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October 27, 1994


Provide telescope funding from external, not internal, sources

To the editor:

It is awesomely exciting to contemplate the prospect of Pitt's involvement in the Magellan Project in Chile for constructing a telescope capable of extending dramatically the heavenly explorations by astronomers and astrophysicists. I'm sure that my faculty colleagues are as enthusiastic as I am in supporting Chancellor O'Connor's sensible and responsible pursuit of outside funding toward this $8 million project. The disconcerting aspect of this venture, however, is that perhaps as much as half of what is needed, or $4 million, may have to come from (inside) sources, specifically, the chancellor's discretionary funds.

The question then arises as to what (other) University needs may be competing for this $4 million. Among the faculty voices suggesting that inside funds be spread out among other urgent needs within the University, I would like to add mine for a need that is rarely expressed hereabouts: salary adjustments for a secretary whose marginal income places her or him, say for a family of four, close to the poverty level. For example, the poverty level for a secretary and three dependents (a family of four) is $14,763 or lower. Believe it or not, there are people in our University community (one would hope that this may not be more than a few) who, at this poverty level, qualify for food stamps. It seems to me, therefore, that serious and immediate consideration should be given for the salary adjustments of secretaries at this level, few of whom, it is entirely possible, are devotedly engaged in typing up the proposals for this very telescope endeavor and others like it.

Far-reaching and visionary as the telescope project may be, common decency and compassion for secretaries scarcely able to make ends meet clamor for an adjudication of their plight, suggesting that the chancellor's discretionary funds be allocated (first) to personnel needs in our midst, (prior) to their allocation for the telescope in Chile. Thus, I trust that the chancellor will make the strongest possible effort in acquiring funds for the telescope entirely from outside sources, leaving his internal discretionary funds for the satisfaction of such internal needs as salary adjustments for impoverished secretaries (and others) in our environment who desperately need to have their lives made better through an elevation of their incomes.

Robert Perloff

Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus

Katz Graduate School of Business


A vote in support of "pulling" Times story

To the editor:

With so many newspapers jettisoning social ideals from editorial policy, I think it important that the University of Pittsburgh community demonstrate principle over politics.

The controversy over the "pulling" of a news story from publication in the University Times (Oct. 13, 1994, University Times) focuses on the issue of independence in policy-making instead of on the value of human dignity. The political issue is centered on control of the news that a different type of ceremony took place in Heinz Chapel. The philosophical issue is whether standing University policy, written to preserve the social ideals of privacy (over public scrutiny) and non-discrimination, will continue to guide decision-making.

Sexual preference, like the question of how colored is a person's skin, has become a national political identifier label. Neither reflect the importance of human dignity for our ever more violent society, and both have no relevance to the debate over how we will shape the future.

Jonathan R. Seaver

Member Student Publications Board and Doctoral Student

Department of Administrative and Policy Studies

School of Education

(Editor's note: There is no policy that prohibits the University Times from covering certain kinds of stories. The Times story that was ordered withheld from publication did not include names of the ceremony participants or any other personal details.)


And a vote against "pulling" the story

To the editor:

Are we to assume that if Vice Chancellor Haley had been publisher of the University Times in 1955 that he would have prevented the publication of the Rosa Parks story because the only reason that her refusing to give up her seat on the bus was news was that she was black? After all, thousands of (white) people rode that bus line every day without giving up their seats to rude white men. Please, Dr. Haley, do whatever you think you have to do, but don't insult our intelligence. One other thing. If the University Times is turned into a propaganda rag, oh, excuse me, a "public relations vehicle," may I suggest that you save the University the cost of printing and sending me any more copies.

