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Council Meeting Coverage

April 24, 2012, Volume 58, No. 31

At the April 18 University Council meeting, President Amy Gutmann described a new venture that she said was an historic announcement: Penn will be collaborating with other universities to provide free web-based education through Coursera, an online platform. She said that some faculty have volunteered to teach in this new environment which will allow Penn to reach out to potential students, alumni and the general public.

The majority of that meeting, the last of the semester, was spent summarizing the reports by the Council Committees, they will be published in next week’s Almanac. President Gutmann said the committees “have done a laudatory job.”

The Committee on Academic and Related Affairs Report was summarized by committee member Dr. Steven Kimbrough. He said that they focused on two issues: academic integrity and undergraduate research. Dr. Kimbrough said that academic integrity is a shared responsibility and concern of students and faculty. He encouraged increased communication between faculty members and the Office of Student Conduct.

The Committee on Campus and Community Life Report was summarized by chair Dr. Kent Bream. He discussed the PULSE survey which found some differences in responses based on socio-economic status. He also talked about bicycles on campus, in terms of getting the IRS-approved commuter benefits as well as the challenges of safety for bicycles and pedestrians.

The report of the Committee on Diversity and Equity  was summarized by co-chair Dr. Judy Shea who said it was a relatively quiet, calm and productive. She suggested that all search committee members should attend workshops on  unconscious bias.

The Committee on Facilities Report was summarized by committee chair Dr. Michael McGarvey. He discussed the lactation spaces on campus and recommended an increase in the number of such rooms open to the University community, faculty, staff, students and visitors.

The Committee on Personnel Benefits Report was summarized by Dr. David Pope, committee chair. He said his committee dealt with issues of fairness and accessibility of tuition benefits for Penn employees who wish to take courses here. He noted that LPS has an open enrollment policy for the summer term courses which is a viable way for people to “dip their toes in the academic waters.”

Chair of Steering, Dr. Camille Charles presented the report of the Committee on Committees. She said that this year, each committee has had a relevant high-level administrator attend meetings to give feedback. She added that a mid-year progress report should be shared with the Steering Committee. Dr. Charles noted the importance of student committee members’ attendance at meetings.

Focus issues for next year will be formalized in September; some had already been circulated to Council prior to the meeting and a couple more were suggested.

Next Council meeting: October 3, 2012.

Almanac - April 24, 2012, Volume 58, No. 31