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March 8, 2012

Pitt compiles cost-cutting report

A report documenting the University’s recent belt-tightening efforts states that more than 70 full-time faculty positions have been cut over the past four years and that more than 80 full-time staff positions and eight full-time librarians have been eliminated since fiscal year 2009.

The figures are part of a 56-page cost containment efforts report that details $180 million in cost-cutting at Pitt in FY2009-12. The report can be found by clicking on “efficiency and cost-cutting” at

The report does not specify which units pared faculty and staff positions.

Nor would the administration detail where cuts were made. In response to University Times questions, John Fedele, associate director of News, stated, “The savings achieved by eliminating positions are pervasive throughout the University in all of the super-responsibility centers.”

According to the report, other savings were realized by:

  • limiting spending for travel, meetings, events, supplies and resources;
  • improving contract negotiation and purchasing practices;
  • converting to digital and leveraging information technology;
  • centralizing operations;
  • adopting energy-saving and energy-efficiency measures;
  • improving utilization of space;
  • increasing staff productivity;
  • changing health and retirement benefits, and
  • seeking additional revenue sources.

Following the state’s move to freeze $6.8 million in funding for Pitt due to sluggish revenue collections, Provost Patricia A. Beeson, in a Jan. 6 memo, asked Council of Deans members, Executive Vice Chancellor and General Counsel Jerome Cochran and Chief Financial Officer Arthur Ramicone to detail recent cost savings and solicit additional cost-cutting proposals from departmental planning and budgeting committees or other governance committees and to submit their recommendations to the University Planning and Budget Committee by March 15. (See Jan. 26 University Times.)

In a press conference after the Feb. 24 Board of Trustees meeting, Ramicone said the recommendations are being examined. “We’re currently compiling those and taking a look but we won’t have that all sorted out for about another month,” he said.

In response to a University Times question regarding renewed rumors about an early retirement plan for faculty and/or staff, Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg said it was too early to say whether such a plan may be in the works. “Obviously that is an option that you’re always looking at and weighing in times like this, but it would be premature to say anything about it,” he said.

The University approved an early retirement incentive plan for tenured faculty in October 1997, specifying at the time that it would be the last plan of its kind at Pitt. (See Oct. 23, 1997, University Times.) More than 40 percent of 381 eligible faculty members took advantage of the deal, which required them to retire between July 1998 and May 1999.

—Kimberly K. Barlow

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