On Wednesday afternoon, the University Council met for its last meeting of the spring semester to discuss committee reports and focus issues for the upcoming year. The University’s Committee on Committees also presented suggestions for the improvement of the various committees.
The four committees that presented included the Committee on Campus and Community Life, the Committee on Diversity and Equity, the Committee on Facilities and the Committee on Academic Affairs. Each of the committees put forth recommendations based on their meetings and research conducted.
University administration will take into account all recommendations and take the summer to deliberate how to best implement various ideas raised.
Committee on Facilities
Among other things, the Committee on Facilities recommended that the University look into providing adequate spaces that support the diverse needs of faculty members, staff and students. The committee suggested a second Children’s Center and additional nap space, similar to that in Education Commons, for students.
Committee on Diversity and Equity
The committee recommended that the University increase the yearly allocation for the Faith Fund from $10,000 to $40,000 in order to ensure adequate support for the several religious groups on campus. It also supported the need for additional dedicated spaces for religious groups. The committee suggested the creation of a task force between the Office of the Chaplain and the Provost to determine the needs of religious groups.
Committee on Campus and Community Life
This committee paid special attention to the Penn Alexander School and made recommendations regarding the University’s relationship with the school. It encouraged Penn to work with the School District of Philadelphia to open up empty seats to children out of Penn Alexander’s catchment.
The committee acknowledged that some students are “treated differently” for their political ideologies and outlined what is considered as bullying and whether students with different ideologies are bullied socially or in the classroom.
Committee on Academic and Related Affairs
The committee focused on two areas: undergraduate research and the Penn Bookstore. The committee said there is a large number of underreported undergraduate research projects. To correct this, the committee recommended this system of “supervised internships.” It suggested the development of a Canvas module for faculty to track and record students’ research activities.
To boost the relevance and presence of the Penn Bookstore, the committee suggested “idea events” that would be hosted in the bookstore to foster intellectual activity. It also suggested the creation of “information discoveries software” that could facilitate scientific communication.
University Committee on Committees
The Committee is charged with studying the effectiveness and quality of the various committees. It recommended improving committee member orientation, clarifying member roles, examining the distribution of specific charges to certain committees and continuing the practice of administrative feedback.
Traditionally, four focus issues are presented for the academic year. Academically, these two issues included undergraduate research and Penn’s local and global engagement. In terms of student life, the two focus issues included political life and ideologies and the issue of mental health.