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March 29, 2011, Volume 57, No. 27

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 email at senate@pobox.upenn.edu

Faculty Senate Executive Committee Actions

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Chair’s Report: Faculty Senate Chair Bob Hornik reported that the Senate Committee on Students and the Educational Policy (SCSEP) had a robust discussion on faculty concerns with Blackboard at a meeting with H. Carton Rogers, vice provost and director of libraries; Marjorie Hassen, director of public services and Michael Winkler, director of information technology & digital development. He noted that the library support group is aware of frustrations with the system and this may be part of a larger discussion on the need for online course support that is rapidly increasing in scope and complexity. SEC Executive Assistant Sue White distributed a list of the “Blackboard Support Partners Group” which lists staff in each school to contact when there are questions or announcements regarding Blackboard.  Dr. Hornik announced that an ad-hoc committee will be constituted to further explore concerns with the traditional sabbatical and encouraged SEC members to contact him if they wish to be a member of this committee. There will also be an ad hoc committee to review the results of the pilot faculty climate survey and to advise the administration on possible changes. He reported that there will be a discussion on Open Access with Senior Vice Provost for Research Steve Fluharty at the upcoming April or May SEC meeting. He noted that the administration is in the process of developing a plan to act to improve minority presence on the faculty, and that there will be additional discussions on that issue at one of the remaining SEC meetings as well.

Senate Committee on Committees Ballot: SEC members voted on the ballot for faculty members to serve on Senate and University-wide committees for the 2011-2012 academic year.   

Update from the Office of the President: President Amy Gutmann presented an update to SEC on Penn’s highest priorities and on the metrics used to assess whether Penn is meeting those priorities.  Under the umbrella of “Penn People,” Dr. Gutmann presented evidence about ongoing efforts to enroll the most talented and diverse students, strengthen no-loan financial aid programs for undergraduates, improve graduate student stipends, increase interdisciplinary research opportunities with faculty, and recruit and retain the best faculty, including under-represented minorities and women. In discussing “Penn’s Resources,” Dr. Gutmann discussed the success of Penn’s Making History campaign, including strong support for financial aid and increased alumni engagement opportunities, and also highlighted record levels of sponsored program funding, improved technology transfer programs, successful cost containment efforts, and excellent endowment performance.  Dr. Gutmann spoke on “Penn Facilities” and reviewed the many renovation and construction projects that were undertaken in Phase I of the Penn Connects programs, which total 3.8 million square feet of new and refurbished space. Dr. Gutmann discussed and provided evidence about some of Penn’s many local and global engagement activities, including Penn Vet’s important service to the Commonwealth’s agricultural communities, the University’s economic inclusion programs, the success of educational programs at the Penn Alexander School, and the deepening of Penn’s relationships in Asia.

SEC questions focused on: the coverage and costs for transgender health benefits for faculty and staff, concerns with the dual career recruiting program, ways in which Penn has increased the retention of faculty, strategies to recruit undergraduate minority students, and the large demand for limited space at the Penn Alexander School.

Discussion and vote on the School of Dental Medicine proposal to add an Academic Clinician faculty track: Dean Denis Kinane summarized the School of Dental Medicine’s proposal.  He explained that the intention of the proposal is to bring to the Dental School full-time faculty whose responsibilities will be in patient care and in teaching.  He provided supplemental information about the numbers of faculty currently in full- and part-time faculty and other teaching roles, and the numbers projected in five years if the academic clinician track was approved.  SEC members had a robust discussion with the dean on the rights, privileges, and responsibilities of the current and proposed faculty in the School of Dental Medicine. 

SEC members voted unanimously to approve the School of Dental Medicine proposal to add an Academic Clinician faculty track.

Almanac - March 29, 2011, Volume 57, No. 27