Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Planning for Post-Pandemic Penn


The Faculty Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Planning for Post-Pandemic Penn (P4) was established in April 2020 by the Senate Executive Committee.

The pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus, SARS-COV-2, has created unprecedented challenges for universities. Beyond the exigencies of the moment, Penn is being faced with the need to make consequential decisions involving trade offs in an arena characterized by high levels of uncertainty and evolving information. P4 has been established as an ad hoc committee of SEC to bring the intellectual resources and insights of faculty from across the schools to bear on discussions, planning, and decisions regarding post-pandemic Penn.

The core members of P4 bring not only substantial faculty leadership experience but also a complementary range of intellectual skills and experiences to the task at hand. P4 will launch in spring 2020 and continue for as long as practicably necessary. As its two central missions, P4 will —1) gather and integrate ideas, insights, information, and knowledge from the faculty across campus into a deliberative process about ways to address the challenges facing the University, and 2) work collaboratively with related committees created by the Office of the Provost on the issues of relevance to the faculty.

While the core group will necessarily remain small, over time, P4 will expand its membership by forming subcommittees that will work in parallel and develop ways to tap the insights and expertise of the faculty.

P4’s fundamental charge is to gather information, deliberate on what should be done, and facilitate the navigation of the interests of Penn and its faculty related to the COVID-19 pandemic and in preparation for other large scale crises.

P4 will report its findings and recommendations to the Senate Executive Committee periodically. P4 will consult members of the Penn community and will recommend expansion of its membership roster to the Senate Tri-Chairs, as appropriate.

P4 will serve as a deliberating intermediary between the Faculty Senate and the committees constituted by the University. P4 will identify from among its membership individuals who will serve on any committees that are created as part of the Penn administration’s Recovery Planning Groups to undertake planning and policy development post-pandemic.

Among its foci, P4 will address broad questions that include:

  • How should both near-term and longer-term transitions in response to the pandemic be managed, in terms of overall process as well as concrete steps?
  • How can Penn best prepare for future large-scale disasters?
    • What are the likely long-term scenarios for the University and what are their policy consequences?
    • Will a substantial reorientation of the University be necessary?
  • How can the University, schools, and faculty best protect the health and economic wellbeing of our faculty, staff, and students while also effectively fulfilling our missions as teachers, scholars, and citizens of the University and protecting the long term survivability of Penn?
  • Recognizing the necessity of trade offs among competing values, how should allocations of various resources with the schools, the centers, and the entire university be made?

P4 will also focus on more specific issues involving how to safely and effectively educate and generate knowledge in a pandemic-shaped world. These include, without limitation:

  • Should faculty who are uncomfortable returning to campus for any reason be able to request remote teaching and committee work only?
  • What resources are needed for sustainable online delivery of educational instruction?
    • Which courses are well suited to online and which are not?
    • What can be learned from the courses delivered online during the spring 2020 semester to identify those that work well and those that do not?
    • How should these decisions be made - at the school level or the University level?
  • How should courses be organized to enhance the educational experience for all?
    • Should some courses be suspended while others are enhanced by additional faculty support to run smaller in person recitation sections?
    • Should run synchronous online and in class sessions be offered, and should students be divided into two groups who alternate in class attendance?
  • How can limited central University resources (e.g., financial, material, human capital, etc.) be most effectively and efficiently shared among the Schools?
  • Which work can be reclassified to adjust to rapidly evolving emergency situations?
    • What types of work performed by Penn personnel require hands-on, in-person performance?
    • What types of work can be performed with a modest degree of social distancing?
    • What types of work can be easily performed remotely?
  • Should instruction and content alternatives be reexamined?
    • What are the interests and requirements of the relevant stakeholders, especially faculty and students?
    • What should be the policy for communicating with stakeholders and garnering their assent?
    • At what level of decision-making should these policies be made?
  • Anita Allen (Law)
  • Peter Cappelli (Wharton)
  • Chenoa Flippen (SAS/Sociology)
  • Howard Kunreuther (Wharton)
  • Jennifer Pinto-Martin (Nursing), Chair
  • Harvey Rubin (PSOM/Medicine)
  • Santosh Venkatesh (SEAS/ESE)
  • Michael Weisberg (SAS/Philosophy)
  • Bethany Wiggin (SAS/Germanic Lang. & Lit.)

Ex Officio:

  • William Braham (Weitzman), Faculty Senate Chair-Elect
  • Kathleen Hall Jamieson (Annenberg), Faculty Senate Chair
  • Steven Kimbrough (Wharton), Faculty Senate Past Chair