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May 17, 2012

Pitt considers other cost-saving measures

Provost Patricia E. Beeson discussed briefly with the University Times some other areas of cost-cutting that the University is considering.

In a Jan. 6 memo, Beeson gave Pitt deans and administrators a March 15 deadline for submitting cost-cutting suggestions for her to present to the University Planning and Budgeting Committee. (See Jan. 26 University Times.)

“Some of the things that people discussed in the memos that were sent to me in March are among the things that are going to be moved along because of the VERP and because of the [arts and sciences] budget cuts,” she said.

In addition to already-announced changes including the staff voluntary early retirement program, a halt on graduate admissions to three Arts and Sciences programs and a reduction in future commitments in the natural sciences, Beeson said sustainability initiatives including expanded paperless systems are being examined.

“There’s a lot of communication between departments and units that happens on paper right now and we’re looking at those processes to see which ones are best suited to early on move to paperless,” Beeson said, noting that the suggestion has been made “from around the different schools as one major way that we can save resources.” She said the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid has gone paperless and that her office is moving in that direction as well.

“It’s not as easy as it sounds. Just to implement it takes the right technology, and that has to be customized to the individual processes,” she said.

She said the administration would like to boost the use of “Read Green,” which replaces paper announcements to faculty and staff with email messages. “We’re looking at how we might encourage more of that and less of the paper,” she said.

Administrators continue to look to Pitt students for input as well. “The students have a lot of great ideas,” Beeson said, citing student-driven projects to add recycling stations and install low-flow water fixtures in University housing. “They see a lot of the stuff that we don’t see that could be done.”

—Kimberly K. Barlow

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