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The announcement that the two convicted sex offenders who had been working for the University would no longer be employed at Penn coincides with a University discussion about changing Penn's hiring and admissions policies that Provost Ron Daniels said is "well underway."

Daniels had previously confirmed the University's intentions to examine the possibility for changes in the hiring and admissions processes so that applicants can be better screened and so that the background-check policy is made less ambiguous.

Vice President for Human Resources Jack Heuer said the examination will use two review groups to look at "three topics of conversation."

One group, operating with Heuer's consultation, will examine potential hiring policy changes for staff. Another group, formulated by Executive Vice President Craig Carnaroli and placed under Daniels' supervision, will make appropriate revisions to the criminal background inquiry process for faculty and students.

Daniels explained that the revision efforts under his direction will be spearheaded by Associate Provost Andy Binns and by the faculty senate, which is led by Communications professor Vincent Price.

Binns, Daniels said, is "consulting broadly with . graduate and undergraduate deans," as well as with College Houses and Academic Services, to examine possible revisions to background inquiry policies for students.

Daniels said that he has written to Price and the faculty senate to "request their assistance in advising on an appropriate set of policies dealing with faculty and prior offenses."

But both Daniels and Heuer said that the review process may not necessarily make background checks more stringent across the board.

Heuer said that the review committees, rather than merely aiming to make background checks more thorough, will use their understanding of current background disclosure policies to determine the "level of activity" that is most appropriate for faculty, staff and student checks, respectively.

Daniels said the review process may be complete in only a few weeks. He warned, however, that the amount of time necessary to improve hiring and admissions policies "turns on the nature of the recommendations we receive and what kinds of changes are being proposed."

He added that the final proposal for policy changes will have to be approved by Penn President Amy Gutmann before it can be enacted.

But Heuer said that not all revisions to the proposal will have to await Gutmann's approval - indeed, some changes have already been made.

"While there's a larger process, there's also incremental" revisions being implemented all the time, he said.

The online employment application for staff, Heuer said, has already been strengthened in two ways: applicants who admit a felony conviction have to explain the nature of their conviction, and a line of text has been added which assures applicants that "a criminal conviction does not prohibit you from employment."

"We want to try to eliminate any ambiguity for the applicant," Heuer said.

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