Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

May 11, 1995

Health Science schools to remain under Provost Area, Maher says

Provost James Maher last week denied rumors that Pitt's six Health Sciences schools are seceding from the Provost's Area.

What is happening, according to Maher, is that fiscal managers from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and the lower campus are sorting through the tangle of financial relationships among the Health Sciences schools, UPMC and the central administration in order to clarify the budget-making authority of the senior vice chancellor for Health Sciences.

The clarification, which involves making the Pitt and UPMC accounting systems more compatible, is "pretty far along," Maher said in a May 4 interview. "I expect this to take effect soon." During the current search for a new Health Sciences senior vice chancellor, "it became apparent that we needed to clarify what the sources of money for the Health Sciences schools were — how much University money the schools receive, how much money they get from clinical practice plans and UPMC hospitals, and so forth," Maher said.

Thomas Detre, who plans to retire as Health Sciences senior vice chancellor this summer after 21 years at Pitt (10 of them as senior vice chancellor), has carried a lot of this information in his head, Maher said.

"Because of his long tenure at the University, Dr. Detre knew all the details of the UPMC system and the practice plan system and the University system, and he was able to understand what all was there," said Maher. "But to an outsider, our system can look pretty complicated. It has been very helpful in trying to recruit a new senior vice chancellor to be able to lay out more exactly what monies have always been available over there [in the Health Sciences] and exactly what authority the senior vice chancellor has." According to members of the search committee that tried, unsuccessfully, in 1993 to recruit a successor for Detre, a major handicap in that effort was the perception that a new Health Sciences senior vice chancellor — lacking Detre's experience and power base here — will be in a weak position, being subordinate to both the provost and the UPMC president. A new search, launched last year, yielded finalists now being considered by Chancellor J. Dennis O'Connor. Regarding future academic relations between the Health Sciences and the Provost's office, Maher emphasized: "There will be no change in the academic organization structure of the University. There has been no secession [of the Health Sciences] from the rest of the University, and there will be no reduction in the curricular ties, and the tenure and academic freedom ties, between the Health Sciences and my office." The Provost's office will continue to review Health Sciences tenure and faculty promotion decisions, as well as curriculum changes and alleged violations of tenure and academic freedom in the Health Sciences schools, Maher said.

Health Sciences deans should not expect any budget windfalls or cuts because of the fiscal clarification, the provost said.

During a discussion prior to the May 2 Faculty Assembly meeting, several Assembly members suggested that the budget clarification represents a UPMC attempt to gain power over the Health Sciences at the expense of the Provost's office. But Maher said, "There's no truth to that."

— Bruce Steele

Leave a Reply