SAC seeks to boost book fund
The Staff Association Council (SAC) is seeking more donors and more applicants for its Endowed Book Fund for Children of Staff.
The endowed fund, which was established in 2005, provides a $200 book stipend for Pitt undergraduates whose parents and/or guardians are University staff members.
The award is open to students University-wide, regardless of which campus they may attend or on which campus their parent works.
SAC President Deborah Walker told members at the Oct. 10 meeting that she would like to see 100 percent participation in donating to the book fund. Walker encouraged SAC members to give regularly, suggesting a basic commitment of $5 per month. “I don’t think we can afford not to do it,” she said. “These are our children.”
The book fund currently contains $16,877, said Jacki Keyes of Institutional Advancement in a brief presentation during the meeting.
Keyes said the fund has accumulated some assets that could enable SAC to consider presenting more awards or increasing the amount of each award. Three students received awards from the fund last year.
Keyes suggested soliciting donations beyond the University staff community as well. “People do give to Pitt. By giving to this you’re supporting Pitt staff members and their children,” she said.
Book fund committee chair Monica Costlow, who was not present at the meeting, told the University Times that the committee will focus first on soliciting donations from SAC members — many of whom already support the fund — and other Pitt staff.
“Books are very expensive,” she said. “The University is quite generous in providing tuition reimbursement to parents. This is a little extra we can provide as staff.” She said the committee would work in conjunction with Institutional Advancement to build the fund.
Increased efforts also are underway to raise awareness about the fund in order to increase applications from eligible students, Costlow said.
The approximately 890 Pitt students who have a parent on staff have been sent emails with details on applying for a book fund stipend, she said.
A link to details on the book fund is on the SAC home page at www.sac.pitt.edu.
In other business:
• SAC’s governance committee plans to present an amended bylaws document to members at the council’s November meeting. Recommended changes were presented to the steering committee in September.
Governance committee chair Lynn Rosen said members would have a month to review the proposed changes. Amendments to the bylaws would need to be submitted in writing in advance of the December meeting, when final approval of the bylaws is expected. She said only “friendly amendments” such as those designed to correct errors in the document would be accepted from the floor in December.
• Former SAC president Rich Colwell noted that staff concerns regarding the aftermath of the voluntary early retirement program for staff (VERP) had been addressed during SAC’s closed session.
“A lot of people are getting a lot of stress and a lot more work,” he said, adding that the staff had been “lean, thin and trim. And now we’re getting trimmer” following the departure last June of more than 350 staff who accepted the VERP deal.
Colwell said that staff are “overworked and stressed out to the extreme and somebody’s going to have to address it sooner or later.”
Because the VERP was designed to cut costs, it was expected that most of the VERP retirees would not be replaced.
Ron Frisch, associate vice chancellor for Human Resources, told the University Times that pinning down a specific number of hirees attributable to the VERP departures remains difficult.
He said that while a number of VERP participants’ positions went unfilled, “other positions have been posted or were filled over the past six months due to department/position restructuring; often times different from the VERP or at times combining the VERP responsibilities into other roles.”
Frisch said, “It is virtually impossible for us to match some of the new hires to former VERP recipients,” adding that posted staff positions are up slightly compared to last year at this time, but “on target” compared with two years ago.
• SAC’s next meeting is set for noon on Nov. 14 in 630 William Pitt Union.
—Kimberly K. Barlow