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January 19, 1995


Giving credit To the editor:

I read the article on the technology transfer efforts of the University in the Jan. 5, 1995, edition of the University Times and would like to express appreciation for the extensive coverage of a number of complex issues.

By this letter, I would like to clarify some of the article's content. One clarification is that the tuberculosis diagnostic and drug sensitivity technology referenced in the article originated in the Department of Biological Sciences, rather than the School of Medicine, as the article indicates.

In addition and most importantly, I would like to emphasize that the restructuring of the University intellectual property and technology transfer process has been truly a University community effort, involving senior administration, faculty and staff. The chancellor appointed a new Technology Transfer Committee in November of 1992. The committee, chaired by Dr. Thomas Detre, is composed of faculty from FAS, the School of Engineering, the School of Medicine and the Graduate School of Public Health, as well as representatives from the Office of the Provost, the Office of Research, Health Sciences and legal counsel. The committee meets monthly (except in August) to review invention disclosures submitted by faculty and to address technology transfer issues. In its early meetings in 1993, the committee members spent considerable time and effort on developing the internal review process which would benefit their colleagues by eliminating unnecessary "red tape" and provide timely response on submissions to the committee. In addition to attendance at regularly scheduled meetings, committee members are most generous with their time, providing ongoing support to the Office of Technology Transfer and to their colleagues in the invention disclosure and licensing processes.

We acknowledge, again, the extensive coverage provided by the article but want to ensure appropriate recognition of the Technology Transfer Com-mittee's valuable contribution to the University's new efforts to disseminate the results of the excellent research of the faculty.

Frances J. Connell


Office of Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property


Security measures needed in Bellefield

To the editor:

It is well known to tenants of Bellefield Hall (315 South Bellefield Ave.), that this is NOT a secure building. Persons (who are NOT tenants, students, or employees with valid reasons for being in the building) roam the halls, day and night. This situation has been brought to the attention of Campus Security on numerous occasions over the past several years.

Over the past two weeks, several offices have been broken into, some more than once. This has also occurred in previous years. Building tenants are afraid, particularly those who work at night in remote offices on upper floors. What kind of crisis must occur before the University will take effective measures to make the building secure?

Bellefield Hall tenants

(Editor's note: This letter was signed by 15 Bellefield Hall tenants, exclusive of University Times staff members. Signatures are available in the University Times office. Bellefield Hall tenants have arranged to meet with Public Safety and Facilities Management representatives today, Jan. 19, to discuss building security issues.)


More support for Dean Suzuki

(Editor's note: The following letter is reprinted here at the request of the author.)

Dear Chancellor O'Connor,

As 1993-94 president of the School of Dental Medicine Alumni Association as well as a parent of a 1994 dental school graduate, I would like to comment about our school. The dental school provides a broad-based service to our community, available 365 days a year to those in need and quality care to those who possibly could not afford it otherwise. Additional community service is evidenced by the participation of Dean Suzuki and 15 faculty members and 70 students in the recovery service of the recent USAir catastrophe. Since I have served on the executive committee, I have seen an increase in alumni interest, attendance and contributions. I believe this is due in part to the changes formulated by Dr. Suzuki. As a dentist/parent I feel that my daughter, and her classmates, have received an excellent dental education for which I thank the faculty and administration. Upon graduation, 99 percent of all students are placed into post doctoral education or clinical practice. There is no doubt in my mind that today's School of Dental Medicine is striving successfully to meet the challenges placed upon it by modern dentistry.

Ellsworth T. Bowser


Factual errors exist in letters supporting Dean Suzuki

To the editor:

It was never our intention to engage in a letter-writing contest with colleagues who still support Dean Suzuki, School of Dental Medicine (SDM). However, their comments in the University Times revealed they were seriously misinformed on major issues, and contained enough similar phrasing to suggest an orchestrated propaganda campaign. Our letter addresses factual errors.

Low confidence in dean September's Faculty Assembly survey revealed overwhelming disapproval of Suzuki's performance. A majority or plurality disagreed or strongly disagreed, i.e., did not support him, on every counted item. Late 1993's informal survey produced even stronger negative views, due to total anonymity.

Nonetheless, a past SDM alumni president ignored both surveys in his letter, though fully aware of them, as a designated recipient of the informal questionnaires and comments.

