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April 27, 1995

O'Connor plans no executive staff raises, none till at least '96 for other employees

Chancellor J. Dennis O'Connor has ordered an immediate freeze on the salaries of Pitt's deans and nine administrative officers, including himself, to help balance the University's budget.

Unless Pitt's state appropriation proves to be considerably larger than what Gov. Tom Ridge has proposed — or the University finds some major new revenue source — O'Connor said he also plans to propose the following cost-cutting actions for Board of Trustees' approval this summer:

* The freeze on officers' salaries would continue throughout the 1996 fiscal year, which begins July 1, 1995. Deans' salaries would remain at their current level at least through January 1996.

* Faculty and staff salary would get no raises until January 1996, and then only if increases can be met through savings from employee attrition. Raises would not be retroactive. Thus, if a professor got a 3 percent increase in January, it would add up to a 1.5 percent actual raise for the fiscal year. Should faculty and staff salary raises be granted, O'Connor said, he has not decided yet whether to recommend differential increases — for example, higher percentage raises for lower-paid employees.

* All University-funded construction and renovation requests would be reviewed, with a delay on all but the most urgent projects.

* The athletics department would be required in FY 1996 to increase its revenues by $1 million and cut its expenses by $1 million. O'Connor said it would be up to athletics to decide how to meet those goals. "My guess is that part of the revenue enhancement will occur by increased television appearances. That will probably be the largest single factor," the chancellor said.

* No money from the Chancellor's Discretionary Fund will go toward the Magellan telescope project that Pitt is pursuing in partnership with the Carnegie Institution of Washington, D.C., and the University of Arizona. Construction of a 6.5-meter telescope on an Andes Mountain peak in Chile is expected to be completed in 1997.

Last October, the Board of Trustees approved an FY 1996 Pitt capital budget that included $8 million for Pitt to join the Magellan project. The trustees — some of whom argued that the money would be better spent on classrooms and laboratories — stipulated that at least $5 million of Pitt's share of the project must come from private gifts earmarked by donors for the telescope, with the remaining $3 million coming from the Chancellor's Discretionary Fund.

O'Connor pointed out that he still has the board's approval to use Chancellor's Discretionary Funds for the telescope — "but I'm not going to," he said. O'Connor said he is confident that Pitt will cover its share of the Magellan project through private gifts. The chancellor said he has a number of potential donors in mind "but I'm not about to reveal them at this time." The exact amount of money Pitt will be expected to contribute to the telescope project in FY 1996 is still uncertain because the participating universities have not finalized a contract yet, said O'Connor. "We hope to do so within the next several months," he said.

"I am hopeful that we will be able to maintain our place in line on the project because I think it's probably one of the most exciting scientific involvements that will occur until the end of the decade," O'Connor said.

O'Connor describes some of his cost-cutting actions, and his reasons for proposing them, in the Chancellor's Column on page 2 of this issue of the University Times.

He also discussed them at the March 16 meeting of the University Planning and Budgeting Committee and during a brief interview yesterday, April 26, with the University Times — the first interview he has granted the Times since his April 10 announcement that he will resign at the end of the 1995-96 academic year or when a new chancellor is found, whichever comes first.

While the wording of the Chancellor's Column might seem conditional regarding administrators' salaries (the column includes the proposed freeze among cost-containment actions that are "under active consideration by the administration"), O'Connor said emphatically during the interview: "There will be no senior administrative raises next year." Pitt administrative officers are O'Connor; James V. Maher, senior vice chancellor and provost; Thomas P. Detre, senior vice chancellor for Health Sciences; Ben J. Tuchi, senior vice chancellor for Business and Finance and University treasurer; Jeffrey A. Romoff, senior vice chancellor for Health Administration and president of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center; Robert E. Dunkelman, secretary of the corporation and of the Board of Trustees and special assistant to the chancellor; Leon L. Haley, vice chancellor for Student and Public Affairs; General Counsel Lewis M. Popper; and Lawrence M. Weber, vice chancellor for Institutional Advancement.

Regarding the review of all Pitt-funded capital requests, O'Connor said yesterday: "Everything is on the table. We're examining all of them. Those that have an impact on the operating budget of the University are getting very close scrutiny to see if they're absolutely essential. There are other capital projects that do not impact the operating budget and they probably will go forward, such as renovations of facilities through federal grant funds, for example, as opposed to renovation of facilities requiring [Pitt] physical plant funds." The chancellor said he remains committed to two major construction projects to be jointly funded by the University and the state's "Operation Jump Start" program: the planned multi-purpose academic facility on Forbes between Oakland Avenue and Bouquet Street ("I believe it is essential for the future well-being of the University," O'Connor said) and the convocation center, planned for a site adjacent to Pitt Stadium.

"I certainly want to pursue the convocation center. There's no question about that. If we are going to be a university that attracts the kinds of students we want to attract, our students need recreational space. And without the convocation center we can't have recreational space. It's a critical priority. I intend to pursue that one vigorously." As for the planned renovation of Bellefield Hall, O'Connor said: "I don't want to make a specific comment on that. That is an expensive renovation, and that will be examined."

— Bruce Steele

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