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February 1, 2011, Volume 57, No. 20

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, January 26, 2011

Chair’s Report: Faculty Senate Chair Bob Hornik reported that the Founder’s Day Symposium; Human Rights; Contested Practices and Principles was a success and thanked Faculty Senate Past-Chair Harvey Rubin and Executive Assistant Sue White. He announced that Professors Carl June, Jonathan Smith, and R. Polk Wagner have been elected to the Patent Policy Appeals Board, with Dr. Wagner agreeing to serve as chair. He reported that the Senate Committee on Faculty and the Administration (SCOA) drafted an Alternative Sabbatical Program that will be discussed at the February SEC meeting. 

Past Chair’s Report: Faculty Senate Past-Chair Harvey Rubin reported that the Academic Planning and Budget Committee did not meet. 

Ballot for the 2011 Senate Committee on Committees:  SEC members voted for the 2011 Senate Committee on Committees.

Discussion on Faculty Diversity: Faculty Senate Chair Bob Hornik welcomed SEC members and explained that the format of this meeting will be a faculty discussion about the recently published Progress Report on Minority Equity. He introduced the panelists leading the discussion: Larry Gladney, professor of physics; Jerry Johnson, professor of medicine; Susan Margulies, professor of bioengineering and Sam Starks, executive director of affirmative action. He welcomed Lynn Lees, vice provost for faculty affairs and explained that she is attending to listen to the discussion and the ideas generated. The framework for the discussion was (1) that the report indicated a clear lack of progress in bringing African-American, Hispanic/Latino and Native American faculty to Penn and (2) panelists and SEC members were asked to focus on specific strategies to better this record.

SEC members had a robust discussion with the panelists on faculty diversity and various suggestions emerged. One panelist, Dr. Margulies, made a strong argument that it was possible to do better: she pointed to the relative success of Brown University in increasing its African-American, Hispanic/Latino and Native American faculty over the same period that Penn was not doing so. She argued that Penn ought to be looking at the procedures Brown introduced in achieving success. 

Panelists and SEC members put forward a wide variety of specific strategies during the meeting.  They included strategies falling in each of the following categories: a definitive commitment by University leadership to making progress with specific goals realized in an action plan; success in achieving those goals should be rewarded through allocation of departmental resources and personal incentives; specific expectations should be communicated by the Provost and Deans in their oversight of Departmental search processes (review of search plans; briefing of committees and provision of training; involvement from an early stage of School Affirmative Action officers); the development of search strategies likely to find minority candidates (e.g. extending searches beyond one year; active surveillance of promising individuals and of schools graduating minority candidates.) Panelists also recognized that a commitment by faculty and by the members of search committees was essential. 

SEC committed itself to further careful consideration of specific recommendations made at this meeting, and those offered subsequent to the meeting. Those would be considered by SEC meeting for formal endorsement with the expectation that SEC will make formal recommendations for action to various groups in the University.


Almanac - February 1, 2011, Volume 57, No. 20