From the Senate Office: Faculty Senate Executive Committee Actions

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 Patrick Walsh, executive assistant to the Senate Office, either by telephone at (215) 898-6943 or by email at

Faculty Senate Executive Committee Actions

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Chair’s Report. Faculty Senate Chair Santosh Venkatesh informed SEC members that the Teach-In being planned by the Senate is the first teach-in on campus since March 4, 1969 (pdf). He gave the floor to Neill Epperson (PSOM/Psychiatry), who provided an update on Teach-In planning. Several topics are being considered as features during the Teach-In (to be held March 19-22, 2018), including health care and how its research is related to the public, artificial intelligence, natural environment and climate, and social climate issues. Events will be planned across all schools and centrally and will take a number of forms to engage the entire campus and the broader Philadelphia community. Professor Venkatesh invited all Penn community members to contact the Senate office at and become involved in the effort.

Past-Chair’s Report. Faculty Senate Past Chair Laura Perna reported that the Campaign for Community (C4C) continues to accept applications through the C4C website, and encouraged faculty, students and staff who are planning on-campus events to apply for funding.

Update from the Office of the Provost.  Provost Wendell Pritchett invited ongoing input from SEC members throughout the year, emphasizing the important role that the Faculty Senate plays in shared governance at Penn. He echoed support for the ongoing Campaign for Community and for the Teach-In the Senate is planning. He noted a desire to continue increasing faculty diversity and inclusion and is working with the schools as they renew their five-year diversity and inclusion plans. He also wishes to enhance interactions among the schools, through interdisciplinary projects and the PIK Professor program; he asked SEC members for suggestions on how else to augment these interactions. Regarding student concerns, he intends to incorporate more first-generation/low-income students into the Penn community and provide them with support services. Provost Pritchett will also work toward increasing graduation rates for undergraduate students and lessening time-to-degree for graduate students. He will engage faculty and students to better understand what student health and wellness resources are and are not working and will also improve communication efforts of available resources to students.

Provost Pritchett then responded to questions from SEC members. Regarding student wellness, SEC members requested expansion of I CARE training and inquired about ways to decrease competitiveness in joining student clubs. Provost Pritchett responded that students have expressed similar concerns about these matters and their governance mechanisms are investigating the matters. When asked about how unconscious bias training was implemented across schools, Provost Pritchett said that as of this summer, the training (offered by the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty) is required of all new search committee members. He concurred with SEC members that all departments should accept an offer to hold a training session for their faculty. Other topics discussed included sixth-year funding for graduate students, tenure procedures within schools, orientation programs for new faculty, work-life balance and mentorship programs for junior faculty.

2017 Senate Nominating Committee. Pursuant to the Faculty Senate Rules, the members of SEC were asked to submit a nomination of a member of the Standing Faculty to appear on the Nominating Committee ballot.