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June 12, 2014

Senate Matters: Secretary has broader duties

It has truly been an honor to serve as the University Senate secretary for the past three years. Our Senate bylaws state that “the officers of the University Senate (president, vice president and secretary) shall constitute the executive committee of the Senate.” It is important that there is clarity and recognition of the role of this office to the Senate and to the University. The secretary serves on the Senate executive committee. As stated in the bylaws, the executive committee is responsible for ensuring that the Senate is a party to consultation with the University administration, supervises the affairs of the Senate as well as keeping records of the work of the Senate.

There is a false assumption by some that the Senate secretary simply takes the minutes for Senate Council and Faculty Assembly. My experience as Senate secretary has been so much more. Although one of the main tasks of the secretary is taking notes and producing the minutes of meetings, the Senate secretary also is essential in providing a written record of the work of the University Senate, which becomes a historical archived document for the future. Beyond this, the Senate secretary functions in a leadership role with the other Senate officers. My responsibilities and duties were truly enlightening and provided me with an opportunity not simply to observe but to intervene and facilitate the enhancement of the mission and work of both the Senate and the University, which included:

  1. Participating as a member of the Senate executive committee;
  2. Engaging in dialogue and discussion with faculty and staff throughout the University;
  3. Participating as an active partner and collaborator with the University administration;
  4. Regularly meeting with the University administration, including the chancellor and provost, to discuss issues, policies and initiatives;
  5. Serving as Senate leadership liaison to University Senate committees;
  6. Participating in developing projects and initiatives of the Senate and the University;
  7. Serving as Senate representative to the Board of Trustees health sciences committee.

Election to this position afforded me the ability to witness and observe the complexity of the operation of the University. It has provided me with opportunities to learn of the scope and breadth of the University across schools and departments, as well as across regional campuses. I witnessed the commitment, diplomacy and vision of the chancellor and the senior administration. Furthermore, it helped to increase my appreciation of the cutting-edge research, superb teaching and noteworthy public service that occurs across our campuses. I have had the opportunity to work with talented and committed faculty throughout the University. I would encourage interested faculty to serve in this leadership position within the University Senate.

As I end my final term as Senate secretary, I want to express my appreciation for this wonderful and life-changing experience as well as the opportunity to serve the University faculty, administration, students and staff. Hail to Pitt.

Linda Rose Frank is an associate professor of public health, medicine and nursing in the Graduate School of Public Health’s Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology.