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November 10, 2005

Senate committees report at Faculty Assembly

Faculty Assembly heard a flurry of reports from University Senate officers and standing committee chairs Nov. 1.

In her president’s report, Irene Frieze said that the draft of Pitt’s revised copyright policy has been approved by the Senate computer usage and library committees, and is awaiting a sign-off from the Provost’s office for implementation as formal policy.

Frieze also reported that Registrar Samuel Conte has extended an open invitation to faculty to advise the administration on questions, problems or suggestions related to the new PeopleSoft student records system, particularly the on-line grading component that currently is being implemented. (See Sept. 15 University Times.)

Interested faculty should contact Conte at 4-7600 or by e-mail: Conte is considering setting up an informational hotline for PeopleSoft users, Frieze added.

* Fall 2006 plenary session

Assembly members approved a proposal from Ellen Olshansky for the fall 2006 Senate plenary session. The session, tentatively called “Development of a University-Wide Mentoring Program for Faculty at Pitt,” will include related workshops on mentoring experiences, as well as a nationally known keynote speaker. Dates for the plenary session and workshops have not been set yet.

Olshansky said that a number of Pitt administrators, including the chancellor and the provost, have agreed to participate in the plenary session.

Plans for the session are being developed by the ad hoc Senate committee on women at Pitt’s mentoring subcommittee, of which Olshansky is co-chair.

* Admissions and student aid

The admissions and student aid committee is gathering data on the number of children of faculty and staff who use Pitt’s tuition benefits. “The Staff Association Council is also looking into this,” said committee chair Patrick Smolinsky. “According to folks at Human Resources, there is the impression among employees that their children will automatically be admitted to Pitt’s main campus. That is not the case.” However, most children of employees are admitted to one of Pitt’s five campuses, Smolinsky added.

* Athletics

The athletics committee again will evaluate a request from the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics (COIA) for Pitt to join its membership. COIA is a national coalition of faculty senates advocating comprehensive reform of NCAA Division I-A athletics.

After considerable debate, Pitt has refused to join COIA for the last two years.

Frieze said that Pitt again has been invited to join and the athletics committee is getting information from member schools before it will submit a report at a future Assembly meeting.

* Bylaws and procedures

The Senate bylaws and procedures committee is focused on two areas, according to committee chair Ted Rice. The committee is examining whether representation in Faculty Assembly should be adjusted to be more proportional to the current composition of faculty in academic units.

Under current bylaws, four components of the University have elected members on Faculty Assembly: the School of Arts and Sciences (five elected faculty members from each of three divisions); professional schools (two elected faculty members from each non-science professional school and from the University Library System); Health Sciences schools (two members from each school and from the Health Sciences Library System), and regional campuses (two faculty members from each regional).

If the number of faculty within a unit of any of the four components is greater than 100, that unit gets one additional elected member on Assembly.

Assembly members have argued that one additional member is not adequate for some units, such as the School of Medicine which has more than 1,600 faculty compared to some other Health Sciences schools with about 75 faculty.

Rice said the bylaws committee also is looking at whether the eight meetings per year required for Senate Council and for Faculty Assembly should be reduced, increased or remain the same. Several Assembly members at the Nov. 1 meeting spoke in support of the current eight-meeting minimum.

* Community relations

The community relations committee reported on the availability of 25 mini-grants ($2,000 each), to be awarded through the Coro Center for Civic Leadership, for service-learning projects selected from regional higher education institutions.

The grants are designed to support faculty interested in developing engaged scholarship and service-learning through a new regional service-learning demonstration initiative funded by a group of local foundations.

According to community relations committee chair Linda Hartman, proposals to secure a grant are due by Dec. 15 to Linda Dickerson, Suite 240, Gateway Towers, 320 Fort Duquesne Blvd., Pittsburgh 15222.

Electronic copies of the mini-grant applications are available from Tracy Soska of Pitt’s School of Social Work via e-mail at or by calling 412/624-3711.

The community relations committee intends to work with the tenure and academic freedom committee to address the academic merit of service-based education and mentoring. Faculty Assembly plans to discuss this more fully at future meetings.

* Educational policies

The educational policies committee (EPC) will revisit issues related to part-time faculty that were revealed in a survey the committee oversaw a few years ago. Those issues include whether contracts for part-timers should be lengthened beyond one year and whether part-time faculty should be granted voting membership on Faculty Assembly and other University governance entities.

EPC also will review the tenure and academic freedom committee’s report on trends in tenure and non-tenure stream appointments at Pitt.

* Student affairs

Teresa Donegan, co-chair of the student affairs committee, reported that 18 percent of Pitt’s first-year students and 25 percent of undergraduates overall have no medical insurance coverage. Pitt undergrads are covered for basic student health services by paying the mandatory student health fee but are not covered for serious injury, she noted.

Allergy injections, routine lab work and contraception options are covered by the fee, as well as certain specialty services such as dermatology, gynecology and orthopaedics. Lab work, X-rays, immunizations, prescription drugs and treatment or services provided outside the Student Health Service office are not covered by the fee.

Officials in the Division of Student Affairs are considering requiring that all students demonstrate that they have health insurance coverage, similar to what is required for faculty and staff, Donegan said. “We’re continuing to benchmark other schools,” she said. “CMU, for example, mandated this 18 months ago. If Pitt instituted a mandate, we’re looking at what procedures are in place for that or what might be needed.”

Nicholas Bircher, past president of the Senate, urged the committee to look into plans similar to what Pitt, now self-insured, offers employees under the UPMC Health Plan, rather than allow widespread use of third-party insurers.

Donegan said her committee also is gathering data on accessibility to student health services, such as counseling and other mental health services.

* Recreational facilities

Marilyn Ross, facilities coordinator/co-director, Department of Health and Physical Activity, whose unit coordinates recreational facilities and related programs campus-wide, reported to the Assembly on plans for new facilities that will be open to faculty and staff.

Bellefield Hall will see a number of new recreational facilities open next summer, including a “cardio room” with treadmills, elliptical machines and stationary bicycles, and a large multi-purpose dance studio for step aerobics, yoga and exercise sessions and classes, open to faculty and staff as well as students.

She added that there are scores of activities, classes, facilities and opportunities already available for Pitt staff and faculty. Information on all of Pitt’s recreational programs can be accessed at:

In other developments:

• Frieze reported that Senate officers are working with Computing Services and Systems Development officials on the possibility of replacing paper mailings to faculty with mass e-mails.

• Evelyn S. Rawski has been named chair of the Senate’s University Press committee.

• The University Senate’s home page now is linked to the Pitt home page via the Faculty/Staff link, Frieze said.

—Peter Hart

Filed under: Feature,Volume 38 Issue 6

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