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March 5, 1998

Law dean, 3 other administrators to resign

Peter M. Shane will resign as law school dean July 1 and remain as a full professor on the school's faculty.

Shane has been dean since August 1994.

"For a number of personal and professional reasons, I concluded that another person could be a more effective advocate for the law school at the present time," Shane said. He declined to say what those reasons were, or whether he had been asked to resign. "It wouldn't be constructive for me to elaborate," he said.

Shane announced his resignation at a Feb. 26 meeting of law school faculty and staff. He said he will continue his full duties as dean until July. "There's not a single thing I will not continue to do [as dean] during the next four months," he said.

Asked how the sudden announcement of his resignation might affect his school, Shane said: "I'm going to be spending my time over the next four months making sure that it has no negative impact on the school." Shane said his resignation "had nothing whatsoever" to do with his recent discussions with Provost James Maher about the involvement of two law professors in filing an injunction blocking the sale of timber in the Allegheny National Forest. The injunction has cut off $2.7 million in revenues to local school districts and municipalities in four northwestern Pennsylvania counties, and has angered a state senator from the region. See story on page 2.

"The other thing I want to add is that I remain grateful to [Chancellor] Mark Nordenberg for giving me this opportunity four years ago," when Nordenberg was interim provost. "My personal relationship with Mark remains close," Shane said.

Provost Maher, in a Feb. 27 written statement, thanked Shane for his service as dean. "During his tenure, Dean Shane has been committed to building on the strong foundation that has been established for the School of Law. As he leaves the deanship, there is no question that the University of Pittsburgh School of Law is a strong school, and he has the thanks of the University for the contributions that he has made to bolster that strength," Maher wrote.

Given Shane's national reputation as a constitutional and administrative law scholar, the school looks forward to his continuing contributions as a faculty member, the provost added.

Maher emphasized that the law school remains a "priority unit" for Pitt, one that is "central to the University's overall aspirations." "I am confident that the School of Law will continue to provide the best possible learning experience for its students, as it has done for more than a century, and that ultimately we will move the School of Law to even higher levels of quality and prominence," the provost said.

Maher said he expects to name an interim dean within the next few weeks.

q A week before Shane told law school personnel of his resignation, Pitt announced that three other administrators will resign and leave the University over the next several months: * Lewis Popper, formerly general counsel, will serve as special counsel, handling various legal matters for the University until he leaves Pitt in August.

* Paul Stieman, director of Computing and Information Services (CIS), will resign effective April 30.

* John DeVitto, associate vice chancellor for Business, will resign effective June 30.

Chancellor Nordenberg, in a Feb. 20 written statement, said each of the three "has made important contributions to his area of responsibility and leaves with our thanks and good wishes. Their decisions to leave the University will provide a further opportunity for me, in consultation with the senior administrative staff, to continue to refine our organizational structure so as to insure the highest levels of service and efficiency in those areas that support our academic mission." In an interview, Nordenberg said the resignations involve "three different people in three different units with three different reporting lines" and do not constitute a larger administrative restructuring.

Popper reports directly to the chancellor, Stieman reports to Provost Maher, and DeVitto reports to Assistant Chancellor Jerome Cochran.

Asked if the three administrators were forced out, Nordenberg said: "I stand by the statement that has been released — that is, that these were decisions by the individuals to leave the University." Stieman declined to comment. Popper has been on vacation since last week; his wife, Sally, said he was out of town and unavailable for comment. DeVitto did not return calls from the University Times.

Nordenberg, in his written statement, said Popper "advised me last fall that after 12 years at Pitt, he felt it was time for a career move" and that he planned to leave in August. "Mr. Popper has contributed a great deal to the University and I wish him the very best in his future career," the chancellor wrote. Assistant Chancellor Cochran assumed direction of the Office of General Counsel March 1. Some at the University have been wondering about Popper's future here at least since October, when the Board of Trustees (at Nordenberg's recommendation) voted to raise Popper's salary by just 2 percent, to $134,750. Pitt's five other senior officers got raises of 3.1 or 3.2 percent.

"Dr. Stieman," Nordenberg wrote, "has served the University for nearly 20 years, guiding CIS through a period of considerable change. He has also taught in the Katz Graduate School of Business. He has helped us advance in a critical area and I want to thank him, on behalf of the University, for his efforts. Vice Provost Robert Pack will be coordinating the CIS functions while we examine ways in which to structure those services that will better meet the University's changing needs in the areas of information technology." Nordenberg called DeVitto, who came to Pitt six years ago, "the driving force behind many of the University's business initiatives, helping to create more efficient and cost effective programs in our various auxiliary units. And in addition to his official duties, he has led the efforts in two of the University's most successful United Way campaigns." The chancellor said DeVitto "leaves the University with our thanks and with the knowledge that Pitt will continue to benefit from his efforts into the future. Throughout the next several weeks, Assistant Chancellor Cochran will be redefining the reporting relationships of the functions currently reporting to Mr. DeVitto."

— Bruce Steele

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