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September 29, 1994

Some dental medicine faculty meet with provost

On Sept. 23, James Maher became the third Pitt provost in as many years to meet with dental medicine faculty to discuss their grievances against their dean, Jon B. Suzuki.

The 45-minute meeting "was a start" toward airing and possibly addressing the complaints, Maher said, "but I would need to talk with that group again before I could comment on the whole complex of issues in the dental school." Maher said he plans to meet again with the dental faculty in October.

Attending last week's meeting were Maher, Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs Vijai Singh, University Senate President James Holland and 13 dental faculty members, most of them tenured.

According to several of those who attended, much of the meeting was taken up by allegations of inappropriate administrative actions taken by Sudha Agarwal, head of the dental school's Division of Oral Biology. At least one professor reportedly also questioned the legitimacy of Agarwal's appointment by Suzuki.

John Baker, an associate professor who has been Suzuki's most public critic in recent months, said that most of the faculty members who attended last week's meeting "were very disappointed, to put it mildly" that Maher left after 45 minutes to attend a meeting of Pitt senior administrators. "My impression of our meeting is that they (the Provost's office) intended for it to be perfunctory. I think they were just going through the motions." Maher said he regretted having to cut the meeting shorter than he intended it to be, but the senior administrator meeting came up on short notice and he had to attend, he said. Maher, who became provost on July 1, said dental faculty will receive "a thorough and fair airing of their problems." Groups of dental faculty discussed their grievances against Suzuki in meetings with Maher's predecessors, Interim Provost Mark Nordenberg and Provost Donald Henderson, in 1993 and 1992, respectively.

— Bruce Steele

Filed under: Feature,Volume 27 Issue 3

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