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March 30, 2000

Presidential candidate: Gordon MacLeod

MacLeod isn't running for re-election this spring. He's been named academic dean of the fall 1999 Semester at Sea voyage and will spend much of his extracurricular time recruiting faculty and otherwise preparing for the around-the-world trip. "I wouldn't have time to do that and be Senate president," MacLeod said.

–University Times March 15,1998 Now, two years later, it is a high honor to have been nominated again to serve another term as president of the University Senate. If elected, I shall continue my efforts to enhance the faculty's role in shared governance of our University with the administration and the Board of Trustees.

Upon returning from the semester-long academic experience late last December after circumnavigating the globe, I have had an opportunity to take a fresh look at some of the challenges facing the University of Pittsburgh. The administration appears to be quite successful in its efforts in fundraising, building construction and athletic program development. Despite such progress, however, I was disappointed to find that so many on the faculty still seem to be demoralized. It is even more lamentable that so many on the faculty concede that nothing can be done about it.

A few years ago, the Pitt Board of Trustees removed voting rights from faculty, staff and student representatives on board committees, thus almost completely excluding effective faculty participation in University governance. The loss of voting rights was indeed regrettable, especially since a lot of faculty members are much more knowledgeable about University life than many on the board.

For years the faculty, as a community of scholars, has consistently called for shared governance because of their compelling interest in the academic mission and other aspects of University life. Whether anything can be done about the lack of a faculty voice in governance is a matter of opinion. But we as faculty members should stand firm in our goal to regain an appropriate role in governance that would benefit all aspects of University life.

Permit me to cite two issues among many related to governance that appear to be troubling the faculty at present. As further evidence of a progressive loss of faculty input in governance, witness the report in the University Times just two months ago in which the chair of the Senate budget policies committee bitterly complained that the administration and trustees had bypassed the University Planning and Budgeting System. Formerly, through this process, administrators worked with faculty members appointed by the Senate in drafting Pitt's annual operating and capital budgets, as well as its long-range plans. The article went on to say that Arthur G. Ramicone, vice chancellor for Budget and Controller, said he was pledged not to discuss the new goals (italics mine). Ramicone said trustees consulted with him and other administrators, and had "considerable interactions" with deans in setting the goals. But as another faculty member who had long participated in the planning and budgeting process noted this time, "there was no direct participation by the faculty."

Second, the brouhaha about Pitt's policy against same-sex health benefits continues to bring national and even international embarrassment to the faculty and the University as a whole. The Senate's anti-discriminatory policies committee and the Faculty Assembly have strongly endorsed such benefits.

It would appear that a clear majority of the faculty opposes the University's posturing on same-sex health benefits.

Recently, the University Library System's faculty organization joined a number of other campus groups in urging Pitt to extend health benefits to same-sex partners of faculty and staff. Librarians at the meeting went on to observe, "This policy negatively affects the University's ability to recruit and retain highly qualified and talented academic scholars." Faculty concerns over issues such as these are either ignored or disregarded by the administration.

As a result of these and other edicts, there is considerable evidence of a growing chasm between the faculty and University policymakers. The adverse effects of the administration's continued stonewalling the faculty on matters of University governance has created enough dissatisfaction to cause some faculty members to reconsider the matter of collective bargaining or even, as rumored, to result in the departure of distinguished scholars.

One suggestion for validating the degree of faculty discontent would be for the Faculty Assembly to conduct opinion polls on major issues affecting University life, using statistical sampling so as to hold down cost. It would be a first step in corroborating impressions while at the same time possibly initiating a dialogue between faculty and administration. Such referenda could lead to the resumption of needed academic input in the governance of a great University.

Those of us on the faculty who have made the commitment to pursue an academic career must never forsake our long-standing dedication to collegial advancement as a community of scholars by sharing in the governance of the University of Pittsburgh. Then, we can truly acclaim our University's anthem: Hail to Pitt!

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