Council: Annual Report of the Steering Committee for University Council
This is the 38th annual report of the Steering Committee of the University Council, prepared by the Office of the University Secretary in accordance with Council Bylaws that the Steering Committee publish an annual report to the University community that reviews the previous year’s Council deliberations and highlights “both significant discussions and the formal votes taken on matters of substance.”
Annual Report of the Steering Committee for University Council
October 7, 2015 Meeting
With the advice of Steering and consent of Council, President Amy Gutmann appointed Therese Richmond as moderator and Lauren Steinfeld as parliamentarian for the 2015-2016 academic year.
Faculty Senate Chair Reed Pyeritz advised that Steering had drawn on discussions at the April 2015 Steering and Council meetings to finalize four focus issues for 2015-2016, as follows:
- The history and current status of open expression at Penn (October 28, 2015)
- Penn Connects 2.0 (December 2, 2015)
- Discussion of Penn’s protocol(s) for bringing and responding to complaints about sexual assault or misconduct and other Title IX issues (January 27, 2016)
- Cross-disciplinary and cross-school programs involving staff, students and faculty (February 17, 2016)
- Council reviewed the 2015-2016 committee charges and Professor Pyeritz announced two Open Forum sessions, for the December 2 and February 17 meetings.
Provost Vince Price, Vice Provost for Education Beth Winkelstein and David Fox, director of NSO and Academic Initiatives, led discussion of the 2015-2016 Academic Theme Year: The Year of Discovery, to include intellectual and cultural opportunities for students, faculty and staff.
October 28, 2015 Meeting
The History and Current Status of Open Expression at Penn
The meeting opened with the discussion of the first focus issue of the year, “The History and Current Status of Open Expression at Penn.”
Provost Price spoke about opportunities at Penn, including Campaign for Community (C4C), to bolster open expression and talk constructively about issues that may seem intractable or controversial. He then introduced Senior Vice President and General Counsel Wendy White, Associate Vice Provost for Equity and Access Will Gipson, Vice Provost for Student Affairs Hikaru Kozuma and Vice Provost for Faculty Anita Allen.
Ms. White noted that issues of academic freedom and free speech have always existed on campuses, offering the example of 1960s anti-war protests, a period to which Penn’s open expression policies can be traced. Mr. Kozuma spoke about Penn’s Guidelines on Open Expression and the Committee on Open Expression, which support Penn’s commitment to freedoms of thought, inquiry, speech and assembly while protecting the normal activities of the community. Dr. Allen spoke about the positive and negative consequences of open expression, noting the importance of speaking out against words that one believes are objectionable. Vice Provost Will Gipson spoke about Campaign for Community, urging individuals or groups to submit proposals for funding, support and/or branding for their events.
In accordance with the Bylaws, President Gutmann and Provost Price presented State of the University reports.
President Gutmann introduced the new President’s Innovation Prize, a commercial analog to the President’s Engagement Prize—$100,000 with a living stipend of $50,000 each for up to five team members. Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations John Zeller spoke on Penn Impact 2020, Penn’s development and alumni relations efforts through the end of this decade.
Mr. Zeller reviewed the success of the Making History campaign, which surpassed its $3.5 billion goal with commitments of $4.3 billion. The campaign also met non-financial objectives of engagement. Penn Impact 2020, a five year-effort begun last year, continues the key priorities of Making History: support for student financial aid, faculty support, engagement activities, as well as strategic priorities for the schools and centers.
Noting that the Task Force on Student Psychological Health and Wellness had recommended regular reports to Council on progress on initiatives, the Provost introduced Bill Alexander, director of Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), Director of the Graduate Student Center and Family Resource Center Anita Mastroieni, and Vice Provost for Education Beth Winkelstein.
Professor Winkelstein indicated that the Task Force’s February 2015 report resulted from combined efforts of a large cross-campus partnership, including the new Jed Advisory Team. Ms. Mastroieni noted the four broad categories of Task Force recommendations: communication and education; centralizing information about mental health resources; engaging faculty, staff, students and families; and finally, optimizing resources for CAPS.
