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Penn's board of Trustees met last week and agreed to authorize $74.5 million to be spent renovating Hill College House. | DP File Photo

Credit: Luke Chen

Last week, the Penn Board of Trustees Budget and Finance Committee authorized $74.5 million to be spent renovating Hill College House, increasing the project’s total budget to $80.5 million. Other committees convening last week included those focusing on academic policy and student life. Here are some highlights:

Budget and Finance

On Nov. 4 and Nov. 5, Penn’s Board of Trustees held their fall meetings. The Budget and Finance Committee passed a number of resolutions, including this one, related to facilities projects around campus. It approved a new 20-year lease for the FMC Tower at 30th and Walnut streets, an expansion of the lease space and extension of the lease term at the Centre Square Building at 15th and Market streets, a replacement of the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system on the first floor of the Towne Building, a restoration of the concrete in Franklin Field and lease renewal for the Left Bank at 31st and Chestnut streets.

Academic Policy

Vice Provost for Faculty Anita Allen gave a presentation on the Provost’s Arts Advisory Council. The Council will build on the success of the three-year Penn Art and Culture Initiative, which culminated this year, and aims to develop collaborations between academic programs and art centers and provide interdisciplinary arts grants. The committee also discussed a need to increase the number of artists-in-residence and to involve Penn libraries in arts initiatives.

Dean of Admissions Eric Furda updated the committee on initiatives within Penn Admissions. He discussed Penn’s involvement in the new application website sponsored through the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success and high school outreach programs like the Penn Early Exploration Program and Ivy in Your Backyard.

Furda also discussed broader admissions trends, such as an increase in the number of applications from underrepresented minorities. He added that last year, the number of applicants in this pool interviewed by Penn was greater than the number of total applicants to Princeton.

Student Life

The Student Life committee focused on sexual violence as part of the administration’s efforts to address the results of the Association of American Universities’ Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct.

Vice Provost for Education Beth Winkelstein and Vice Provost for University Life Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum updated the committee on the administration’s response to the survey results, which includes outreach to deans and student groups. Executive Director for Education and Academic Planning Rob Nelson also discussed the expansion of the pre-orientation modules to all undergraduates.

Director of Student Sexual Violence and Prevention Jessica Mertz discussed the Anti-Violence Advocate Training program, which is offered to faculty and staff, and the Penn Anti-Violence Educators, a program in which students sign up to serve as active bystanders to prevent violence among their peers.

Director of Special Services Patricia Brennan clarified the policy of the Division of Public Safety: DPS will investigate cases involving Penn victims, regardless of where they occurred. Brennan also reported that there have been 11 rapes reported per federal guidelines since January, with a total number of reported rapes (including those not reported per federal guidelines) around 30. Brennan said that the number has risen since past years because students are becoming more comfortable with reporting crimes.

Staff Reporter Mitchell Chan contributed reporting.

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