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November 10, 1994


For the record

To the editor:

In the article in the University Times of Oct. 27 concerning the public meeting on Oct. 20 of the Search Committee for Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences, a statement is attributed me which is not fully accurate. When speaking about the elimination of the position of senior vice chancellor and its related structure, I said the staff and "functions," not "faculty," in the senior vice chancellor's domain should be placed under the provost, or with the UPMC, as appropriate. There is a substantial difference. Faculty are in schools; functions are assigned to units, which may or may not be schools. If some staff who would become redundant with such reorganization hold faculty appointments, I suppose they would be given the opportunity to serve as faculty in the schools in which they have appointments.

Also, by way of clarification, my reference to joining Public Affairs with Student Affairs was to give an example of a precedent at Pitt in not filling a vacancy, but reorganizing instead.

Nathan Hershey

Professor of Health Law Health Services Administration

Graduate School of Public Health


Dental students outline positive aspects of school

(Editor's note: The following letter is in response to University Times coverage of a University Senate-sponsored survey of dental faculty opinions of Dean Jon B. Suzuki, as well as coverage of a Sept. 23 meeting between Provost James Maher and 13 dental faculty members who are dissatisfied with Suzuki's leadership of the school.)

To the editor:

There is a growing sentiment among the dental student body who resent the negative and biased publicity which the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine, and our soon-to-be alma mater has recently unjustly received in the University Times. As very active students of the dental school, we want to express our feelings of disapproval towards the recent, unjust censuring of our dean, Dr. Jon B. Suzuki. We feel it is unduly tarnishing our school's reputation within our local community which we will one day soon be serving, and undermining our many unpublicized accomplishments. If, on a national and international level, Pitt is rapidly being regarded as a top dental school, why is it that locally this is not being recognized, realized, and publicized. Regardless of the opinion of a very select few, we the students feel the school has made very significant progress under Dr. Suzuki's deanship in every important aspect of dental education. The purpose of this letter is to inform you and the local community of some of the accomplishments our school has recently made, and to reveal an alternate, more positive aspect of our School of Dental Medicine. The following is an incomplete summary of the areas we feel constitute a leading dental school in this day of scientific impetus, and where our school has indeed excelled among the rest:

I) ACADEMICS. Our current fourth year class ('95) is the first generation of the new curriculum implemented under Dr. Suzuki and as you may not know ranked 12th nationally last year in the Part I of the Dental National Boards — a significant jump from 45th from last year's class of the previous curriculum! Our new curriculum already actively includes courses such as dental implantology, dental public health, and forensic dentistry which won't be mandatory in all dental schools until 1996. Also, clinical honors clerkships were made available for the first time last year with much success. Pitt is arguably the leading institution in the cutting edge field of dental implantology. Additionally, the quality of entering first year dental students has been steadily rising year after year as is evident by the increasing number of applications and rising cumulative GPA's of our entering students. We are now actually conducting personal interviews of all dental school applicants, something that, to much surprise, was not done prior to Dr. Suzuki's arrival.

II) CLINICS. Over the last couple of years, some of us have had the opportunity to visit other dental school clinics and we can safely claim that our facilities rank among the top of what we've seen. Our new clinic and facilities are state of the art. Additionally, any dental student who has worked in the clinic will testify that there are many truly superb part-time as well as full-time clinical faculty here at our school, and although we always have minor complaints about certain clinical or teaching aspects, not only is our dean always eager to listen to us, but always ready to address the issues and find a solution.

III) RESEARCH. The record speaks for itself. As recently noted, Pitt dental students have competed for and won more student research competitions and awards than most other dental schools in the country during the past few years. Our very active Student Research Group (SRG) chapter which has flourished since Dr. Suzuki's arrival has obviously facilitated such research opportunities for our students. We are fully aware that this scientific awareness and exposure can make any dental student an all-around better scientist and an all-around better dentist in this age of advanced scientific technology. Any good dental school needs to provide these opportunities to its students. Our dental school and students have excelled nationally, and internationally in student research over the past five years, under Dr. Suzuki.

IV) STUDENT INVOLVEMENT AT NATIONAL LEVEL. The School of Dental Medicine has several students elected to national positions in the American Student Dental Association and the American Association for Dental Research. Our school has very active chapters for each of the various national dental associations.

With a diverse student body, numerous functions have been established to insure a communal climate. Dr. Suzuki meets with each class every 90 days to give the students the opportunity to express their concerns. Approximately 95 percent of the students attend these meetings. Only one other dean in the United States (University of Pacific) offers this opportunity to students on a regular basis. Numerous social and academic functions are planned throughout the year for the student body involving approximately 85 percent of our students.

Checking the record dating back to the early 1980s, there is minimal, if any indication of student activity in these above cited areas, and in absolutely no way can compare to the success, reputation and national recognition, which our students have worked very hard to bring to the University of Pittsburgh School of Dental Medicine in the last four years. We feel that much of this is due to the leadership, guidance and opportunities set forth by our dean, Jon B. Suzuki, and the changes he has made. He is a premier speaker, researcher, educator and clinician. As students we feel privileged to have Dr. Suzuki as our dean and hope the University will continue to support his deanship here, as we are sure the students will.

The high quality and enthusiasm of our student body has brought high visibility to the School of Dental Medicine which has strengthened our national reputation. Let's settle this issue once and for all. Nobody knows our school better than we, the students, do and it is obvious that with the continued changes occurring at the School of Dental Medicine, we are well on our way to being one of the top dental schools in the nation. Anyone who fails to see this is only impeding their own progress!

