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November 20, 2014

Senate seeks better communication with administration

Improving communication with the administration was high on the agenda in an initial meeting between the new chancellor and University Senate officers and committee leaders.

In comments to Senate Council Nov. 12, University Senate President Michael Spring characterized the expanded executive committee’s Nov. 7 meeting with Chancellor Patrick Gallagher as a “lively and broad-ranging” conversation.

“There were two issues that have come up in a variety of ways that were among the issues discussed,” Spring said. “First was the responsibility that the Senate takes very seriously in advising the administration on matters of University-wide concern.

“We shared our belief in that with the chancellor and agreed to take whatever steps we need to, to make sure that we can do that in a way that’s helpful to the University and to the administration, and is responsive to the faculty. We’ll be thinking about ways to get appropriate faculty involved at an early stage,” Spring said.

“Unfortunately we’ve had a couple instances this year where feedback earlier would have been better. It’s not that we had a substantive difference of opinion, but that we failed to talk about things early on.”

Spring said Senate officers also raised concerns for ensuring good communication amid changes in University structures.

“We do things differently today than we did 50 years ago when the Senate was formed,” Spring said. “There are provost’s committees, there are trustees’ committees, there are chancellor’s committees, there are Senate committees, there are ad hoc committees, there are standing committees. And the question is: How can we ensure that we keep all the people that we need to keep involved, involved, in a way that allows them to productively communicate and talk about these issues?”

Chancellor’s report

As part of his report, Gallagher noted that the Pitt United Way campaign totaled more than $424,102 as of its Nov. 7 conclusion, with additional pledges continuing to come in after the official deadline.

“What I really want to highlight is this is everybody: This is students, faculty, staff, Pittsburgh, the regional campuses — not only participating in the campaign but supporting it with a lot of just great volunteer efforts,” he said.

As examples, Gallagher cited business faculty member Bob Gilbert’s “ProsInMotion” marketing class in which students developed marketing strategies for the campaign, homemade soup sales by staff at Thomas Boulevard, competitions among Facilities Management work teams to inspire participation, and sales of “Yinz Give?” T-shirts spearheaded by Kevin Sheehy and Heidi Fonzi in Parking, Transportation and Services to benefit the drive, in addition to participation in Pitt’s annual United Way Day of Caring, the student-led Pitt Make a Difference Day and regional campus community service efforts.

“It’s great to see the commitment to service and the University giving back to the communities that we’re part of,” the chancellor said.

In other business:

• Spring reminded faculty that the deadline for submitting intellectual property rights assignments or acknowledgments is Nov. 21.

• Spring said the Senate anticipates a December update from its ad hoc committee on non-tenure-stream faculty issues. The committee, chaired by Irene Frieze, Senate vice president, is charged with analyzing University policies and procedures related to full- and part-time non-tenure-stream faculty “with an eye to adjustments that may need to be made and positioning of responsibility for consideration of these matters within the standing committees of the Senate, as well as identification of issues not currently within the purview of an existing standing committees.”

• Membership of a second ad hoc Senate committee charged with addressing the University’s current guidelines for performance evaluation and salary reduction has been set, Spring said.

—Kimberly K. Barlow

Filed under: Feature,Volume 47 Issue 7