Messaging supportive of self-care and looking out for one another was reflected at Freshman Convocation, in welcome back communications from deans and administrators, and in the Graduate Student Resource Guide, to name a few examples. The Faculty Council on Access and Academic Support distributed a checklist to faculty on helping students thrive as scholars and linking resources, and CAPS and the Faculty Senate disseminated information about warning signs of student distress.
All Task Force recommendations regarding CAPS have been implemented. Initial appointments for non-urgent care are offered within a week of assessment. Dr. Alexander detailed the program’s nine components, including a review of policy, systems and strategic planning; development of life skills; fostering connectedness between individuals and between structures and programs, and examining academic performance as it relates to mental health and wellness.
December 2, 2015 Meeting
The Moderator introduced Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli and Vice President for Real Estate and Facilities Services Anne Papageorge to discuss the focus issue, Penn Connects 2.0.
Mr. Carnaroli spoke about Penn Connects, its connection to the vision of the Penn Compact and the resources of the successful Making History campaign, and the 30-year long-range plan approved by the Trustees in 2006. He noted how development on campus resonates with Penn’s mission of education, research and student life with a focus on facilities, open space and connections within the University as well as beyond.
Mr. Carnaroli added that the University has been sensitive to being a good neighbor within the larger community—learning through its own experience over the past 50 years and in observation of the experiences of other universities. Ms. Papageorge also noted that the University works very closely with the community and the city. As an example, each month, Penn provides an update to over 60 community organizations.
Council held its first Open Forum and discussed the following issues:
- Concerns regarding Penn’s policy to not bridge time when a staff member switches from full-time to part-time, when calculating retirement benefits
- Request to speak about sexual assault and resources for victims of sexual assault at Penn
- Request to speak about religion/spirituality as a form of diversity at Penn
- Request to speak against fossil-fuel divestment
- Request to speak in favor of the divestment of university endowment funds from the fossil fuel industry
- Request to speak on the topic of sustainable investing and fossil fuel divestment
- Request to speak on the investment policy of the Penn endowment fund in regard to fossil fuels and climate change
January 27, 2016 Meeting
Executive Director of the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity Programs Sam Starks began discussion of Penn’s protocol(s) for bringing and responding to complaints about sexual assault or misconduct and other Title IX issues, noting that he is also Penn’s Title IX coordinator. He spoke about the federal laws known as Title IX prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in all educational programs and activities at any university receiving federal funding.
Jessica Mertz, director of Sexual Violence Prevention and Education in the office of the Vice Provost for University Life, spoke about developing and overseeing Penn’s initiatives to educate students about interpersonal, sexual and relationship violence and stalking, and stressed the collaborative nature of her office’s efforts.
Director of Special Services Pat Brennan spoke about the work of her department, which is a division of Public Safety but not part of Penn Police. She added that her office provides options counseling and conducts investigations related to dating and domestic violence, harassment and stalking, but the Philadelphia Police Sexual Assault Resource Center (PSARC) conducts criminal investigations of sexual assault.
Deborah Harley, the University’s Sexual Violence Investigative Officer, detailed how complaints of sexual or relationship violence or stalking are investigated with reference to University sanctions. Associate Vice Provost for Student Affairs Karu Kozuma stressed the importance of ongoing education as a strong component in Penn’s response, including prevention, available resources, University policies and the role that everyone in the Penn community can play.
Provost Price said that plans are proceeding so that there would be a single site for investigating all complaints, including those against faculty.
February 17, 2016 Meeting
Provost Vince Price began the discussion of the focus issue “Cross-disciplinary and cross-school programs involving staff, students and faculty” by noting that integrating knowledge across disciplines is a priority for Penn, as is establishing creative linkages to support that mission. He introduced Vice Provost for Research Dawn Bonnell and Vice Provost for Education Beth Winkelstein to continue the discussion.
