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May 11, 2006

Assembly approves 12-year facilities plan

Pitt’s proposed 12-year master facilities plan moved one step closer to final approval last week, even as details of the plan are being kept under tight wraps from the press and the general University community.

Robert Pack, vice provost for academic planning and resources management who is a member of the committee that wrote the plan’s draft, answered questions at the May 2 Faculty Assembly, but would not divulge any of the plan’s details.

According to Pack, the plan, which covers 2007-2018, has been undergoing a lengthy vetting process through closed presentations to various University Senate standing committees, including the plant utilization and planning (PUP) and budget policies committees.

In addition, the plan had been made available for review and comment by Faculty Assembly members, he noted. The on-line draft of the plan was made available in confidence only to Assembly members, who are elected representatives of the faculty at large.

“The plan is still confidential,” he said. “I will say that it gives outlines of directions we want to move in. There will be opportunities we can’t foretell as well as challenges we can’t predict. But that is not an excuse for not having a plan. You make a plan and do your adjustments when opportunities come up. So, it’s a minimal plan: It describes what we absolutely must do and know we can pay for. It certainly does not describe all we believe we will do.”

Assembly member Kim Coley commented, “I think it is a good plan. But the point where we’re able to see the plan is too late in the process to add input.”

Senate President Irene Frieze defended the vetting process. “Several committees had direct input, such as PUP.” She added that an invitation-only presentation for Faculty Assembly members last month drew 16 faculty. “It’s true the plan was in a fairly finished form, but we can’t say faculty were ignored during the process,” Frieze said.

Faculty Assembly voted unanimously (with two abstentions) to support the facilities plan for 2007-2018. The Assembly did not recommend any changes in the draft.

The plan next will be reviewed by the Dean’s Council, which meets later this month.

Following the Assembly, Pack told the University Times that the facilities plan would be reviewed by Chancellor Mark Nordenberg who will decide when and how it will be released to the public. “That’s up the chancellor. He has the final approval. Once that happens, I’ll be happy to talk to [the press] about the plan,” he said.

The facilities plan is expected to be used as a guideline by the Board of Trustees property and facilities committee, which evaluates and recommends projects in Pitt’s annual capital budget, Pack said.

In other developments:

• The Assembly voted to form an ad hoc committee to help develop University-wide policies on recycling. Frieze said that Facilities Management had requested input from faculty through the University Senate.

• Fran Czak, director of the Senate office, is retiring from the University on June 30. Frieze said, “We’re losing a very important and knowledgeable resource.” She said the Senate office is looking into producing a handbook to aid Czak’s successor.

• Past Senate President Nicholas Bircher agreed to succeed Nathan Hershey as chair of the ad hoc committee on consumer satisfaction with UPMC services.

• Jeannette South-Paul, professor and chair of the Pitt medical school’s Department of Family Medicine, is slated to be the keynote speaker for the Senate’s fall plenary session on mentoring, scheduled for Oct. 19.

—Peter Hart

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