Juan-Carlos Quintero


Dental Student and National President American Association for Dental Research– Student Research Group

(Editor's note: This letter was signed by eight other Pitt dental students who are officers in student dental organizations.)


A letter to the campus community

Dear University colleague:

Earlier this month the University received a proposal from Blue Cross of Western Pennsylvania that could significantly affect the current health care benefits, from both an institutional and individual perspective. The proposal was an outgrowth of discussions which we had been having with Blue Cross regarding the current year's rate. During those discussions, the question arose as to whether the University would be willing to enter into a multi-year relationship with Blue Cross. We indicated that we would be willing to review and evaluate such a proposal.

The proposal, which is under evaluation, maintains the high quality of medical care currently available, offers a variety of health care delivery options, and promises significant savings for both the University and the individual enrollees. The key element of the proposal is the multi-year relationship with Blue Cross. We will evaluate this proposal thoroughly, with the involvement of the appropriate faculty and staff committees, and expect that a decision will be made by early spring.

The Blue Cross proposal provides a full array of health care options, including Comprehensive, Point of Service (SelectBlue), Preferred Provider Organization (University Health Network), and Health Maintenance Organization (Keystone). Information sessions to explain these options are currently available to all employees. In general, though, these options include virtually every hospital in western Pennsylvania and approximately 14,000 physicians, as well as access to a new on-campus medical center which will feature walk-in service. The proposal calls for a 42-month agreement period, during which health care premiums would be reduced by more than 20 percent from our current premiums for the first year, with a cap on future increases. A portion of these savings will be passed on to the employees in the form of reduced health care premium payments. In return for these savings, Blue Cross would require that the University offer only Blue Cross health care options.

This aspect of the proposal has given rise to some rumors regarding the status of HealthAmerica. HealthAmerica remains a health care option for our employees. However, given the possibility that the Blue Cross proposal may eventually be accepted, employees thinking about enrolling in HealthAmerica during the health care open enrollment period later this month should consider that decision very carefully. In the event that the Blue Cross proposal is not accepted, enrollment in HealthAmerica will be available during the open enrollment period which is scheduled for May 1995. (This will be the next open enrollment period because, independent of the Blue Cross proposal, the University is moving to an enrollment year that matches the fiscal year.) Review of this proposal in a collegial manner is part of our ongoing efforts to provide cost-effective, high quality health care options for everyone at the University.

Darlene Lewis

Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources


Governance alone cannot address all of staff, faculty concerns

To the editor:

As a faculty member who took the opportunity to attend as an observer the Staff Assembly (Oct. 31), I was profoundly impressed by the turnout and by the sophistication of the questions posed by those in attendance.

Clearly the so-called "rumors" (what I would term "leaked" or "shared" information) about the Board of Trustees discussing the idea of lengthening the work week and reducing the December vacation caused considerable concern among staff (as it did among many faculty).

Such discussions, even if there are no plans to implement such changes THIS YEAR, coupled with recently implemented cuts in benefits for newly hired faculty and staff, signal that University employees salaries, benefits, and working conditions are seen as a major target in efforts to deal with the current financial challenges faced by Pitt and other universities in the U.S.

(The trustees, however, apparently have decided that the special perquisites given to University officers need not be reduced at this time.) The massive turnout of staff at their assembly on Monday, I suspect, makes it more difficult (at least for now) for trustees and administration to propose any negative changes in the staff's benefits or working conditions. I think the faculty can learn an important lesson from the staff's collective action.

Nevertheless, I believe that many of the concerns raised by the staff (and similar ones raised by the faculty members) cannot be fully addressed through the mechanisms of the University's governance system. While we all must be actively involved in University governance, I believe that issues of salary, benefits, and working conditions for Pitt staff and faculty can be dealt with more collegially through legally enforceable, collective bargained contracts.

A level playing field, after all, is a prerequisite for relations among really equal colleagues. That is why I am convinced that employees (faculty and staff) at Pitt need to pursue unionization.

Mark B. Ginsburg

President United Faculty and Professor Comparative Sociology of Education

School of Education


Assistance available for implementing Planning and Budgeting System

To the editor:

Pitt's new Planning and Budgeting System is now in its third year. The system offers faculty and staff opportunities to participate in the process through the Planning and Budgeting Committees (PBCs) of their units. This is particularly important this year, as implementation of the University's new long-range plan begins to affect unit budgets.

The Senate Budget Policies Committee wishes to call attention to the collegial and participatory intention of the PBS process. Under PBS this committee "is responsible for reviewing whether the PBS procedures are followed and whether all constituencies involved are provided adequate opportunities to participate in the process and to be informed of its outcomes." The Senate Budget Policies Committee is available to assist in PBS implementation and to provide information. Any member of the University community who has questions or concerns may contact either me (624-9052, FAX 624-9163, 221B Allen Hall) or Philip Wion, chair of the Senate Budget Policies Committee (624-6534, FAX 624-6639, 509J CL).

Richard Pratt


Process Review Committee

Senate Budget Policies Committee


University Times letter policy

Letters should be submitted at least one week prior to publication. Persons criticized in a letter will receive a copy of the letter so that they may prepare a response for simultanous publication, if they choose. When no response is submitted, the letter will be published alone. Letters should be sent to the editor, 308 Bellefield Hall.

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