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July 23, 2015

SAC hears about humanities grants

There’s been a lot of attention to STEM jobs — science, technology, engineering and math — but the fact that Provost Patricia E. Beeson declared the academic year 2015-16 the Year of the Humanities will help the Pitt community concentrate again on this traditional core academic area.

That was the message Lisa Parker brought to the June 15 meeting of the Staff Association Council (SAC). Parker, faculty member in the Graduate School of Public Heath’s Department of Human Genetics, is a member of the organizing committee for the Year of the Humanities.

She noted that staff, faculty and students may apply for up to $5,000 in matching funds ( to undertake projects that explore the role of the humanities in work and daily life. Collaborations across Pitt units are especially encouraged, she said.

Parker offered suggestions:

•  Create presentations on why campus art is considered art and how we can make better use of it, or how much your office resembles the TV show “The Office” and how you can you improve it.

•  Make art for your workplace or other locations.

•  Take your Pitt experience and turn it into a written creation.

•  Identify current design issues at Pitt and devise solutions.

•  Gather forums to discuss important questions of the day, from “What does it mean to be human?” to simpler topics.

SAC Executive Vice President Lindsay Rodzwicz suggested SAC members should consider creating a proposal together.

In other news:

• SAC President Rich Colwell reported that the group has 22 applicants waiting for 11 open membership slots.

• There will be no SAC meeting in August; the next meeting is set for Sept. 9.

• The membership voted unanimously to create two new employee relations liaisons, to be appointed by SAC officers. One will be the primary liaison, to be shadowed by the other, who will take over liaison duties in two years. He or she will help non-union staff members seek answers to questions about work performance issues, disciplinary matters and grievances, including formal complaints. The new liaison rules in the bylaws stress that “This position will serve as a resource for staff but not assume an advocate role in disciplinary matters.”

• External relations committee chair Andy Stephany called for nominations for a new chair, due to the fact that he and vice chair Fiona Seels have been elected SAC officers.

—Marty Levine    

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