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March 30, 2017

SAC is developing release time proposal

The Staff Association Council (SAC) is working on what it calls a volunteer and community service approved absence proposal to help govern how and when staff members can get time off for service projects, including such University-promoted events as the recent Pitt Day in Harrisburg.

At the group’s March 15 meeting, SAC Executive Vice President Lindsay Rodzwicz asked SAC members whether it was easy for them to secure official time off for Pitt Day in Harrisburg.

“I was told my time would be better spent in the lab,” one SAC member volunteered.

SAC parliamentarian Fiona Seels said: “It would be useful for us to know how many people got pushback.”

Added Alex Toner, chair of SAC’s external relations committee: “If the University encourages us and wants us to attend events like that, if we get pushback… that’s contradictory.”

SAC is in the midst of both revisioning its work and rebranding itself, from its logo to the manner in which it involves staff on regional campuses. As part of this effort, Seels said the organization would begin soliciting ideas on “how to improve channels of communication for staff who want to impact the University” beyond their jobs, including “things that might affect your building but go beyond your unit.”

She noted that there seems to be more incentives for faculty to work across departments, using their deans and the Provost’s office as a conduit.

“How can we provide staff more ways to share great ideas and get action?” she said. “This is going to be an ongoing topic.”

One SAC member, who suggested more campuswide software training and user groups, noted that she doesn’t know many other people with her job title, “but wouldn’t it be great if I did?”

In other SAC news:

• SAC has begun urging the administration to set a larger cost-of-living increase for faculty and staff salaries. In its March 22 report to Senate Council, SAC pointed to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ January inflation figure of 2.5 percent and said: “It is our hope that this year’s maintenance increase can come closer to matching the current inflation rate to help staff to continue to make ends meet and not fall behind by continuing their careers at Pitt.”

• At the suggestion of a SAC member, the organization also is considering urging the administration to allow staff the choice to be paid monthly or twice a month.

• SAC’s April 18 brown bag seminar on women in the workplace will feature a panel discussion in the William Pitt Union Assembly Room, noon-1 p.m.

• SAC is gearing up for its next officer elections, which will see its largest change in years, since SAC bylaws dictate that long-time president Rich Colwell is not eligible to run. The election process begins in April with open positions being announced. Nominations from among the membership then will be accepted until SAC’s May meeting. Online voting tentatively is set to take place between the end of May and SAC’s June 14 meeting, when the results will be announced.

• SAC’s spring assembly noon-4 p.m. May 23 will focus on diversity and inclusion. Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion Pam Connelly will speak, and the event will include breakout sessions as well.

• SAC is taking online applications for the 2017 Staff Professional Development Award in honor of retired HR Vice Chancellor Ronald W. Frisch through April 7 ( This will be the first time the award is offered.


—Marty Levine



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