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March 3, 2005

Assembly Discusses Univ. Club, Other Issues

Faculty Assembly discussed a hodge-podge of concerns and suggestions this week, including potential uses for the about-to-be purchased University Club; dissemination of information on the new PeopleSoft software package; the fairness of the new policies governing men’s basketball season tickets, and certain little-known health benefits.

Members at the March 1 Assembly suggested that a faculty club could be housed in the University Club, the 81-year-old building at 123 University Place that Pitt plans to purchase at the end of April. (See story on page 1.)

Members argued that a club could share space with revenue-generating non-Pitt businesses that could subsidize a faculty club. “This is a multi-purpose facility that could house a business with a faculty club as a tuck-in,” said Senate President Nicholas Bircher.

But he argued against adopting an Assembly resolution to urge establishing a faculty club in the building, in favor of first fact-gathering about potential costs to operate such a club. “We’re not ready to present a reasonable plan involving direct or indirect subsidies,” Bircher said.

Other suggestions for the building included converting it into a conference center and housing visiting speakers.

Assembly member Glenn Nelson charged that Pitt’s administration had done a shoddy job disseminating information to faculty on the PeopleSoft program that is being implemented to replace ISIS, the student records system.

“This system applies to academic records, registration and grades,” Nelson said. “I want to know how the limitations of this software will impact academic procedures and educational policies. How will this software affect my job as a faculty member?”

Nelson further charged that the University Senate was not involved throughout the approval and implementation processes of the software package.

But Andrew Blair, vice provost for Faculty Affairs and a Provost’s office liaison to Faculty Assembly, strongly disagreed. “This was very carefully planned, widely discussed with broadly based input, and has been disseminated through the Dean’s Council and to all [relevant] administrators,” Blair insisted. He said that student records personnel across campus were trained or being trained on the software, beginning in January.

Senate Vice President Irene Frieze, interim co-chair of the computer usage committee, said that her committee would look into Nelson’s complaint.

Assembly members complained that the new men’s basketball season ticket policy unfairly punished loyal ticket holders by not guaranteeing them right of first refusal for the seats they currently hold.

Frieze pointed out that the athletics department is sending representatives to the next Faculty Assembly meeting, set for April 5, to answer questions on the ticket policy.

Herbert Chesler of the Senate benefits and welfare committee reported that the UPMC Health Plan includes access to Assist America, a global emergency services program that covers medical or non-medical emergencies for enrollees who are more than 100 miles from Pittsburgh, including out of the United States.

Medical services include consultation and referral, prescription assistance, evacuation, related needs for transportation and care of family members, and return of mortal remains.

More information is available on line at:

In other Faculty Assembly news:

* Bircher reported that G. Reynolds Clark, vice chancellor for Community and Governmental Relations, would be presenting a slide show to Senate Council March 14 on the expected changes to traffic patterns and pedestrian walkways during the conversion of Schenley Plaza into a public park.

* Paul Munro of the plant utilization and planning committee said that the elevators in Posvar Hall will be renovated this summer.

* The Assembly had a moment of silence in honor of member Tom Metzger, who died Feb. 24. (See obituary on page 2.)

-Peter Hart

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