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May 14, 1998

Faculty Assembly votes to recognize medical school association

By a unanimous vote May 5, Faculty Assembly recognized the Faculty Association of the School of Medicine (FASM) as a legitimate faculty organization promoting shared governance in the medical school.

This winter, a group of senior medical professors revived FASM (originally formed in 1976 but dormant since 1991) with the stated purpose of defending faculty rights and economic interests, and promoting teaching, academic research and faculty participation in school governance.

Those interests and activities are at risk, the professors say, as officials from Pitt, UPMC Health System and the new University of Pittsburgh Physicians (UPP) unified practice plan negotiate a financial relationship through which the health system will absorb UPP. See April 16 and April 30 University Times.

In response to a survey by FASM organizers, 274 of the medical school's 1,300 full-time faculty members said they favored reviving the faculty association. About 25 professors called such an organization unnecessary.

FASM leaders plan to recruit members through an e-mailing this week. George Michalo-poulos, interim medical dean, opposes FASM but has allowed the association to use the school's collective e-mail system for communicating with faculty.

Despite this, FASM leaders asked the University-wide Faculty Assembly to endorse what might be called a pre-emptive statement opposing administrative interference in FASM or in professors' free speech rights.

Assembly members unanimously approved the following: "The Faculty Assembly strongly endorses the right of all faculty to freely express their views and to engage in freedom of assembly for purposes of dealing with faculty issues. We strenuously object to any attempts to abridge these freedoms by controlling the content of publicly disseminated messages, using electronic or any other media."

— Bruce Steele

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