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July 3, 1996


Why not take anonymity a step farther?

To the editor:

One of the great benefits of "shared governance" as it is practiced here at the University of Pittsburgh is the thoughtfulness shown by the powers that be in protecting the faculty from news that might be upsetting or disturbing to us as we perform our senatorial duties.

Nowhere has this consideration been more evident than in the willingness to protect those of us on the Senate Council from the harsh realities of academic life during the past few weeks.

We have been spared the hurley-burley of presidential politics by the kindness of keeping the various candidates for the chancellorship anonymous — saving us from the galling prospect of having to check with colleagues here and elsewhere to find out whether the candidates' records merited their selection as our future leader. True, the Post-Gazette played the role of spoiler on Sunday, June 16, by leaking the names of the finalists, but I think we can write off most of that reporting as mere sensationalism.

Similarly, the administration sought to protect us from the unsettling prospect that 400 "faculty and staff" (fortunately no senior administrators) may have to be laid off to wire the campus. Again the Post-Gazette stooped to yellow journalism and rumor-mongering — and on a Saturday, when we were trying to recover from a tense week of information overload.

Now we hear that the Board of Trustees is thoughtfully planning to relieve faculty and students from their onerous duties in joining the board's committees to share information and opinions about what is happening at Pitt. We are suitably moved by the trustees' kindness.

In response, I would like to add my own modest proposal to the steps taken by our leaders to ease the needless pain of transmitting harsh news to the faculty. Why not keep both administrators and the board members anonymous permanently? The board is already moving in that direction — with 50 members it taxes academic memories simply to know who is doing what. But why not go further and refer only to Provost M, or Chancellor N, O, or P, and Trustee X21? This would spare both faculty and administrators much recrimination and would help the faculty to achieve that laid back (read "passive") attitude toward governance that typifies good employees.

Sincerely, "J"

(a.k.a. Jerome C. Wells)

Department of (None of Your Business)


An alternative solution to the Bigelow block problem

To the editor:

In reference to the controversy regarding the "Bigelow Boulevard block" that prevents students from moving back and forth safely between the William Pitt Union and Cathedral of Learning, I would like to make a suggestion regarding a possible simple solution I observed in my travels to Japan.

In Tokyo, Japan, they have what is called the "scrambling effect," which means that traffic lights in all directions simultaneously turn red, stopping all turning and travel in a particular area. People are able to cross streets in any direction at any angle for a 70-second period, after which the lights change accordingly.

Such an arrangement on the block of Bigelow Boulevard between the William Pitt Union and Cathedral of Learning would give students an opportunity to move back and forth across the street without danger.

I would suggest that the University and the city run a test for a period of two weeks with the lights in such a "scramble" mode to gauge reaction to such a simple change rather than create a great problem for traffic on Fifth Avenue and Forbes Avenue.

If the lights are red in all directions for 70 seconds, people can do a lot of walking.

Marshall Goldberg

Class of 1939 and Member, Board of Trustees

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