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November 11, 2010

University Senate Matters: Freshman Update

The three Faculty Assembly freshman representatives we are following this year checked in after the Oct. 5 meeting, which included reports by Senate presidents from three of the regional campuses. These reports prompted a general discussion about the underprepared student.

• Colleen Culley, School of Pharmacy:

“I found the common threads between all the regionals and main campus interesting — faculty morale, difficulties in economic times, taxed resources and student performance. I would concur with the comments by the other faculty, including those from the medical school. I think that we see similar characteristics in our students. We also have intelligent students that have some different challenges and barriers. It seems that the demands for the students’ time outside school are greater (e.g. work, organizations). I think we would concur with the issues raise,d regarding math and writing skills.

“I appreciated the comment about being in the age of super-specialized individuals. I think that we (faculty) try sometimes to specialize the students. Rather, we need to step back and remember that we are trying to create well-rounded individuals with general knowledge and competencies and the potential to specialize in the future.

“Really good and lively discussion!”

• Willie Elliott, School of Social Work:

“At this point, I find that I am more of an observer on the Faculty Assembly. This may be because it is my first year and only the second meeting or it may be because the issue this month did not relate as much to the main campus. As an observer on the Faculty Assembly it is interesting to see how certain members seem to have the final say on each issue. Not unusual in group dynamics, and maybe even appropriate given time and investment that these members make to the committee. Really, these are random thoughts at this point, do not really know what to make of them, just thoughts that popped into my head at the meeting. Overall, I thought the meeting went well. It was nice to hear what other Pitt campuses are doing and some of the struggles they face. I guess this first year will be about figuring out my role; this also may be appropriate.”

• Kevin Kearns, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, was unable to attend and wrote the next day:

“I’m hosting a delegation of Nigerian executives all week for training in ethics and corporate governance. I could not break away from them yesterday.”

Patricia Weiss is vice president of the University Senate.

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