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May 15, 2003


Law faculty urge Pitt, PSU, Temple to grant health benefits to employees’ same-sex partners

(The following letter was sent to Pitt Chancellor Mark Nordenberg, Penn State President Graham Spanier and Temple President David Adamany and signed by 93 members of the schools’ law faculties.)

The announcement by Temple University that it has taken an initial step toward granting same-sex domestic partner benefits to its employees provides a most welcome opportunity for the public universities in Pennsylvania to join together in similar action and provide full same-sex domestic partner benefits to their employees. The time is right for all public universities in Pennsylvania to create a united front on this issue. As members of the law faculties of the University of Pittsburgh, The Pennsylvania State University and Temple University, we call upon our institutions to take the lead in creating this united front.

A truly great university must provide more than just academic excellence — it must also provide moral leadership. Pennsylvania’s new governor, Ed Rendell, has demonstrated such leadership through his strong record of support for same-sex domestic partner benefits during his term as mayor of Philadelphia, even in the face of strong opposition. Gov. Rendell has reaffirmed that position by indicating his support for any public university in Pennsylvania that deems these benefits necessary to remain competitive, and particularly singled out our home institutions in that statement of support because they are among the state’s largest employers. The University of Pittsburgh, Penn State, and Temple now need to follow Gov. Rendell’s example and exert moral leadership on this issue.

By providing full same-sex domestic partner benefits to their employees, these three universities can carry out the promises that they have made in their nondiscrimination policies. Each of these universities has adopted a nondiscrimination policy that states unequivocally that the university prohibits or pledges not to engage in discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation.

Providing these benefits will also undoubtedly serve the commonwealth’s interest. Treating all employees fairly and equitably will assist our universities and their regions in attracting and retaining young professionals — both gay and straight. As numerous corporations and other employers have determined, offering same-sex domestic partner benefits is necessary to remain competitive in drawing and retaining employees. These employers’ experiences also show that the cost of providing these benefits is very modest. In addition, studies have documented the positive relationship between a region’s openness to diversity — including its openness to gays and lesbians and same-sex couples — and its potential for economic growth.

The step taken by Temple now means that no other university will stand alone on this issue. A joint effort undertaken by the leadership of the University of Pittsburgh, Penn State, and Temple, with other public universities joining in, can thwart those who might choose to move against any individual school acting on its own. Such a joint effort would also fulfill the expressed interest of Chancellor Nordenberg to work together with his counterparts on this most pressing issue, an interest that Presidents Adamany and Spanier appear to share. The likelihood that a joint effort would be successful is further enhanced by the landslide victory of Gov. Rendell whose election marks a decidedly favorable change in the political climate in Harrisburg with respect to this issue.

We call on our universities to provide full same-sex domestic partner benefits to their employees. The time for action is now. The decision is one of long overdue equity, of significant community benefit, and of very modest budgetary cost.

Anthony C. Infanti


Lu-in Wang

University of Pittsburgh

School of Law

(Editor’s note: This letter also was signed by 30 other Pitt School of Law faculty members, 23 faculty members from Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law and 38 faculty members from Temple University’s James E. Beasley School of Law.)

Robert Hill, vice chancellor of Public Affairs, issued the following reply to the law faculty members’ letter:

The University continues to be guided by the report of the Special Committee on Domestic Partner Health Insurance Benefits. The report, unanimously endorsed by the 12-member committee, recommended that the chancellor initiate discussions of this important issue with his fellow university presidents to work toward a common solution with respect to granting of these benefits. He has done that and will continue to do so.


Swank photos, info sought

To the editor:

In the mid-1930s, the University of Pittsburgh was the first to offer courses in photojournalism. The instructor, Luke Swank, was a Johnstown native who had been Pitt’s official photographer in 1935.

Carnegie Museum of Art will be presenting a survey exhibition of Swank’s photography in Spring 2005, and is currently seeking collectors of Swank’s photography or anyone with information on his life or career to create a more complete biography.

While teaching at the University of Pittsburgh, Swank had a studio in the Cathedral of Learning. He was highly regarded at the time for his use of light, angles and shadows to depict everyday scenes. His work included industrial themes, local architecture and residential life throughout southwestern Pennsylvania. As one of the first to work with photography as an artistic medium, Swank was exhibited throughout the 1930s at galleries in New York, including shows at the Museum of Modern Art and a solo exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery. In 1937, he left the University to open a studio Downtown, where he supplemented his personal, artistic works with projects for the H.J. Heinz Company and Kaufmann’s Department Store. His early death in 1944, however denied him the notoriety of his contemporaries, such as Walker Evans, Edward Weston and Bernice Abbot.

Anyone with information about Swank can contact me at 412/622-1908 or

Linda Batis

Associate Curator of Fine Arts

Carnegie Museum of Art

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