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SENATE From the Senate Office

April 17, 2012, Volume 58, No. 30

Faculty Senate Executive Committee Actions

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


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

Chair’s Report: Faculty Senate Chair Camille Charles reported that the May SEC meeting will be held at the Hourglass Room in the University Club, Inn at Penn. She noted that a reception will follow the meeting from 5 to 6 p.m. She explained that at the May meeting SEC will consider the proposed addition of a part-time faculty track in the School of Medicine and will hear annual reports from the Senate Committee Chairs.

Past Chair’s Report:  Faculty Senate Past Chair Bob Hornik reported that Capital Council did not meet and that Academic Planning and Budget discussed online education and two new Master’s Programs. 

How Universities Can Make the Most Difference, Locally and Globally: President Amy Gutmann updated SEC members on the three paramount aims of higher education:  Opportunity, Global Understanding and Impact. She focused the conversation on educating undergraduates in the 21st century. She noted that it is important to discuss college education affordability in terms of the net cost rather than the tuition cost. President Gutmann showed the high performance of investing in an undergraduate college degree as opposed to investing in the market for that same period of time. She reported that the unemployment rate for college graduates peaked at 5.1%, which was much lower that the national unemployment rate. President Gutmann discussed the five income quintiles of prospective families and their over- and/or under-representation among enrolled students. She explained that Penn has made much headway by increasing access of affordability with need-blind admissions and need-based financial aid. She noted that the average net cost for aided undergraduate students at Penn has decreased from $19,400 to $18,700 over the past seven years, which exemplifies why it is important to focus on the net cost of education. President Gutmann reported that Penn is moving to integrate liberal arts and professional education though courses such as The Future of the American Health Care System, Access, Cost and Quality taught by Ezekiel Emanuel and Sanford Schwartz. President Gutmann explained Penn’s three areas of impact:  empowering individual undergraduate students, local civic improvement, and stimulation of economic and social progress.

SEC members’ discussion focused on the following topics: the fraction of aided students which is rising, the fraction of students coming to Penn from the lower economic quintile which is helped by partnering with the QuestBridge and POSSE programs, the sustainability of the School of Arts & Sciences to support their mission, working with Responsibility Center Management by integrating and adjusting incentives, and the future of online learning as a supplement to traditional teaching methods. 


Almanac - April 17, 2012, Volume 58, No. 30