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November 23, 1994


More support for Dean Suzuki

To the editor:

In response to some of the negative letters I have read on this subject, I write this letter in support of Dean Jon B. Suzuki, School of Dental Medicine. I am a new faculty member here at the University of Pittsburgh, but not new to the institution or to the city. I have been in academia for two and one-half years after spending 21 years in the private practice of orthodontics. I have experienced being a leader, as well as a follower. Both roles can be difficult. I know that each gets easier in proportion to the amount of support one has for the other. From my perspective Dean Suzuki, our leader, has supported our faculty and students very well. When I look at other institutions I have been a part of, all of which have their share of problems, Pitt is doing quite well in comparison. If, instead of pointing the finger of blame, we were to support the dean and help him to grow, we ourselves will grow and flourish with him. It's time the School of Dental Medicine faculty comes together as a team in support of Dean Suzuki to help solve problems, not create them.

Joseph M. Pelle

Acting Chair

Department of Orthodontics

School of Dental Medicine


Evaluating a faculty member in Bradford

To the editor:

I would like to add an addition to the pamphlet included in the University Times, Oct. 27, 1994, about the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford. Although the story below is about me, and thus it may not be fully objective, nevertheless facts remain facts.

Here is how the post-Ph.D. professional development of a mathematician was evaluated. There is the elected promotion and renewal committee composed of a historian, a nurse, an accountant, a speech communicator, a mathematician, and a "writer," i.e. someone who teaches writing. Only two of those people have Ph.D.s in humanities; the remaining four do not have any Ph.D. The evaluation was negative. And I would bet money that the question of competence did not even cross the committee's minds. After all, our people at Pitt-Bradford are competent in everything. No wonder that out of 354 freshmen students in 1993-94, only 176 remained as sophomores in 1994-95. All this in spite of four retention action teams working at full speed during 1993-94. To make the story even more tasteful, the same committee evaluated the mathematician's teaching positively and recommended not to renew his contract for the next year.

Kazimierz Wiesak Still

Assistant Professor of Mathematics

Bradford Campus

Philip J. Alletto, vice president, Enrollment Planning and Institutional Advancement at the Bradford campus, replies:

Please accept this correction of Mr. Wiesak's numbers: Pitt-Bradford had 207 freshmen enter in the 1993-94 school year, and 136 of those students were retained in fall of 1994. The 66 percent retention rate compares favorably with the national norms.


"Ambassadors" sought for northern Italy tour

To the editor:

Rotary International is looking for business and professional people to be team members (ambassadors) on a Group Study Exchange from April 29, 1995 to May 29, 1995. This is a non-stop all-expenses-paid business/pleasure tour to Milan and the Lombardi region of northern Italy sponsored by the Rotary District of Lombardia, Italy. Participants will live with host families and experience all aspects of Italian business, politics, education, culture and regional life.

Applicants must:

* Be over 25 years of age.

* Have worked in their chosen professional for at least two years.

* Be a citizen of the U.S. and reside or work in Rotary District 7300 (Allegheny and Beaver counties).

The application deadline is Jan. 1, 1995.

I was a team leader last year on the trip to Sweden and Poland. It was an incredible experience, and is well worth doing.

For information and applications, please contact me at 4065 Circle Drive, Allison Park 15101-3462. Or you can reach me by phone at 648-7224 (work) or 487-4056 (home), or by FAX at 487-9053.

Herb Ferguson

University Center for Instructional Resources


Reflections on the fall Staff Assembly

To the editor:

Some comments and thoughts regarding the University Times article on the Staff Assembly Council meeting (Nov. 10, 1994).

* It seems meetings would be more productive if they did not turn into "gripe fests" about issues which have already been resolved. Weren't the rumors about the work week and winter recess dispelled by Ms. Lewis in her interview with the University Times as well as in other Times' articles?

* Talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth. We get a free week off for Christmas and someone wants to know why we don't get Jan. 2 off for New Year's Day?!? While we should never become complacent, University staff should recognize that our pay and our benefits are competitive. We also must realize that we took jobs at an institution which relies, in part, on an annual state appropriation. If that appropriation is decreased, the money must come from somewhere. While we should make sure that staff does not bear the brunt of budget cuts disproportionately, we also must acknowledge that we knew the situation when we accepted our positions.

* Mr. Tuchi mentioned that tuition only increased from $5 to $5.22 and implied that this was grandfathered for current employees. It is my understanding that this was grandfathered for current employees who had taken classes in one of the previous two terms, not for all current employees. Also, the change was quite substantial for graduate credits. At 10 percent of the per credit tuition, MBA students, for example, pay $39.20 per credit rather than $5 per credit, nearly a 700 percent increase. This means that, at the current tuition rate (which is sure to increase, thus increasing the amount per credit the employee must pay), a University of Pittsburgh employee will pay almost $2,000, excluding fees, for an MBA degree. Additionally, staff must pay fees for things to which they already are entitled as University of Pittsburgh employees.

* When figuring out the amount of money the University would save by discontinuing winter recess, did Mr. Tuchi factor in the amount of money that would be expended for overhead (electric, heating, etc.) which currently is not expended during winter recess? Also, I agree with Mr. Tuchi and Mr. Maher's implication that there is no reason why benefits for new employees can't differ from those for current employees. In this regard, why not award fewer vacation days to new employees rather than consider discontinuing winter recess? That way working days gained would be during a time when overhead costs must be paid anyway. Perhaps then winter recess could become a formal policy of the University.

With a 2.7 percent standard increase and 1 percent allotted for merit, how could this year's average staff salary increase have been 4 percent?

Regina M. Vitti

Financial Manager

School of Social Work

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