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November 20, 2003


Faculty play part in student accomplishments

To the editor:

As the chair of the economics department, representing one of the disciplines in which Cynthia Kinnan, Pitt’s latest Marshall fellow, majored, I take strong exception of Dean Alec Stewart’s words on the occasion of Prince Andrew’s visit. As I was not invited to the luncheon, I can only quote the following headlines published in the University Times (Nov. 6, page 10) : “It is the students — not their professors or the Honors College as a whole — who deserve the credit for the University’s recent successes in the Marshall competition.” While it is obvious that Marshall fellows are truly outstanding students, I would argue that faculty deserve far greater credit than given by Alec. In my department, as I am sure in many other departments, we have a group of superb and highly dedicated undergraduate teachers. They repeatedly demonstrate extraordinary skills at helping our students to reach their full potential. If this were not the case, how could we explain Pitt’s unmatched success with Marshall fellowships? Even though the quality of our incoming students keeps rising (they know we are doing things right) it would be illusory to claim that Pitt systematically attracts the very best students in the nation. Whence, short of being an unlikely statistical fluke, Pitt’s success with Marshall fellowships owes equally to our faculty. I am obviously very proud of Cynthia’s success but I am equally proud of my faculty. It is too bad that Alec couldn’t give them the credit they deserve on such a public occasion.

Jean-François Richard
University Professor
and Chairman

Department of Economics

  1. Alec Stewart, dean of the University Honors College, responds:

I have no argument at all with Professor Richard’s observation, and I regret any suggestion that we do not rank faculty contribution at the top of our credits for the University’s undergraduate scholarship accomplishments.  In the case of every scholarship winner, there are one or two faculty who by their superb mentoring relationships and their letters of reference prepare the way for these fine students to go out and win the day.  In fact, all across the board, it is our faculty in their sincere devotion to undergraduate relationships that most leverages this institution’s standing as a center for educational excellence.


PBS implementation problems?  

To the editor:

The University’s Planning and Budgeting System (PBS) has been in operation for over 10 years. The system is designed to offer faculty and staff the opportunity to participate in the process through the planning and budgeting committees (PBCs) of their units. The Senate budget policies committee (SBPC) wishes to call attention to the collegial and participatory intention of the PBS process.  The PBS document (available at explicitly states, “Planning and budgeting decisions are legitimate only if they are both based on full information and arrived at through an open, formal process.”  Under the PBS our 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 help in PBS implementation and to provide information.  We are particularly interested in hearing from any faculty or staff members who are aware of any instances where the PBS process is not being carried out appropriately (in academic units, in which it is required).  Any member of the University community who has questions or concerns may contact either Phil Wion, chair of SBPC (624-6534, e-mail, 509J Cathedral of Learning) or me (e-mail, 5S15 Posvar Hall).

Thomas G. Zullo, Chair
Process Review Subcommittee


Bus etiquette

To the editor:

Pitt students, faculty and staff have a wonderful resource in our bus passes. We all tend to take it for granted and I know Pitt pays a lot of money for this service. However, during rush hours when the buses are full with standing room only, we are not acting courteously to other bus passengers, people who pay $60 per month, who may be elderly, handicapped, with children or whatever. When we Pitt people climb on with our big expanding backpacks and leave them on when standing in the aisles, we are taking up the space of two persons, making a full bus more uncomfortable than it needs to be.  Those backpacks constantly hit people in the head and if you are fortunate to get one of the seats, you have to sit with your arm up to protect yourself.

As courteous people, we should take off the backpacks, messenger bags, single strap packs, computer bags, etc. and hold them down on the floor.  No one will be hit in the head or squished by packs overfilled with books by unassuming students, staff or faculty.

Debra Morris
Administrative Assistant
Center for Injury Research and Control




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