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June 26, 2014

Chancellor gives final Senate Council report

Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg received a standing ovation from Senate Council as he concluded his final report to the group June 11.

“This is it,” quipped the chancellor, who is preparing to step down from his post Aug. 1. “If you count not only the regular Senate Council meetings, but also the plenary sessions, that’s got to be about 200 Senate Council meetings — which has got to be something near a record, I would think.”

Nordenberg said, “I do want to say just how proud I feel of all that we have accomplished together. There is a sense of pride in what we have accomplished because the University of Pittsburgh today is stronger in so many ways than it was two decades ago.

“But I also want to say that there is a special satisfaction that comes from the fact that we really have been in it together. And that doesn’t mean that we haven’t disagreed on things from time to time. But in the main, we have recognized that we’re all committed to the same noble mission. We’re all contending with challenging forces from the outside. One of the most important things that we have had going for us is the ability to mobilize our collective energies and intellect and power and to keep pushing the University of Pittsburgh forward.”

The chancellor thanked University Senate and Staff Association Council officers for a May 12 reception honoring him and his family. (See May 15 University Times.)

“It really was a wonderful experience for me,” he said. “Words can’t describe how much it meant to me.

“I also will say that it meant a great deal to me that my family was there and that the contributions and sacrifices made by my wife over the course of the last 19 years also were recognized. So I am deeply grateful to everyone who participated in what will be one of the most memorable events of my life.”

A positive transition

“There is a good transition underway,” as Patrick D. Gallagher prepares to assume leadership of the University, Nordenberg said.

“Chancellor-elect Gallagher and I are in regular contact with each other. He knows what I’m doing. I’m warning him about some of the things that he’s going to have to be doing,” Nordenberg said.

Gallagher has met with people on campus, and has participated with Nordenberg in alumni receptions as well as in a visit to Harrisburg.

“We spent an entire day in the Capitol meeting with the governor and senior members of his team and the leaders of each of the four legislative caucuses,” Nordenberg said.

“All of my interactions with him leave me with the sense that he is a very fine, highly principled person who interacts well with other people. And I do know that he has a skill and experience set that I don’t have. A set of skills and experiences that are going to position him to do things for the University of Pittsburgh that I couldn’t do, or could not do nearly as well. That’s the way that you want a transition to go,” the chancellor said.

“Good things lie ahead and I look forward to sharing many of those good things with you, albeit from a somewhat different vantage point,” Nordenberg said.

In other business:

Bylaws change approved

Following Faculty Assembly’s approval at its June 3 meeting (see June 12 University Times), Council approved a bylaws change that will shift terms of office for University Senate standing committee chairs from the current June 1-May 30 to July 1-June 30.

The change includes a charge to the sitting committee chairs to hold officer elections by July 1 to ensure that committees don’t go without leadership during the summer months.

Commonwealth relations to expand mission

A proposal to change the name of the Senate commonwealth relations committee to the governmental relations committee is in the works for fall, said committee co-chair Deborah Rougeux. The new name aims to reflect a broader advocacy mission that would encompass city, county and state executive branch lawmakers in addition to state legislators.

Reports to council

• In his report, University Senate President Michael Spring said a fall plenary session is set for Oct. 23, adding that there may be two plenary sessions in the upcoming academic year. The fall session will focus on research data management and governance.

• Graduate and Professional Student Government President David Gau reported that a graduate and professional student orientation is set for 2-5 p.m. Aug. 18 in the O’Hara Student Center. Information on University resources will be available. Orientation events also will be open to postdocs, he said.

—Kimberly K. Barlow