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February 19, 2015

Some optimistic about state funds

Some people have high hopes that Pitt will get more state funding this year.

Jennifer Poller, manager of alumni advocacy, told the Feb. 11 meeting of the Staff Association Council (SAC) that she is particularly hopeful this year’s Pitt Day in Harrisburg on March 4, when the new chancellor will lobby the new governor, will result in greater state funding for the University.

“The message this year is that it is really time to reinvest funds in public higher education,” Poller said. “It’s lucky timing in that the governor’s budget proposal will be released the very day before.”

The annual event, in which Pitt staff, faculty, students and others in the Pitt community travel by bus to the state capitol to tell the Pitt story to legislators and their aides, includes a lunch and dessert reception, capitol tours and a government careers panel for students.

Those wishing to attend should reserve a bus seat by close of business tomorrow, Feb. 20; for Pitt-Greensburg only, the deadline is Feb. 27 (

Said Poller: “It’s really the only University-wide event I can think of with a common cause.”

In other SAC news:

The group unanimously approved new ad hoc committee chairs: Tricia Connell for elections and Samantha Stephens for staff development. SAC also began seeking an ad hoc chair to plan Pitt Day at Kennywood for 2015.

The March 19 brown bag seminar will focus on the new discount program for staff and faculty (see Feb. 5 University Times).

External relations committee head Andy Stephany said his committee is seeking a volunteer videography team to create a new public service announcement on behalf of SAC, to let more staffers know about the organization.

Ken Doty, head of the health, safety, IT and transportation committee, said his group met with five staffers from Purchasing to discuss the internal purchasing program Panther Express, which had come under fire from SAC members earlier in the school year. “I was really happy with how receptive they were,” Doty said. “They want to make things better. They are going to continue trainings and have refresher courses.” He said Purchasing may hold a new lunch-and-learn session and open office hours for staff members to learn more about Panther Express and to discuss questions and problems with the service.

Staff relations committee leader Tammeka Banks said her committee plans to roll out the new mentor/mentee list for SAC members in May, in the hope that SAC members can begin to aid each other in work-related tasks in a more organized fashion. They also will be meeting with staff members in Organizational Development to discuss how staff members can be ready for the annual review process — both to give and to receive the reviews.

—Marty Levine