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January 9, 1997

Student Affairs, CIS shifted to Provost area

In a move that Pitt senior administrators say will boost the University's educational mission, two key offices — Student Affairs and Computing and Information Services (CIS) — began reporting this week to Provost James Maher.

Student Affairs formerly reported to the Chancellor's office. CIS used to report to the Office of Business.

In a Jan. 6 Campus Update, Chancellor Mark Nordenberg wrote: "Few units are more critical to our educational mission than the Office of Student Affairs, an office that currently is functioning at an extremely high level. I am especially grateful for the strong, thoughtful and creative leadership that Interim Vice Chancellor [for Student Affairs] Robert Gallagher has provided.

"My own work with Dr. Gallagher and his colleagues has confirmed a belief also held by others — that most of our overall educational goals can be achieved only if there is an even higher level of coordination between academic and student life initiatives." As for CIS, the chancellor wrote: "Over time, that unit has fulfilled both business and academic functions, and it will continue to do so in the future. However, it seems clear that the most challenging problems now confronting us in this area involve the application of new technologies to instruction and research. Therefore, Provost Maher, Assistant Chancellor [Jerome] Cochran and I have agreed that this change will best position the University to move forward, while recognizing that this shift of CIS will in no way diminish its responsibility to effectively discharge its business support responsibilities." Provost Maher said the reorganization was a logical outgrowth of a trend toward closer ties between his office, Student Affairs and CIS.

"We've been cooperating more and more closely with Student Affairs during the last couple of years and finding that we could make real improvements in services to our students where curricular issues begin to merge with issues of the undergraduate experience outside the classroom," Maher said.

He cited recent, collaborative efforts by Student Affairs, the Provost's office and faculty groups to coordinate Pitt's student advising and placement services, and to develop living-learning centers in University residence halls.

Shifting CIS to the Provost's office will put CIS in closer contact with faculty who use technology in the classroom and with staff at the Center for Instructional Development and Distance Education, Maher said. CIDDE is the unit that's primarily responsible for helping schools, departments and regional campuses to meet academic goals in instructional development and technology, media support and distance education.

According to Maher, this week's reorganization brings Pitt closer in line with its fellow members of the elite American Association of American Universities (AAU).

During the last several years, he said, a growing number of AAU schools have moved their student affairs and computing operations into their academic affairs areas. "Twenty years ago, it was quite normal to have the system that we had prior to this week. Our new reporting structure is becoming more and more the norm nationally," Maher said.

The reorganization will not affect current staffing in CIS or Student Affairs, the provost said.

— Bruce Steele

Filed under: Feature,Volume 29 Issue 9

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