Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

December 4, 1997


Faculty forced into quick decision on retirement option

To the editor:

Long term faculty of the University have become used to a constant characteristic of our successive administrations: their need for faculty input on critical issues during the months of final examinations.

For many years we received thick packets describing options for next year's health and "cafeteria" benefits sometime around Thanksgiving–together with the warning that all decisions had to be made before Christmas break. Somehow amidst the nervous students, exams and papers, we managed to select our benefits for the next year.

Last spring, when the special committee on early retirement reported its activities to the faculty, we were heartened by the sense that (1) that there would be adequate time (most of a year) to consult experts and make this important decision, and (2) that the scheme introduced would not merely be a "take your money and run" scheme of the type favored by local industry. Of special interest were various options allowing faculty to "phase out" with reduced loads for several years.

Months of critical negotiations went by (apparently between the administration and the Board of Trustees) and, lo and behold, late in September a scheme that looked suspiciously like a "take your money and run" scheme emerged. The Pitt News reported that 358 faculty were (being) enticed (into early retirement) and knots of aging professors were seen in gathering places around campus discussing what they would do.

On Nov. 19, I received my very own envelope of "dated information" on the scheme just before I handed out the last hour exams for my classes in the fall semester. Inside was an impressive cream booklet describing the program, a list of eligible and ineligible participants (carefully referred to by ID numbers), and a businesslike contract containing what radio ads call the "lawyer talk." What struck my eye was a clause in the latter stating that the faculty member has "at least 45 days" to review the contract before signing it. For a horrible moment I thought this meant I had to make a decision by January 3rd, in time for the opening of the spring term. On reading the impressive cream booklet, however, I see that the decision has only to be made by March 31st–just in time for the frantic last weeks of that term! Apparently we not only have to decide whether to "take our money and run" but we also had better be pretty quick about it.

Professor A-21-7


Jerome C. Wells

Department of Economics


Input sought on whether PBS is working

To the editor:

The University's Planning and Budgeting System (PBS) is now in its sixth year. The system is designed to offer faculty and staff the opportunity to participate in the process through the Planning and Budgeting Committees (PBCs) of their units. This is particularly important as implementation of the Univer-sity's long-range plan begins to affect unit budgets. Within the academic responsibility center units PBCs exist at the school level and in many cases at the individual department level.

The Senate budget policies committee wishes to call attention to the collegial and participatory intention of the PBS process. Under PBS our committee "is responsible for reviewing whether the PBS procedures are followed and whether all constituencies involved are provided adequate opportunities to participate in the process and to be informed of its outcomes." During this past summer, the Senate budget policies committee conducted a survey of all identified responsibility center PBC members to assess their perceptions of how well the PBS is working. One finding of particular note was that over 18 percent of the PBC members either gave no response or indicated that their committee had not met during the past 12 months. Obviously, if PBCs are not meeting, it is rather difficult for faculty and staff to participate in the planning and budgeting process.

A second finding is related to the apparent lack of communication of the deliberations of the unit/center PBCs. Only 22 percent of the respondents indicated that minutes of their committee meetings were distributed to full-time faculty and 14 percent reported that minutes were distributed to full-time staff.

The Senate budget policies committee is available to assist in PBS implementation and to provide information. We are particularly interested in hearing from any faculty or staff member who can provide specific examples of how/where the PBS process is not being implemented in their unit.

Any member of the University community who has questions or concerns may contact me (648-8445, fax 383-8662, e-mail, 386 Salk Hall) or Richard Pratt, chair, Senate budget policies committee (624-9052, fax 624-9163, e-mail, 221B Allen Hall).

Thomas G. Zullo

Chair Process Review Committee

University Senate Budget Policies Committee

Leave a Reply