Dean's supporters are in the minority Survey results resoundingly contradicted administration claims that Suzuki is opposed by only a "vocal minority." Visible critics are simply those few faculty who dare speak publicly for numerous colleagues who also disapprove of his policies.

Have Suzuki's supporters tightened their belts? We have repeatedly been told the SDM must "do more with a bit less." That would be acceptable if applied equally. Our argument is with the way this belt-tightening is being implemented.

In FY 91, 44% of all Pitt faculty receiving 0% raises (excluding Medical School) were in the SDM.

* In FY 92, 55% of faculty receiving 0% raises were in the SDM.

* In FY 93, 38% of faculty receiving 0% raises were in the SDM.

* Only about 6% of all Pitt faculty were in the SDM.

Besides extraordinarily high percentages of dental faculty getting no raises whatsoever, many more received raises below the stated minimum for satisfactory performance, without being provided any documentation of unsatisfactory performance. Meanwhile, a few faculty received raises exceeding 25%, according to Pitt's Office of Budget, Planning and Analysis.

Unfair implementation of practice plan

Most nontenured full-time clinical faculty with extramural practices were forced to choose between their practices and full-time faculty status: they either had to sell their practices and become plan participants, or shift to part-time faculty status. Meanwhile, tenured clinical faculty, plus a select few nontenured faculty, were allowed to retain both.

Administration failure to follow proper channels

Some Suzuki supporters insinuated his critics have failed to follow proper channels in reporting grievances, implying incorrectly that by contrast the SDM administration has always adhered to University procedures in pursuing its policies.

* Because the SDM lacks any elected faculty governance structure, the Faculty Assembly is the next logical level to which aggrieved dental faculty can appeal. The Assembly directed President James Holland to schedule a meeting between concerned faculty and the chancellor. When O'Connor refused, a meeting was arranged with the provost.

* Various SDM faculty groups have met with three successive provosts regarding numerous problems; virtually none is yet resolved.

* After the Suzuki administration violated University Planning and Budget System procedures in reorganizing the SDM, an appeal was made to the Senate Budget Policy Committee's Process Review Subcommittee. Faculty responded to a subcommittee letter in the Times regarding problems with the process.

* The subcommittee found the Suzuki administration had employed a "seriously flaw[ed]" process, in "a major departure from the collegiality, openness and accountability which PBS seeks to encourage" in formulation, procedures and communications regarding reorganization.

* Rather than grasping the significance of such wrongdoing, one letter-writer took "personal offense," blaming faculty for legitimate complaints which necessitated taking time to rationalize Suzuki administration improprieties.

Decreased funding research The June 1994, Health Sciences Sponsored Project Report showed total SDM research support at $6,949,921. In August this dropped by 42% with departures by Drs. Lantz, Switalski, and Katherine and Peter Vig. All were actively recruited by Suzuki, yet left after brief tenures. In the Dec. 25 Post-Gazette, Drs. Lantz and Peter Vig were highly critical of Suzuki's administration.

December's departure of another faculty member further reduced SDM sponsored project support by $488,931; other grants have also expired since June. Current SDM total sponsored project funding is only about $2,880,000 (62% drop in seven months) — roughly $950,000 annually, well below the average for each of the five years prior to Suzuki's administration.

The Post-Gazette noted that University administrators do not dispute this support figure. In an era of tight grant competition, their anticipatory claim that these monies will soon be replaced because new proposals will surely be funded is like counting one's chicks before they hatch.

Therefore, except for transitory grants (which came and left with the above faculty) SDM sponsored project funding during Suzuki's administration has dropped lower than under recent predecessors. Claims of improvements in research circumstances and accomplishments under Suzuki were exaggerated, a case of taking a snapshot without seeing the entire picture.

Oral biology graduate program Far from "credible," the Oral Biology graduate program is still under formulation (five years after Suzuki's appointment).

Who's "unproductive"? Supporters of the dean have falsely depicted his critics as "unproductive." However, with minor exceptions, research accomplishments of the letter-writers pale in comparison with those of critics who have met with various provosts.

* Suzuki critics have published far more peer-reviewed papers than his supporters, both as principal authors and co-authors–one widely-accepted, reliable indicator of achievement.

* Critics have overwhelmingly surpassed supporters in external research funding, both in numbers of grants and dollars.

