Faculty Senate hears reports on H1N1, energy conservation

University Park, Pa. — Penn State's Faculty Senate gathered Tuesday for its first meeting of the 2009-10 academic year, receiving reports on preparations for potential H1N1 outbreaks across the University and Penn State's new energy conservation policy.

Margaret Spear, director of University Health Services, informed the senators that H1N1 influenza has so far most affected individuals under the age of 24, meaning that the University's greatest concern will be for its student population.

Spear emphasized that frequent hand washing is the most effective habit people can perform to help curb the spread of the flu. She added that although it will be challenging, the Centers for Disease Control strongly recommends that sick individuals self-isolate, or stay away from healthy people. Billie Willits, associate vice president for human resources, said faculty and staff should follow the same recommendations.

"These strategies are not intended to eliminate the virus, but to mitigate its effects," Spear said.

Jeremy Cohen, assistant vice president for undergraduate education, urged faculty to consider ways that sick students will be able to complete the semester's work, while Willits said staff and administrators should plan now for staff absences due to illness.

Seasonal flu shots will be available to all faculty and staff at Penn State, Spear said. She added that hand sanitizer will be widely available in locations across campuses and more stringent cleaning standards have been implemented in high-usage areas and dining commons.

For more information on H1N1 and Penn State, visit http http://flu.psu.edu.

Erik Foley, manager of sustainability programs, presented a report on AD-64, the University's new energy conservation policy aimed at reducing energy consumption to meet financial and environmental goals.

Penn State intends to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17.5 percent by 2012. Meanwhile, the utilities budget at University Park has been reduced by $1.5 million and by $375,000 at other campuses.

Foley noted that many of the policy's recommendations are common sense, "but not always common practice." Key elements include maximizing the use of natural daylight, turning off lights when they are not needed and using only task lighting when possible.

Additionally, the policy sets a new standard for thermostats of 70 degrees in the winter and 75 degrees in the summer while also discouraging the use of air conditioning units and portable heaters. Shared use of equipment and appliances, purchase of Energy Star equipment and turning off equipment when not in use are encouraged.

In laboratories, the sashes of fume hoods should be closed when not in use, and faculty should contact the Office of Physical Plant about unused fume hoods. For computers, Energy Star machines should be used and peripheral equipment should be turned off when not in use. Faculty and staff can work with their local IT departments to enable new power and IT management software that has the potential to save the University $500,000 annually.

AD 64 can be viewed online at http://guru.psu.edu/policies/AD64.html.

In other reports and actions:

• The Joint Committee on Insurance and Benefits issued its annual report for 2008-09, discussing healthcare benefits for faculty, staff and retirees, wellness initiatives, long-term care insurance, vision plan and retirement plans. The report can be downloaded at http://www.senate.psu.edu/agenda/2009-2010/Sept109/apph.pdf.

• Faculty Athletics Representative R. Scott Kretchmar presented an annual report on academic eligibility and athletic scholarships. The overall Graduation Success Rate (GSR) for Intercollegiate Athletics programs of 89 percent was well above the national Division I average of 78 percent. The overall GPA for all teams was 3.09, and student-athletes represented a wide variety of majors and programs. Brian Streeter, athletic director at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, reported on intercollegiate athletics at Penn State Behrend and John Fritz, director of Commonwealth Campus Athletics, submitted a report on the Penn State University Athletic Conference. To view the reports, go to http://www.senate.psu.edu/agenda/2009-2010/Sept109/appg.pdf.

• Willits and Blannie Bowen, vice provost for academic affairs, provided an overview of the 2008 Faculty/Staff Climate Survey. A report on the survey can be found at http://live.psu.edu/story/38426 and highlights are available online at http://facultystaffsurvey.psu.edu/.

• The Senate approved a change to its bylaws to clearly reflect the duties of the External Matters Subcommittee, explicitly naming the subcommittee and lengthening the term of office for members to two years to ensure continuity. A legislative report to allow for alternates for student senators was also accepted and will be voted on at the Oct. 20 Senate meeting.

The next Faculty Senate meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 20 in 112 Kern Building on the University Park campus. For more information on the University Faculty Senate visit http://www.senate.psu.edu/.

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Last Updated September 02, 2009