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October 23, 1997

Greensburg making plans to improve all aspects of campus life

A 12-point agenda designed to improve academics, diversity, undergraduate life, staff relations and communications at Pitt's Greensburg campus (UPG) has been unveiled by UPG president Frank Cassell.

Developed with input from persons on campus and in the community, the agenda was revealed by Cassell during an Oct. 7 speech to UPG's Senate Council. "In general terms," Cassell said, "this agenda seeks to promote academic excellence, a vibrant campus life, and respect for faculty, staff and students who are the heart of this institution." A lack of public recognition and respect in the local community for UPG and the achievements of its faculty, staff and students has long been a concern of many members of the campus community.

According to Cassell, many faculty also believe that UPG's curriculum needs to be reviewed, its existing academic programs strengthened, plans laid for new programs and private donations to the campus increased.

In addition, both faculty and staff have expressed dissatisfaction over salaries and staffing patterns, relations with the Pittsburgh campus, limited opportunities for professional development and the lack of extracurricular activities for students.

"The agenda does not directly address every issue you have identified," Cassell told the UPG Senate Council, "but it is unrealistic to think everything can be done before classes end next spring. Some of the agenda items call for planning that will lead to other activities in the years ahead." To develop plans for the campus, Cassell has established six committees to deal with various issues. (See accompanying list.) The first group of items on the agenda deals with academics and program development. They call for:

* Review of the UPG curriculum to determine what, if any, changes are needed. The focus will be primarily on general degree requirements in light of UPG's efforts to become a high-quality liberal arts school and on defining the UPG educational experience.

* A re-examination of proposed new programs in the campus five-year plan with an eye toward modification where necessary. Existing programs will be reviewed to determine if the requirements should be changed.

"With limited new resources for the immediate future, should our efforts be focused on adding new programs or on creating centers of excellence among our existing majors?" Cassell asked.

The second group of agenda items involves the environment of UPG. They are: * Evaluation of extracurricular programs and consideration of new initiatives to foster closer relations between resident and nonresident students and faculty.

* Examination of current strategies and the development of new strategies to support an "intellectually cosmopolitan environment" at UPG.

"In addressing this agenda item," Cassell said, "I certainly think we must assess the effectiveness of our diversity programs. But the goal of creating a cosmopolitan campus also encompasses the need to promote a global and multicultural perspective among our students." * Preparation of an institutional relations plan that addresses both external and internal communication needs and contributes to a better public appreciation of UPG's achievements.

The third group of agenda items focuses on particular groups and their roles at UPG. They include: * Assessing the interests in creating a staff association council at the campus and the establishment of a distinguished service award for staff.

* Working with the UPG Alumni Association to expand its involvement with the campus.

* Preparing for a major fundraising drive to be led by the UPG Advisory Board.

The fourth agenda group includes: * Planning for additional student housing by fall 1999 and reviewing UPG's 10-year facilities management plan in light of revisions in the campus's academic plan.

* Laying the groundwork for bringing the resources of the graduate and professional schools of the Pittsburgh campus to UPG.

In laying out the plan, Cassell also assigned himself two areas of responsibility. He will: * Evaluate the current administrative structure of UPG and implement changes to improve efficiency and communication with campus constituencies.

* Seek out ways to address budget problems at UPG.

Whenever possible, Cassell said, he wants existing committees and campus organizations to assume responsibility for particular agenda items. If new task forces are necessary, he added, they will be appointed and will report regularly to the UPG community on the plan's progress.

"This is an ambitious plan of action, and it does assume broad participation," Cassell concluded. "I am convinced, however, that the UPG family wants to move ahead and that there is a commitment to handle the work involved."

–Mike Sajna

Filed under: Feature,Volume 30 Issue 5

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