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March 4, 2010

Senate Matters

University Senate Matters/Lisa Marie Bernardo

Your dharma is calling

As a yoga practitioner, I balance my life by following the four purusharthas: dharma (duty, responsibility); artha (prosperity); kama (pleasure), and moksha (pursuit of liberation).  It is from this perspective that I live my dharma (duty and responsibility) to the University, where I have worked for almost 17 years.

My responsibilities as a faculty member involve teaching, research, scholarship and service. Ten years ago I decided to expand my duty to Pitt by participating in faculty governance. I discussed various strategies for participating in faculty governance with my department chairperson, who encouraged me to seek election to a University Senate committee. I was elected to the Senate commonwealth relations committee and then to the Senate benefits and welfare committee. I served as secretary for both of these committees.

During the past three years, I have been privileged and honored to serve as secretary of the University Senate. My duties include attending, recording and transcribing monthly Faculty Assembly and Senate Council meeting minutes; serving as a liaison to Senate committees, and representing the faculty at University events. The pleasure and prosperity I have gained from the friendships, interactions with and knowledge of the University community have been inspirational and transformational. During my tenure as Senate secretary, I have mingled with new faculty, enjoyed Heinz Chapel Choir performances, stood in awe of the Tuskegee Airmen and listened attentively to the Russian and European Union presidents. I have represented the faculty on the freshman convocation, honors convocation and commencement platform parties. I have been privileged to meet distinguished faculty and alumni from around the world. I have experienced the passion of students, staff, faculty and administration in moving Pitt forward in triumph and tragedy. My service has taught me a great deal about the University’s mission and people, and I am grateful for the faith the faculty placed in me by electing me to office.  My service to the University opened me to a world of opportunities that deepened my understanding of duty, prosperity and pleasure. I am a richer person because of this experience.

Faculty governance is an important responsibility. As a nursing faculty member, I am fortunate to have a chairperson and dean who value this participation, as evidenced by the strong nursing faculty representation on Senate committees. Participating in faculty governance is one way to serve the University. Nominations currently are open for membership on Faculty Assembly and Senate committees, as well as for Senate officers. If you have not already self-nominated, you can contact the Senate Office ( to state your intentions. Compare your professional and personal goals with the available openings. Ask yourself how you can best serve your University. Nominate yourself for an open position. Your dharma is calling.

Lisa Marie Bernardo, associate professor in the School of Nursing, is secretary of the University Senate.

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