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September 28, 2017

‘Pitt Principles’ to Be Discussed by Pitt Community in October Forum

The University community will have opportunities to provide input for five guiding principles proposed by the Senate special committee on diversity, inclusion and core values. A member of that committee, Senate President Frank Wilson summarized the committee’s efforts at the Sept. 20 Senate Council meeting.

“Whether we are eventually able to reach agreement on a formal statement of Pitt principles or not, if we continue to engage each other in principled and professional interaction about those [principles] that have been offered or may be offered later, the time will not have been wasted, and our university will be stronger,” Wilson said.

The “Pitt Principles” would serve as a reference for the University community during moments of crisis, Wilson said.

The principles address free expression, pursuit of knowledge, diversity and inclusion, public service and shared governance. See the entire document on the University Senate website.

Wilson had shared a preview of his Senate presentation with Faculty Assembly at its Sept. 12 meeting, where the removal of a social justice statement from the draft was discussed. That edit had been made despite the objection of a few committee members, including Wesley Rohrer, a faculty member in the Graduate School of Public Health.

“I think it is worth reconsidering the inclusion of that [social justice] statement, and I hope to begin an opportunity to do that,” Rohrer said at the Sept. 12 meeting.

“Some people think it’s a hot-button issue and needs to be avoided. Some of us think it’s part of our core jobs at the University. … I think that’s one of the important [topics] that will certainly be a theme throughout the year, as well it should be,” said Wilson in his response to Rohrer’s comment.

The first opportunity for discussion will take place in 2500 Wesley W. Posvar Hall at about 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 10, following the Faculty Assembly meeting. The entire University community is invited to attend and participate in discussion.

Chancellor Reaffirms Importance of Core Values, Comments on Stalled State Funding

In his report to the Senate, Chancellor Patrick Gallagher reflected on the recent general divisiveness on college campuses across the U.S. and urged the Pitt campus community “to refocus on those core values.”

“[The environment] also, I think, reflects a fundamental misunderstanding about how universities work. I think, to a lot of the general public, this idea of an open, permissive place that allows such wide latitude of expression and yet one that is fundamentally a community where everybody has the right to belong to that community and to fully participate in it strikes many people as inconsistent. We know that it’s not inconsistent. We know that it’s, in fact, the magic sauce that makes a university work,” said Gallagher.

He also referenced the unresolved state revenue package, which has left Pitt’s funding in what he referred to as limbo. Gallagher shared his appreciation for the members of the Pitt community who have reached out to state leaders. The University passed its budget in July while factoring in the total of last year’s state appropriation.

Faculty Affairs Committee Approved, Members Named

The Senate echoed the Faculty Assembly by unanimously approving a motion for a new Senate standing committee — faculty affairs. The committee will look at faculty development and performance and engagement, among other issues not addressed by an already existing committee.

The Senate also approved the appointment of eight charter members, who will serve on the faculty affairs committee until Senate elections next spring. Those members include: Yodit Betru, social work; Chris Bonneau, political science; Helen Cahalane, social work; Lorraine Denman, French and Italian languages and literatures; A. Murat Kaynar, critical care medicine; Patrick Loughlin, bioengineering; Dawn Lundy Martin, English; and Thomas Songer, epidemiology.

The next meetings of Faculty Assembly and Senate Council will be held Oct. 10 and 18, respectively.


Katie Fike,, 412-624-1085


Filed under: Feature,Volume 50 Issue 3

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