Faculty Senate Executive Committee Actions Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The following agenda is published in accordance with the Faculty Senate Rules. Any member of the standing faculty may attend SEC meetings and observe. Questions may be directed to Patrick Walsh, 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 Santosh Venkatesh informed SEC members that the final SEC meeting will be held on May 9 at the Singh Nanotechnology Center’s Glandt Forum. During that meeting, an election will be held to determine the four faculty representatives to the University Council Steering Committee for 2018-19. He further noted that constituency elections for SEC will start in early May for the constituencies whose representatives have terms concluding this year.  

Past Chair’s Report. Professor Laura Perna provided an update on the progress of the Senate Nominating Committee. She also reported that the Steering Committee for the Campaign for Community met earlier in the week. There is an increasing number of proposals being funded by the Campaign, and she suggested that faculty members consider it as a source of funding for events on campus. There are relatively few applications from staff, and the Steering Committee for the Campaign for Community encourages staff to apply.

Teach-In.  Professor Venkatesh reported that the Teach-In was held at sites around campus from March 18-22, 2018.  Though all events on March 21 were cancelled due to inclement weather, several of them are rescheduling their events into April. For example, the “Immigration Town Hall” will be held in the Law School’s Fitts Auditorium on April 12 at 5 p.m., and the PPSA event, “Developing a Culture of Health,” will be held on April 18 at 1 p.m.  More information can be found at www.upenn.edu/teachin  During the Teach-In week itself, about 1,500 people attended 27 scheduled events. Based on feedback from participants, there appears to be a large appetite from students and members of the Philadelphia community for programs like those offered during the Teach-In.  A particularly appreciated feature was the use of dialogues (rather than lectures) to foster constructive and open expression of different points of view. SEC members discussed how these dialogues could be carried forth into Penn classes in a more sustained way. They acknowledged the efforts of the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education in organizing guided discussion documents that faculty members could opt to use in their classes during the Teach-In week.

Moderated Discussion.  Professor Venkatesh engaged SEC members in discussion of a number of pre-identified topics, including free speech and open expression, sexual harassment policies and strategies for facilitating the reporting of incidents, faculty retirement benefits and resources, and increasing demands on faculty. Questions and comments generated from the discussion will be consolidated and used to inform the development of committee charges for the 2018-19 academic year.