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February 18, 2016

Task force recommends Pitt Promise for all

A Senate Council task force on diversity and inclusion is proposing an institution-wide “Pitt Promise” and formation of a standing advisory council as part of its recommendations for making Pitt a more inclusive campus.

The group also is calling for the University to declare 2016-17 the Year of Diversity and Inclusion and for Senate Council to devote its March 23 meeting to discussion of the recommendations in a special diversity and inclusion session.

University Senate President Frank Wilson unveiled the Senate Council group on diversity and inclusion’s four recommendations to Faculty Assembly last week. Task force members were scheduled to present them as well to Senate Council yesterday, Feb. 17, after the University Times went to press.

The group’s recommendations were prefaced with the caveat that they are intended “to create a foundation or platform upon which to build our community expectations, strategic initiatives and goals” rather than to delineate all the University community’s current and planned diversity and inclusion initiatives.

• A Pitt Promise for all

The call to create a Pitt Promise for all aims to “clearly state to the world who we are as a University community and the values we believe are essential to fulfillment of the University’s mission,” the group stated in its Feb. 3 draft report.

The expanded promise would be based on the core concepts of civility that students promise to uphold in the Pitt Promise (

Creation of a standing Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council

The group is proposing a permanent advisory council for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to advise on recruitment and retention, to serve as a sounding board and to be a conduit for concerns and issues.

“The advisory council could start with the existing group and develop over time as appropriate to the University’s needs,” the report stated.

• The Year of Diversity and Inclusion

The group recommends following the current “Year of the Humanities” with the “Year of Diversity and Inclusion” in 2016-17.

“This designation would provide a platform for the collective yet dispersed talents and ideas throughout the University to be highlighted and elevated through the provision of grants and incentives,” the report stated.

• A Senate Council session devoted to a dialogue on diversity and inclusion

The group is recommending that Senate Council devote its March 23 meeting to a discussion of these recommendations, best practices and highlights around campus, with a goal of garnering the council’s commitment to the recommendations and to regularly scheduled sessions on diversity and inclusion.

The recommendations encourage council members — which include faculty, staff and student representatives — to engage with their constituents prior to the March 23 meeting.

The Senate Council group on diversity and inclusion was formed in November in response to Chancellor Patrick Gallagher’s request that the University Senate help devise a strategy for expanding dialogue on diversity and inclusion. (See Nov. 25 University Times.)

Wilson and Staff Association Council President Rich Colwell represent faculty and staff on the group. Representing the administration are Pamela Connelly, associate vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion, and Kathy Humphrey, senior vice chancellor for engagement, chief of staff and Board of Trustees secretary.

Student representatives are Student Government Board President Nasreen Harun; College of General Studies Student Government President Julia Helgert; Graduate Student Organization of Arts and Sciences (GSO) President Dominique Johnson; Graduate and Professional Student Government President Joseph Kozak; and GSO Vice President Erin Kathleen Pfeil-McCullough.

In other Faculty Assembly business:

• Following discussion, the Assembly endorsed a provost’s ad hoc committee’s recommendations for additional sexual harassment prevention and response training for faculty and staff.
The provost’s committee is proposing training for employees at least once every four years as well as training in multiple formats. (See Jan. 21 University Times.)

Currently, new employees at Pitt must complete an online course on prevention of sexual harassment, but no follow-up training is required.

Connelly told the Assembly that the committee is seeking to revise the University’s sexual harassment policies and procedures in ways that better encompass federal Title VII, which prohibits sex-based discrimination in the workplace, and Title IX, which prohibits such discrimination in education.

Faculty asked that the University invest wisely in developing effective, evidence-based training and that training include guidance on how to respond when a student or colleague comes forward to report harassment.

• The Assembly approved a Senate budget policies committee (BPC) resolution directing the University Senate president to appoint a small ad hoc committee of faculty and members of the Council of Deans to review the Planning and Budgeting System document and recommend revisions to the Senate and Council of Deans for action.

BPC is commencing an overdue re-evaluation of the PBS document. (See Jan. 21 University Times.) BPC chair Beverly Gaddy said the document isn’t in need of major revisions, but that it needs updating and editing to make it more user friendly.

• In his report to the Assembly, President Wilson urged members to participate in the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) survey of Pitt faculty. (See related story, page 3.)

“We as academics usually want other people to fill out our surveys. But this is a time where there are going to be several surveys of our community,” Wilson said. “I think it’s really important for us to respond to these things honestly and to just not dump it because these things are going to be used in the making of policy and they will have an impact.”

• Wilson also encouraged faculty to attend the University policy review committee’s town hall forums on patent, conflict of interest (COI) and copyright policies.

Mark Redfern, vice provost for research, is heading the review committee that is preparing to draft new policies.

Town hall sessions have been scheduled for those wishing to comment in person: Today, Feb. 18, in the O’Hara Student Center ballroom, and Feb. 23 in the University Club ballroom B, both 2-3 p.m.

The group is seeking faculty and staff input regarding their experiences with Pitt’s current patent, COI and copyright policies. (See Dec. 10 University Times.)

“There’s opportunity for people to give serious input,” Wilson said, adding that the group already has received submissions including white papers, letters and suggestions.

Details and a feedback form are at

—Kimberly K. Barlow

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