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April 2, 2015

Harrisburg wants to support state-relateds, chancellor says

The University is off to a “very positive start” in the state funding process, Chancellor Patrick Gallagher told Pitt faculty following state budget hearings in Harrisburg. (See related story.)

In his March 25 report to Senate Council, Gallagher gave his take on the climate in the state capitol: “I don’t believe we’re facing really any hostility toward the state-related universities in any way. I think everyone — whether it’s the House or Senate or whether it’s Democrat or Republican, whether it’s the legislature or the governor’s office — are looking for ways to support the state-related universities.

“They understand the role that they play in providing the access to the education that’s so important for Pennsylvania residents to have, but also for the role these universities play in attracting businesses and attracting economic growth,” said Gallagher.

The more important backdrop, the chancellor said, is finding the resources to support the state-related universities.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf’s budget proposal “lays out a blueprint that reshapes a number of things, including taxes, and proposes new spending. As you might expect, there’s political views on whether that’s the right approach,” Gallagher said.

“That sort of political landscape, in terms of how this discussion is going to unfold, has not been settled yet,” he told faculty.

In hearings before the state House and Senate appropriations committees, Gallagher said he and leaders from Penn State, Temple and Lincoln “were testifying at a time when the interest was very positive but there’s no real specificity with what’s going to happen.”

Under Wolf’s proposed fiscal year 2016 budget, Pitt’s appropriation would increase by $14 million-$15 million, the chancellor said.

While the amount is less than the University’s requested increase (see Oct. 9, 2014, University Times), “the governor’s proposal is very good to the University of Pittsburgh,” said Gallagher.

“A new dynamic this year is that these increases are being tied to expectations for tuition control,” he said, reiterating to faculty what he told the state appropriations committees: “Our goal is to maintain tuition increases as low as possible.”

Gallagher said: “We are as concerned as our elected officials about the affordability of education. But it’s easy to cut costs if you don’t care about quality. We could make a very cheap education if we didn’t care how good it was.

“The question is how do we maintain the great value of a Pitt education? And how do we maintain that value of what we do in a responsible way? And that will be the challenge that we face going forward.”


The chancellor told Senate Council he moderated a panel session on innovative partnerships with universities and colleges as part of the Select USA Investment Summit. Select USA is a U.S. Commerce Department initiative that aims to attract foreign investment.

“We were able to highlight the critical role that universities play in attracting businesses and I think it was a nice opportunity to showcase the role of the University of Pittsburgh there as well,” Gallagher said.

“I joined the president, a number of our ambassadors, most of the Cabinet and about 3,000 visitors and investors from around the world, meeting with state representatives on economic development,” as part of the March 23 and 24 summit in Washington, D.C.

“While the United States already is the largest recipient of foreign direct investments,” Gallagher said, “we’re one of the only countries that makes no systematic effort to roll out the red carpet as a country. It tends to be a state and local forum. And so the motivation here is, as the world has become very competitive for investment dollars, to really make that effort.”

Single-sign-on survey

Senate President Michael Spring, in his report, noted that the Senate’s computer usage committee was scheduled to meet March 27 with University computing systems staff and Chief Information Officer Jinx Walton to discuss the scope of single-sign-on (SSO) access on the portal.

“As most of you are aware, you can read your mail here, submit or view your grades through the portal, do your certifications related to research grants and access payroll information” through the portal, he said. UPMC health information and TIAA-CREF/Vanguard retirement fund information also can be viewed via

Spring noted that while the portal is secure, not all users may realize that sharing a password or leaving unattended a computer that is logged in to the portal could expose private health or financial information.

As of March 24, a survey (posted under the “” tab at had prompted 56 responses. While 30 percent of respondents had used the links to access retirement information and a quarter had viewed health information via the links, more than half the respondents were unaware the links were there, Spring said. Asked how they viewed the SSO access, 25 percent favored it, 41 percent did not, and 34 percent said they preferred an opt-in option, he said.


In other business:

• Spring said the Senate would review Pitt travel policy changes (prompted by Ebola outbreaks) that would expand requirements for faculty and students to report international travel. Input will be solicited at

• The Senate continues to solicit feedback on a proposed realignment of Senate standing committees (see March 19 University Times) in advance of discussion at the April 14 Faculty Assembly meeting. The draft proposals and background information are posted, along with a comment form, at

• Senate officer elections will run April 7-22 online. Alexandre Vieira, faculty member in dental medicine, and Frank Wilson, Pitt-Greensburg faculty member in administration of justice, are running for president. (See related story.) Irene Frieze of psychology, Laura Fonzi from the School of Education and Jane Cauley of the Graduate School of Public Health are running for vice president.  Susan Skledar of the School of Pharmacy is running unopposed for secretary.

GPSG report

Graduate and Professional Student Government President David Gau introduced the newly elected GPSG executive board for 2015-16.

“We have a very diverse team coming up next year” from a variety of different graduate programs, Gau said. Taking office May 1 will be Joe Kozak, Swanson School of Engineering, as president; LaTriece Holland, Katz Graduate School of Business, as vice president of committees; Greg Logan, School of Medicine, as vice president of communications; Tim Foltz, who is taking a dual degree in the Katz and Swanson schools, as vice president of finance, and Michele Ingari, School of Education, as vice president of programming.

All are newcomers to the board, Gau said.

—Kimberly K. Barlow