclusions, nor did it hear concerns suggesting the need to develop further policies at this time. Its work was primarily devoted to the matters raised in the first three charges. 

SCOA Membership 2009-2010

Rogers M. Smith (School of Arts and Sciences), Chair

Regina Austin (School of Law)

Sydney M. Evans (School of Medicine)

Sohrab Rabii (School of Engineering & Applied Science)

Bernard Shapiro (School of Veterinary Medicine)

Barry Silverman (School of Engineering)

Harvey Rubin (School of Medicine), ex officio

Robert Hornik (Annenberg School for Communication), ex officio

Index of Annual Reports of Senate Committees for 2009-2010

Almanac - May 11, 2010, Volume 56, No. 33