Douglas Metzler

Associate Professor

Information Science

School of Library and Information Science


To the editor:

Given the misunderstanding that may have been inferred by the University Times article on Oct. 13, let me clarify this year's University holiday schedule. There is no intent to change the 1994/95 Academic Calendar which was published in June 1994. As indicated in the Staff Handbook, regular full-time University staff employees are entitled to 10 paid holidays each year, including Thanksgiving, the day after Thanksgiving, the day before Christmas, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. For the 1994 holiday season, the University officially will be closed Thursday through Sunday, Nov. 24-27, for the Thanksgiving holiday. The University officially will be closed on Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 26 and 27 (representing Saturday, Dec. 24 and Sunday, Dec. 25), and Friday, Dec. 30 (representing Sunday, Jan. 1). Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 28 and 29, is a recess period, except for essential offices which may be staffed.

Non-exempt staff employees who may be required to work on Nov. 24, Nov. 25, Dec. 26, Dec. 27 or Dec. 30 will be compensated at 2 1/2 times their regular hourly rate. Non-exempt staff employees who may be required to work on Dec. 28 or Dec. 29 will be paid 2 times their regular hourly rate, or granted the equivalent in compensatory time, at the discretion of the departmental administrator.

Those employees covered by collective bargaining agreements will be governed by the terms of those agreements.

Darlene Lewis

Associate Vice Chancellor

Human Resources

(Editor's note: This letter to Provost James Maher is being printed here at the writer's request.)


Dear Provost Maher,

I am writing this letter so that the University Times readers might realize that, despite the monologue of complaints emanating from a very vocal minority of the faculty from the School of Dental Medicine, all is well up on the hill and we are getting better all the time.

I am an associate professor in the School of Dental Medicine. I am not tenured. I have been a faculty member at the School of Dental Medicine since 1959 and have served under four deans.

Dean Suzuki's appointment coincided with the mandate from the University asking that we all try to do more with a little bit less — sort of tighten our belts. Unfortunately at the School of Dental Medicine, some of our tenured faculty expected more for an investment of less and when this was not tolerated, blamed their woes on Dean Suzuki.

Enough about our faculty and their alleged problems; what a University is really about is our students. An examination of our students over the past five years reveals that we have better applicants for our programs, better students in our programs, national recognition for our student research efforts (with no thanks to our vocal group) and recognition for our student's performance on national board examinations — all of this under the tenure of a dean being criticized for alleged unfairness to a few members of our faculty. What some of our faculty do not understand is that we are moving forward with or without them and will never go back to the "good old days." I am embarrassed and ashamed of the publicity and notoriety our school has received recently and hope that the vocal few give it up and help our present administration move us into the 21st century.

Herman Langkamp

Associate Professor

School of Dental Medicine


To the editor:

I have been a faculty member in the dental school for the past 13 years. During this time I have served under four different administrations. The dental school is currently undergoing a transitional period and experiencing some pain. Previously, we were "comfortable" and simply took pride in producing a "good product," a competent clinician. This was really not enough then, and certainly cannot be considered good enough today. With the exception of the Cleft Palate Center, we never produced much in the way of research.

Like most schools within the University of Pittsburgh, we have had to undergo some belt tightening. We were running a deficit and our budget was cut additionally by several million dollars. Currently, we are running on a reduced budget and in the black. Our clinics are more efficient and I'm told that patient pools for our students have never been better. Over the past few years I have noticed a considerable investment to improve our basic science teaching programs. This was desperately needed years ago when times were supposedly better. Student representatives have regular meetings with the dean to discuss difficulties. These snags get resolved quickly before they can become serious. As a result, our students are more satisfied and are scoring significantly higher on national board examinations. Is this poor administration? Research in the basic sciences has been improving. The opportunity for faculty to get involved with fundable projects has never been better. This has enabled us to establish a credible graduate program in oral biology. Our successes in undergraduate student research have been recognized at the national and international levels. Furthermore, this has stimulated our students to become officers in national student dental organizations. Our students are being accepted into prestigious dental programs. One of our recent graduates was accepted into an MD/PhD surgery residency with a fellowship offering half a million dollars of support. This sounds like progress to me.

For those who wish to return to the good old days, I would like to say that if you take a good objective look, the good old days aren't that far ahead of us. I hope we can all work to enjoy them together.

Nicholas P. Piesco

Assistant Professor

School of Dental Medicine

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