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Council of Deans/Council of Undergraduate Deans
Records, 1896 - 1975

UPA 11

1 Cubic ft.
Prepared by Theresa R. Snyder

Access to collections is granted in accordance with the Protocols for the University Archives and Records Center.


Board of Deans materials found in Archives in 1979 (79:41) and transferred by Marion Malakoff, 1987 (87:25). Committee of Deans and Directors and Committee of Undergraduate Deans transferred by R. Jean Brownlee, 1980 (80:17).



The Board of Deans was established in 1894 and consisted of the Provost, Vice-Provost, and the Deans of several Faculties. The board was called to attend to administrative business affecting the whole University, and in particular, the interests of the Faculties. Initially the board was concerned with athletic eligibility; student fees and use of Houston Hall; codes of conduct and disciplinary procedures in dormitories; oversight of student organizations; financial arrangements for interdisciplinary programs of study; minimal attendance requirements; authority of the Deans over the officials of the Athletic Department; and circumstances under which tuition fees might be returned or credited to future semesters. By 1898 the board was concerned with broader issues such as residence in dormitories and the extension of the University’s influence.

In the 1920s, under Provost Josiah Penniman, the Board enlarged to include the Provost, two Vice-Provosts, twelve Deans, the Adviser of Women, and the Directors of the Physical Education Department, the Library, the Military Department, and the School of Hygiene. Undergraduate students and university life, (rather than academic, budget, development, or physical plant planning), dominated the work of the Board during this time. It was not until the 1950s, with Penn’s long-range planning effort as outlined in “The Educational Survey,” did the Deans play a more proactive role in this type of planning. By 1960 the Board expanded to thirty-one members and was known as the Committee of Deans and Directors. The Committee focused on issues relevant to academic affairs and university life, but also considered planning and budgetary issues servings in an advisory capacity to the Provost and President.

As a result of larger administrative problems, the Committee of Deans and Undergraduate Directors formed a smaller sub-committee known as the Council of Undergraduate Deans in 1963. Originally comprised of six members (the Assistant Vice-President for Undergraduate Affairs in the School of Engineering, the Deans of the College, the College of Liberal Arts, the School of Allied Medical Professions, the School of Nursing, and the Wharton School), by 1972 the Committee also included the Dean of Students, the Director of the College of General Studies, and the Vice-Provost for Undergraduate Studies. The committee further expanded in 1975 to include the Dean of Admissions, the Director of Residential Programs, and the University Registrar. At this time the Committee played an instrumental role in the creation of the position of Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies and University Life.

The Council of Undergraduate Deans and the Committee of Deans and Undergraduate Directors covered a range of University interests from academic and university life issues to long-range planning. With the Hackney administration, in 1981, the Council was trimmed down; attendance was limited to the Provost, Associate Provosts, and the Deans and the topics were restricted to subjects within their immediate spheres of responsibilities.



The records, 1896-1975, of the Council of Deans and the Council of Undergraduate Deans include a digest of actions, 1896-1902, and minutes and supporting papers from 1914 to 1975 and represent the full range of responsibilities for these two University agencies throughout that period.

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