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November 21, 2013

Senior administrators told of faculty concern about grad programs’ future

University Senate president Michael Spring told Senate Council that he has relayed to senior administrators faculty members’ concerns about Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences proposals to suspend graduate programs in classics and German and terminate graduate religious studies programs.

The immediate suspension of admissions to the three departments’ graduate programs was announced in April 2012.

Department chairs from classics and German were among faculty who spoke out about their concerns following a report to Faculty Assembly by the Senate budget policies committee (BPC) on its review of the Dietrich school actions. (See Nov. 7 University Times.)

“I’m pleased to report to you that while questions remain about the process of this termination, from the point of view of the Senate, with strict adherence to our responsibility for oversight of the planning and budgeting process, we found no significant problems,” Spring told Senate Council in his Nov. 6 report.

Citing comments presented by chairs John Lyon of German and Mark Possanza of classics, including Lyon’s contention that a breach of Dietrich school bylaws occurred, Spring said, “There were questions that they raised. Unfortunately, from our point of view, they’re somewhat outside the scope of the charge of what (BPC) could do, but we have passed those on to the senior administration and asked for their consideration and examination of those.”

Spring thanked faculty member Cindy Tananis for her comments to Faculty Assembly, in which he said she “chided” him and the committee “because we were engaged in the minutiae of bylaws and regulations and policies as we considered several important matters” including the anti-discriminatory policies committee name change and BPC’s report on the Dietrich school proposals.

“I think it’s important to remember that we’re discussing important issues and important people. Unfortunately, as president I sometimes find myself obligated to deal with the technical details of how we adjudicate some processes,” Spring said.

Spring echoed Tananis’s observation that the matters being discussed in the Senate are substantive and important and should not be reduced to technicalities, adding that he wanted to go on the record as a colleague after hearing Lyon’s and Possanza’s concerns about the Dietrich school decision-making.

“This process has been a long and painful one for a University that doesn’t get into long and painful debates. It’s been a year now that it’s been going on,” Spring said. “As an individual faculty member I wanted to express my concern for all of the agony this has caused so many people over such a long period of time. While I’m sure there are many people trying to do the right thing, I do not envy the provost the final decision as she reviews the vote of the University Council on Graduate Study and all the various reports that have come up,” he said.

In other business:

• The University Senate anti-discriminatory policies committee has been renamed the equity, inclusion and anti-discrimination advocacy committee (EIADAC).

In a unanimous vote, Senate Council on Nov. 6 approved the change, following similar action by Faculty Assembly Oct. 29.

Committee co-chair Claude Mauk reiterated the reasoning that he presented in greater detail at Faculty Assembly: “Over the course of last spring our committee spent a lot of time discussing the nature of the committee and the mission of the committee. We really felt that the more positive and proactive stance we already were attempting to take was not well reflected in the initial title of the committee.

“We feel that the new title is a nice balance between positivity and also the active stance of guarding against discrimination. We feel that this name better reflects two sides of that coin,” Mauk said.

• In response to a question raised at Faculty Assembly by representative Seth Weinberg on the size limits for faculty email accounts, Spring reported that faculty email quotas can be increased easily.

Spring said Jinx Walton, chief information officer, responded to the inquiry conveyed by Irene Frieze, Senate vice president. Walton stated that University users receive a series of messages when their email account is approaching its quota. At that point, email can be deleted or additional quota space can be requested through the Computing Services and Systems Development (CSSD) help desk.

“Quotas can be increased rather easily,” Spring said. “I urge everyone to be aware that these notices are given, obviously to reduce storage and to make that possible, but for faculty who are reluctant to ever delete anything, or staff, a call to the help desk makes it pretty easy to get more.” He said his own recent request for more email space “took under 50 seconds” via a call to the help desk.

In addition, plans are in the works to enable self-service quota increase requests as part of an upgrade that is expected to be completed in February, Spring reported.

Walton told the University Times that the change will enable Pitt users to increase their email quota from their account, using any computer or mobile device.

• Senate Council’s next meeting is set for 3 p.m. Dec. 4 in 2700 Posvar Hall.

—Kimberly K. Barlow

Filed under: Feature,Volume 46 Issue 7

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