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November 7, 1996

Trustees schedule closed retreat to discuss capital campaign plans, administrative efficiency report

Plans for a major capital fund-raising campaign, a report on Pitt administrative efficiency and an update on the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) System will be among the discussion topics at a day-long retreat by the Board of Trustees Nov. 23.

The on-campus meeting will be closed to the public.

Board chairperson J. Wray Connolly said he has asked UPMC President Jeffrey Romoff to give a progress report at the retreat on the medical center's strategic plan.

The plan, launched two years ago, includes acquiring and affiliating with hospitals throughout the region, among other initiatives.

Recently, UPMC and a network of affiliated hospitals — together with Blue Cross of Western Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Blue Shield — created a point-of-service health plan called Tri-State SelectBlue for employees at those hospitals. See story beginning on page 1.

UPMC has "a clear vision. I think it's the right vision for the times ahead," Connolly told trustees at the board's Oct. 24 public meeting.

If UPMC achieves its current goals, it will emerge as the nation's fourth-largest health care provider, Connolly said.

Romoff declined to comment prior to the trustees' retreat.

Also at the Nov. 23 retreat, trustees are scheduled to discuss a soon-to-be-completed report by Coopers & Lybrand Consulting, hired by the University administration last summer to suggest ways to improve efficiency and cut costs in Pitt's administrative units.

At last week's trustees meeting, Chancellor Mark Nordenberg reported on actions the University already has taken this year to streamline its operations.

Reorganizations of Pitt's Facilities Management division and Computing and Information Services office will pare $1.2 million and $650,000, respectively, from the base employee compensation budgets of those units, Nordenberg said.

An additional half-million dollars in compensation cuts are planned for other Pitt auxiliary operations, the chancellor said.

Reorganizations of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the College of General Studies administrations have cut a total of $750,000 from those units' base compensation budgets, Nordenberg said.

In each of those units, delivery of services has improved despite personnel cuts, he told the board.

Nordenberg made his remarks during a report on progress toward meeting five University goals that the board set in February.

One of the goals was increasing administrative efficiency and effectiveness. Another was maintaining excellence in research. The other goals were: aggressively pursuing excellence in undergraduate education, part-nering in community development, and securing an adequate resource base. Regarding the University's resource base, Nordenberg noted that Pitt has hired an outside consultant to advise on fundraising. The chancellor said he plans to name a new vice chancellor for Institutional Advancement, Pitt's chief fundraiser, "within a few weeks." Board chairperson Connolly said the University had not yet drafted a long-range blueprint for fundraising, which would include plans for a major capital campaign. (In February, the board had asked to see such a plan at its October meeting.) But the plan should be developed in the near future and will be discussed at this month's board retreat, Connolly said.

Despite administrative turnover and "less than positive" publicity about the University, voluntary support for Pitt totaled $41.4 million last year, a 5 percent increase over the year before, Nordenberg pointed out.

The chancellor called that a "strong showing" but said Pitt can and must do better in raising funds. Support from foundations continues to be strong, but individual givers remain a "greatly untapped" source of contributions to Pitt, Nordenberg said.

As for financial support from the state, Nordenberg said he had separate meetings last month with Pennsylvania's budget secretary, secretary of education and the governor's chief of staff.

"They all underscored their strong support for higher education" — but also the fact that this will be a tight budgeting year in Harrisburg, Nordenberg said.

But the chancellor added: "I think we are far ahead of where we were last year at this time in preparing and advancing the University's case." Academically, the percentage of entering freshmen who were in the top 10 percent of their high school classes increased from 21 to 25 percent, Nordenberg said. SAT scores among freshmen were up by five points, he noted. For more statistics on undergraduate enrollment and academic performance, see story beginning on page 1.

Among the current initiatives that the chancellor cited for improving the quality of campus life for Pitt students were: * Developing experimental living/learning centers in residence halls.

* Renovating Bellefield Hall to increase space for student recreation.

* Completing the last stage of a four-year plan to extend computer network access to every Pitt dorm room.

Regarding the fifth goal of partnering community development, Nordenberg noted the potential of Pitt technology transfer activities to create jobs. See story on page 5.

And the chancellor cited good relations with the mayor's office and county commissioners over the test closing of Bigelow Boulevard.

Nordenberg said, "We passed that test with flying colors" and said he will continue to push for a permanent closing of that street between Forbes and Fifth avenues.

In other business, the trustees amended Pitt's bylaws to change the title of "chancellor" to "chancellor and chief executive officer." Other bylaw amendments eliminated the age limitation for trustees and eliminated the charter trustee class.

Also, the board elected Pitt Director of Finance Marlin D. Pease as assistant treasurer and approved a new master of public policy and management degree program in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.

The program is designed for students with at least five years' experience as managers and public policy makers.

— Bruce Steele

Filed under: Feature,Volume 29 Issue 6

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