* The "big-lie" has been shamelessly employed to characterize certain colleagues as uncooperative and "expect[ing] more for an investment of less." Actually, these defamed faculty perform much of the SDM's didactic teaching, and earn the school considerable extra tuition revenue by teaching additional nursing, pharmacy and SHRS courses.

Clinical productivity/income Latest data from the American Association of Dental Schools placed Pitt's clinical productivity index at 52nd of 55 schools. If more clinic income is being generated than under past deans, it is likely due to higher fees and inflation. Yet a letter to the University Times proclaimed significantly improved clinical productivity/income.

A $3,078,685 deficit in the SDM was disclosed in Pitt's Revenue and Cost Attribution Report for FY 93 (the latest publicly available through the UPBC). Minutes of the December 1993 UPBC meeting also clearly refute contentions that Suzuki has subsequently balanced his budget.

It is only half-true that "currently we are running on a reduced budget and in the black." Funds have been reduced, but SDM ink still runs red. The tragedy is that Suzuki administers scarce resources inequitably.

Board scores Administration supporters attached great significance to contrasting performances by two Suzuki-recruited classes on Part I National Dental Board Exams. They credited his administration for wondrous curricular improvements, allegedly fostering superior students, so concluded that he deserves the glory. Again a grain of truth was enlarged far out of proportion to reality.

* While Pitt students finished 12th of 47 dental schoolson July, 1993, Part I Boards, earlier Suzuki-recruited students did unusually poorly the previous year. In no way was the 1992 performance representative of prior SDM classes, as insinuated by administration supporters; this was an unusually low, one-time aberration. Unfortunately this occurrence was cited out of context to overinflate Suzuki's accomplishments.

* From 1975 to the mid-1980s, Pitt students performed well above average on Boards, sometimes in the top quintile. However, average scores generally run in cycles for most dental schools so, not unexpectedly, scores decreased gradually in the late 1980s, then rebounded in the early 1990s.

* The composition of faculty who teach subjects tested on these exams (many identified as administration critics) has changed little under Suzuki.

* The first professional curriculum was modified prior to Suzuki's appointment. It reflected a return to discipline-based organization (corresponding to the structure of Part I Boards), rather than a systems-based plan. It also changed evaluation from a single term grade for Dental Medicine to individual course grades. Students work harder under letter-grading; they formerly received an "S" whether scoring 70% or 90%.

* If Suzuki takes credit for improved performance of Pitt students on Part I Boards, he should equally shoulder blame for their poor April, 1994, performance on Part II (also an unrepresentative performance). Or does he only claim responsibility for favorable outcomes? * We, too, are justifiably proud that our students usually perform well on their Boards. However, the students (not Suzuki) most deserve the credit, because they actually sit for the tests. Hard-working SDM faculty, of course, also merit acknowledgment.

Faculty collegiality Throughout trying times we never wished to involve, let alone demean, SDM faculty, staff or students. Our efforts have been directed primarily at improper actions by Dean Suzuki and his administration. We have made every effort to present our case using only documented information, and still look forward to satisfactory resolutions of these matters.

We urge Suzuki supporters to help us make the SDM a place where ALL faculty have an equal opportunity to flourish.

Thomas G. Zullo


School of Dental Medicine

(Editor's note: This letter included the signatures of 11 other dental medicine faculty members. A similar letter was sent earlier to Provost James Maher.)


CIS working on pentium chip problem

To the editor:

Several months ago it was announced that a floating point flaw was discovered in the Intel pentium processor. Intel announced that this flaw would only affect applications involving intensive floating point calculations and, initially, only wanted to replace the pentium chips for users of those applications. Throughout the University, however, it was agreed that we wanted this flaw corrected in all of our pentium machines.

The Procurement Department and Computing and Information Services has been working with Intel and various computer vendors to obtain replacement pentium chips for all pentium computers purchased through the University. This will include any departmental machines ordered through the purchasing department, as well as any personal machines purchased through the PC Center or at the Computer Truckload Sale.

Intel has agreed to supply us with all of the replacement chips needed. Because the chips differ by computer vendor, Procurement is now gathering that information for University departments. The PC Center has the records for individual purchases. The PC Center and Office Systems Services will be involved in distributing and replacing the pentium chips once we receive them.

As soon as we have the final details, we will notify all affected University departments and individuals.

Jinx Walton


Information and Office Services

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