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February 17, 2011


envelopeMore on evaluation of department chairs

To the editor:

Anybody who read the article on the Faculty Assembly meeting debate over department chair evaluations (see Feb. 3 University Times) must think I am a fool: I certainly felt like one. Hence, I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight.

The article in question reported that when the issue of how often department chairs (and the deans of the various schools) are evaluated was broached at the Jan. 25 Faculty Assembly meeting, “there was some disagreement between faculty members and Andrew Blair, vice provost for Faculty Affairs.” Indeed, a few people took exception to Blair’s statement that, with the single exception of the School of Medicine, “All chairs across the University, including at the regional campuses, are evaluated three years after their last evaluation or three years following their year of appointment,” and that “deans are evaluated five years after their appointment or five years after their last evaluation.” After hearing this, I had to quickly search my memory: I remembered filling out, once, an on-line survey on the performance of my dean, but I could not recollect ever being called to evaluate any of the four chairs I served under in my department. I was reflecting upon this, as well as upon the soundness of the procedure, as described by Blair, when more comments were made. A member of the Assembly, who was not quoted in the article, and then the University Senate President Michael Pinsky asked whether the evaluation process had been kept private or had been made readily known to the faculty. Vice Provost Blair replied that there was/is nothing clandestine about the process: He insisted that faculty members know about it and are contacted for the evaluation of chairs and/or deans according to the schedule he had previously disclosed. “It’s not a sample,” he added. “Every eligible faculty member is asked to fill out the survey. We get very good response rates, incidentally.”

At this point, I felt compelled to raise my hand and say that if someone who had been at this University for 25 years had never once been asked to evaluate the heads of her department, there must be something amiss. My name was, of course, very visible on the card I had placed in front of me, as it is customary, before taking my place at the conference table. I did not, however, identify my unit nor my rank when I made my observation, my point being a general one: that perhaps faculty had not been involved in the drafting of this policy or that perhaps the existence and implementation of the process had not been publicized as it should have been. In response to my comment, rather than correcting my impression that these system-wide evaluations had been going on for a long time, Vice Provost Blair decided to ask me if I was tenured and what department I served. I was taken aback, I admit, and in my confusion I provided him with the information he requested. I do not blame him, more than I blame myself. There must be nothing more irresistible — for an administrator — than to be given the opportunity (and I did foolishly gave him the opportunity) to make a public issue into an individual and personal one, as it allows him to dismiss it. There must be something wrong with me if I had never heard of the policy for evaluation of department chairs; or there must be something wrong with my department if such review process did not take place and I appeared so eager to take advantage of it.

I found out only later, in followup correspondence with the president of the University Senate, that a system-wide leadership evaluation process only started in the spring of 2005, and that recent administrative switches have delayed this kind of review in my department. I am so relieved that there was/is nothing wrong with me or with my department. And now that I am cleared, I would like to kindly ask why details of the policy in question should not be accessible on each school’s web site? Why should a little more transparency be considered so detrimental as to be -— in this as in many other instances — so carefully avoided at this University?

Francesca Savoia

Associate Professor


Looking for something to do?

To the editor:

I recently launched an online event-listing web site called to help promote events organized by local organizations and businesses. In its short existence, our unique online service has attracted local Pittsburgh organizations such as Pittsburgh Vintage Grand Prix, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Enterprise Forum and The Hillman Center for Performing Arts, to name a few. was born after I learned about local non-profit organizations’ difficulties in promoting their activities to the local community due to their limited resources. Our aim is to promote events listed on our site by utilizing various marketing channels, including social media. We are also currently conducting email interviews on our blog at to showcase local organizations and businesses. Please feel free to forward my contacts to organizations and businesses that you think may be interested in being interviewed. is free for event organizers to list events and free for people who are interested in finding out what is going on in Pittsburgh. Our interactive features allow the general public to easily send inquiries and leave comments about events to facilitate communication with the event organizers. We also provide free weekly email newsletters that deliver the latest exciting events in Pittsburgh straight to our subscribers.