Professor Winkelstein highlighted the curricular integration of knowledge and education through research, educational and integrated studies programs. She noted two ways that integration of knowledge can be envisioned within an educational program, through an interdisciplinary overlap within a study, such as the Biological Basis of Behavior, or through a coordinated attachment around a particular focus of interest, such as Digital Media Design, which includes computer science, communication and the arts.
Professor Bonnell spoke about the many models through which centers are created, ranging from being based within a department, a school or more broadly by engaging a number of schools. Center membership includes faculty, staff and student collaborators on scholarship and education.
Council held its second Open Forum and discussed one issue:
- Request to speak regarding University fossil-fuel divestment
March 23, 2016 Meeting
The Moderator indicated that Council bylaws call for reports each spring by the President, Provost and other administrators detailing budgets and plans for the next academic year.
She then introduced Ezekiel Emanuel, vice provost for Global Initiatives, and Bill Burke-White, director of the Perry World House. Dr. Emanuel began his remarks by summarizing Penn’s strategic plan for global engagement, which is based upon the pillars of preparing Penn students for an increasingly globalized world, positioning Penn as a global agenda setter on policy issues, promoting healthy and inspiring lives.
Dr. Emanuel introduced inaugural director of the Perry World House Dr. Burke-White to speak about the vision for programming as construction nears completion. Dr. Burke-White noted the vision for the Perry World House as a place to connect all of Penn, catalyze international research and activity on campus, convene important conversations, and as a public forum connect Penn to global policy debates. Space will be available for students and faculty of all 12 schools to host a conference or event.
In speaking about the engagement of students in Perry World House activities, Dr. Burke-White noted that the World House Student Fellows Program will offer opportunities for undergraduate students to closely engage with the work there.
Bonnie Gibson, vice president of the Office of Budget and Management Analysis, presented the academic budget and student charges for 2016-2017, noting that this will be the eighth consecutive year with an increase under 4% and that over the past 10 years, Penn’s increases have been at the average with its peers. She added that PhD and research master’s program tuition will increase 3.9% for the next year, while professional student tuition is set by each school.
April 20, 2016 Meeting
Chairs of the five standing Council committees provided overviews of their final reports:
- Professor Reed Shuldiner, chair of the Committee on Personnel Benefits
- Professor Ani Nenkova, chair of the Committee on Academic and Related Affairs
- Professor Rebecca Maynard, chair of the Committee on Campus and Community Life
- Professor Ezekiel Dixon-Román, chair of the Committee on Diversity and Equity
- Professor Ann Moyer, chair of the Committee on Facilities
Provost Price and President Gutmann thanked the chairs and the committee members for their dedication in exploring the charges assigned to their committees and making recommendations.
Faculty Senate Chair-Elect Professor Laura Perna reported on the work of the Council Committee on Committees in 2015-2016, indicating that the committees operated well overall and suggesting refinements to the process. Faculty Senate Chair Professor Reed Pyeritz introduced potential focus issues for Council for the 2016-2017 academic year as suggested by Steering, Council, and constituencies including:
- Increasing academic success by reducing academic stress
- Looking beyond race: What counts as diversity at Penn and how are those groups supported? (religious, socioeconomic, etc.)
- Low income and first-generation students—from application to graduation. (How are these students selected for and supported at Penn?)
- A discussion of Penn’s engagement in West Philadelphia, including the Netter Center
- A discussion of online learning initiatives
- A discussion of performing arts at Penn
- An update on the Campaign for Community
- Reaching across Penn: Strategic Collaborations
- Diversity Pipeline Initiatives for Staff
- Increasing opportunities for student/faculty innovation/entrepreneurship: Pennovation Center and other campus resources, including PCI, Wharton, Weiss Tech, Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation, etc.
- Increasing opportunities for global engagement and for study of international issues: Perry World House, area studies programs, international internships, study abroad, global immersion opportunities, etc.
- Five-year update on Penn’s Action Plan for Faculty Diversity and Excellence
- Update on multi-year efforts to strengthen University Communications, including Penn’s use of new/social media technologies
Dr. Gutmann acknowledged the contributions of outgoing participants of Council, thanking them and all University Council members for their participation.