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February 16, 2017

Senate group plans session on minority student mentoring

The University Senate student admissions, aid and affairs (SAAA) committee’s March 1 meeting will focus on minority student mentoring. Sylvanus Wosu, the Swanson School of Engineering’s associate dean for diversity, has been invited as a guest speaker.

The committee also plans to reach out to student veterans to determine how it can support this subset of Pitt’s nontraditional student population. SAAA co-chair Harvey Borovetz, a former Army reservist, said he has been in contact with Pitt’s Office of Veterans Services and the Pitt student veterans affinity group.

SAAA co-chair Juan Taboas said the committee has heard presentations on nontraditional students, but has not focused specifically on student veterans.

In brainstorming future areas of focus for the committee, Senate vice president and former SAAA chair Robin Kear expressed interest in an update on how student-athletes are supported at Pitt. Penny Semaia, senior associate athletic director for student life and a chancellor’s liaison to SAAA, offered to make a presentation.

SAAA member Joanne Baird suggested an update from the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid on how incoming students are assessed, given recent SAT re-centering and the increased popularity of ACT testing, and on how Pitt’s out-of-state recruitment efforts are progressing.

Committee member Lance Davidson expressed interest in exploring Pitt’s ranking in a recent comparison of economic mobility among U.S. college students and whether Pitt has any strategic efforts for helping students move up in economic status.


Graduate student update
Justin Saver, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSG), updated the committee on his group’s recent activities and its goals for the remainder of the academic year.

GPSG will host a graduate research showcase focused on innovating a better Pennsylvania during the March 21 Pitt Day in Harrisburg, Saver said. Based on nominations from the deans’ offices, a representative of each of Pitt’s graduate schools will be selected to showcase their work as part of Pitt’s advocacy in the state capitol.

GPSG’s special initiatives this academic year have focused on improving alumni interactions; increasing mental health awareness among grad students; Title IX education; diversity and inclusion; and advocacy and community engagement, Saver said.

GPSG’s annual graduate student body survey is being readied for release at the end of February. Saver welcomed suggestions for survey questions from the group. “It’s really the student body survey that allows us to have information to issue recommendations,” he said. “Without that data backing it up, it’s more difficult to issue recommendations.”

Saver expressed appreciation to the Office of the Provost for providing Jennifer Walker as GPSG staff adviser. “She’ll be a great keeper of institutional memory for the future,” he said, adding that Walker is planning an expanded transition and inauguration for new GPSG officers to smooth the leadership change each year.

In other business, SAAA rescheduled some spring term meeting dates to avoid conflicts with Senate Council meetings in April and May.

The committee will meet March 1, April 12 and May 10, all at 3:30 p.m. in 272 Hillman Library.


—Kimberly K. Barlow

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