We hope people will find the site useful and personally, as a scientist, I hope to see more science-related events posted on

Submit your events by registering free today at

You can access our web site at, follow us on twitter at or on facebook at

If you have questions or comments, contact me at

Tony Hsieh

Microbiology and Molecular Genetics

School of Medicine

Consider regional faculty pay

To the editor:

In the “Senate Matters” column of Feb. 3, John Baker makes the point that Pitt’s annual salary increase pools for faculty have not been funded at a rate sufficient to prevent the development of significant negative salary compression in salaries of long-term faculty. In the same issue, University Times reported on a 2010 report of the National Association of College and University Business Officers that ranked Pitt’s endowment — over $2.03 billion on June 30, 2010 — as 28th among the 850 institutions surveyed in its Commonfund Study of Endowments, and seventh among all public universities in the nation.

Pitt’s failure to maintain faculty salaries at a level that would ensure equity and morale, not to mention maintain market competitiveness, has been a pervasive issue. But the problem of inadequate faculty salaries is nowhere felt as keenly as at Pitt’s four regional campuses. As a member of Pitt-Greensburg’s faculty since 2003, and immediate past-president of Pitt-Greensburg’s Faculty Senate, I submit that equitable salaries for Pitt’s 250 regional faculty has long been an issue. In their response to Baker’s column, Provost Patricia Beeson and CFO Arthur Ramicone aver that “at least 95 percent of the faculty who have been at Pitt since 1995 have received more than the maintenance component, and at least 85 percent have seen their salaries increase by more than the inflation rate.” That may be true at Pitt’s main campus, but may not be the case if we include faculty at Pitt’s regional campuses where, for example, salaries of full professors have increased only half as much over the 15 years as have salaries of full professors at Pitt’s main campus.

For example, the average salary of an assistant professor at Pitt-Greensburg in 2009-10, according to the AAUP salary survey, was $49,600. Bear in mind that a significant percentage of the 27 faculty holding the rank of assistant professor at Pitt-Greensburg are not newly hired, but hold non-tenureable three-year renewable contracts, and have remained at that rank for years, even decades. Even at this, the average salary of $49,600 ranked 276th among the 439 IIB Baccalaureate Institutions in the AAUP survey. By contrast, the average salary of an assistant professor at Pitt’s main campus for 2009-10 was $70,100.

I replicate below Baker’s table from his “Senate Matters” column, substituting average salary data for the four Pitt regional campuses. The number of faculty is also reported. The data in columns A-D present what average salary for each rank would have been in FY10 after receiving annual pay increases equal to (A) CPI-W; (B) maintenance component of Pitt’s annual salary pool increase; (C) both maintenance and merit, market and/or equity (MME) components of the annual salary pool increase, or (D) the full increase of Pitt’s annual salary pool. Also included for comparison are the average salaries for each rank of all the IIB schools for FY10. The final two columns present the percentage increase of salaries from FY95 to FY10 for each rank for the Pitt regional campuses, and the percentage increase of salaries for the same period for each rank at Pitt main campus. These columns suggest that while Baker correctly notes that long-term faculty salaries at Pitt are not keeping pace with the cost of living plus experience, the situation for long-term faculty salaries at the regional campuses is even more urgent. Comparisons of column D with the average FY10 salaries at the regional campuses, and regional faculty salaries with those of all other IIB schools in the AAUP report, show that faculty salaries at Pitt’s regionals are falling increasingly behind for all ranks, most noticeably for full professors, who likely have been employed at Pitt for the greatest number of years.

Beverly Ann Gaddy

Associate Professor Political Science



President Pitt chapter of AAUP


Click chart to download full-size pdf.

Patricia Beeson, provost and senior vice chancellor, and Arthur G. Ramicone, chief financial officer, respond:

The original salary analysis we conducted included faculty who have been at Pitt on any of our five campuses. Focusing exclusively on faculty at the regional campuses, we continue to observe a strong record of growth relative to inflation: 99 percent have received salaries that have outpaced the maintenance component of the salary pool since 1995, and 89 percent have received salaries that have outpaced inflation. Thus, the conclusion that salary growth has outpaced inflationary pressures for the vast majority of the faculty is broadly applicable across campuses.


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