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October 1, 1998


Many sexual harassment cases go unreported

To the editor:

Thank you for Peter Hart's informative article on sexual harassment issues and procedures at the University (Sept. 17, 1998 University Times). I would like to clarify one significant detail. I was quoted as saying that there are "perhaps" unreported cases of sexual harassment. There unquestionably are many instances of harassment that go unreported, no doubt more than the number that are brought to the attention of the University. That is one reason why it is so vital to work to prevent harassment from occurring, and to provide effective avenues of relief for those who do come forward. Thank you for helping to provide accurate and important information to the University community about this critical issue.

John G. Greeno

Assistant Vice Chancellor Human Resources


Administrator and faculty relations in FAS said to be deteriorating

To the editor:

I am leaving Pitt at the end of this term for the University of Michigan.

My main reason for leaving is my distress at what seems to me to be an accelerating tendency toward deterioration of collegial relations between administrators and faculty at this university, at least within FAS. The most visible signs of this process are the insensitivity of administrators to faculty concerns and the drastic erosion of faculty governance in FAS. Here are a few recent examples.

In a classic example of the operation of Parkinson's Law, the population of the dean's office has exploded as the size of the faculty has shrunk. The dean and his numerous subordinates, with an increased secretarial staff, now deal with the business of a diminished, financially stressed faculty. The quarters in which this bloated administration is housed have undergone more or less continuous redecorating for years, so that they now resemble a corporate palace. These changes send a discouraging message to departments struggling with minuscule operating budgets and vanishing secretarial staff (whisked away by administrators who decide without investigation how much work there is to be done in the departments).

FAS Council, the main elected faculty committee in the school, has become largely or entirely irrelevant to FAS governance. I first served on the council in 1980-83, during Dean Jerome Rosenberg's tenure. At that time, the council met frequently and was asked to consider significant matters; and the dean took our advice. I was elected to FAS Council again last fall, and since then it has been convened rarely — exactly once during the entire spring term of 1997-98, for instance –and has been given almost no business to deal with, certainly nothing of much significance. The dean of FAS chairs FAS Council. During Dean Rosen-berg's tenure the second-in-command, the vice chair, was elected by the faculty members of council. No more: Under Dean Peter Koehler, the vice chair was one of his appointed deanlets.

The sole 1998 spring term meeting of FAS Council featured Dean-to-be John Cooper, who asked us — without irony and with great and repeated emphasis on the fact that the power to make this momentous decision rested entirely with the faculty — to decide to modify the FAS bylaws to change the titles "Dean of CAS" and "Dean of FAS Graduate Programs" to "Associate Dean" — that is, to bring the bylaws into line with a previous decision, already made and implemented by the administration, to demote these two deans to associate deans.

Committees consisting largely of elected faculty members have long been responsible for preparing slates of nominees for FAS deans' positions, not only for the dean of FAS but also for the dean of CAS and the dean of FAS Graduate Programs. But the change in the titles of the two sub-deans turns out to have removed these vitally important positions from the list of FAS matters on which faculty have some say. One of Dean Cooper's first official acts was to ask for the resignation of the associate dean of CAS — who had been nominated by a faculty committee and who had at least a year remaining in his appointed term of office — and to appoint his, Dean Cooper's, own nominee. He did consult with faculty, in a way: The members of FAS Council were summoned on May 18 (without warning) to a May 20 meeting to consider Dean Cooper's nominee for this position. The degree to which he sought and valued faculty advice is indicated not only by the super-short notice of this meeting but also by the fact that council was given no information whatsoever about the identity or qualifications of the nominee before the meeting (on the grounds that confidentiality was vital at that stage), and by the fact that Dean Cooper's May 20 memo announcing the appointment made it clear that the appointment must have been fully arranged with the provost before any "consultation" with FAS Council.

Under Dean Rosenberg's leadership, the dean's-level ad-hoc tenure committees deliberated independently, and their votes were invariably taken seriously: According to figures published annually in the FAS Gazette, Dean Rosenberg never promoted a candidate on a vote less favorable than 4-2 for promotion. The dean was present at the meetings, but faculty committee members chose the committee chair, and the dean did not express his personal views about the case. Not so under Dean Koehler: He and his sub-dean sometimes expressed their own views about the proper disposition of a case at the very beginning of a committee meeting, and they would also argue against views expressed by faculty committee members; he sometimes ignored committee votes (at least once promoting a candidate after a faculty committee vote of 5 against, 1 for); and on occasion he himself chose the committee chair before the meeting, without so much as a nod to the long-established faculty privilege of selecting the chair. It is of course possible that Dean Cooper will have a different view of faculty governance, but given the pattern he has already demonstrated, it's hard to feel optimistic.

These examples could easily be multiplied, and they are symptomatic of the reality that many faculty members have felt forced to recognize: an administration that cares as little for the education of students and for the quality of faculty research as it does for a substantive faculty role in governance issues that are directly related to education and research.

Of course I'm not the first faculty member to give up on Pitt because of the direction its administration has chosen; I know of several others who have left, or will leave, in this year alone. For the sake of my good friends and good colleagues here, I hope that the spreading unhappiness indicated by (among other things) the defection of senior faculty members will lead to changes for the better, so that the trickle of departures won't become a flood.

Sarah Thomason

Professor Department of Linguistics


I regret that Professor Thomason has chosen to leave the University of Pittsburgh; given her long service and the intellectual distinction that she has achieved it is particularly sad that she does so with such frustration. The changes that I proposed in the FAS bylaws were intended to achieve two purposes: 1) to move the FAS election schedule from the fall to the spring to allow FAS to begin the fall term with faculty committees in place whose membership will be constant throughout that academic year; 2) to make wording changes where the bylaws refer to the titles of administrative positions to bring the bylaws into conformity with the FAS administrative structure adopted in 1996 on the recommendation of a hard-working faculty committee. The changes in no way altered the fundamentals of the central role that elected faculty committees play in FAS and CAS governance. The 1996 changes in the administrative structure of FAS are important (and incidentally reduced the FAS and CAS staff by 13 positions). The effect of the changes on the role of faculty in FAS governance should be, however, to increase faculty involvement by improving the coordination of decisions in undergraduate, graduate, and faculty affairs. The opportunity for improved coordination is most simply symbolized by my appointment as dean of the Faculty and College of Arts and Sciences–this will allow me to work more effectively with all of the elected faculty committees that play a central role in FAS and CAS governance. In addition to FAS Council, these include the FAS Planning and Budgeting Committee (whose introduction at the beginning of this decade did change the traditional governance role of FASC), the Graduate Council, the CAS Council and, of course, the Tenure Council. I look forward to working in a collegial fashion with all of the faculty who have agreed to contribute their time and experience to these bodies as we tackle the challenges and opportunities that face us. I do not share Professor Thomason's pessimism about the state of FAS. We have, indeed, gone through difficult years, and we must continue to make difficult decisions about how resource allocations can be best used to achieve our objectives and priorities. We are, however, beginning to make progress: Undergraduate enrollments this fall have exceeded our 9,200 target for the first time since September 1993; the academic qualifications of the CAS entering class are improving each year; retention of returning students has improved; we have been able to restore the FAS departmental operating budgets to their previous levels; we project that the FY99 budget will be balanced, and, as the benefits of the early retirement program become available, we intend to increase support for faculty research and scholarship, the undergraduate curriculum and graduate education.

These successes are the achievements of the faculty. They reflect the expertise, hard work and creativity of the faculty through difficult times. A key to taking the next step will be to ensure that the engagement of faculty in their own research, scholarship and teaching is mirrored by creative engagement in FAS governance — I will do my best to facilitate that.

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