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May 1, 1997


Pitt should find other partners for community projects

To the editor:

The Pitt Scouts for Food project has just been concluded. I'm glad Pitt is committed to assisting in worthy projects such as gathering aid for hungry children. However, I'm writing to express my concern. The Boy Scouts of America, while providing needed and important services and education for our youth, continue to support homophobia and discrimination against gay men. Not only does their position hurt men who have talents and skills to offer in mentoring/leadership roles with scout troops, it harms gay youth who struggle towards self acceptance and who need positive gay role models.

I feel it is an outrage to work in conjunction with such a discriminatory organization, no matter how positive this specific program may be. It would be my hope that the University would find other collaborators and project partners so that needed helpful programs for children can still be a part of the University outreach and volunteering program.

When we quietly accept the discriminatory practices of such a group in the name of doing good, we act as co-discriminators, something I think must be objectionable to many here at the University. To gloss over this participation in homopho-bia, by citing only the positive outcomes of the food drive, we aid in the furthering of such discriminatory practices.

I feel proud to work for an employer that has an inclusive anti-discrimination policy in employment. This is part of the reason I have been a faithful employee for 7+ years. However, I find it sad that the inclusiveness we support in hiring isn't available to all, and that groups like the Scouts continue to follow exclusionary practices that harm our growing youth as well as adults. Why is it such a good thing to feed hungry youth yet give them the message that, if you are gay, you are no good and do not belong? Couldn't we find partners in projects that promote the claim that all human beings are people of worth, valued and needed as a part of the whole of our society?

Thomas C. Waters

Web information specialist

School of Pharmacy


Why are part-time faculty being ignored?

To the editor:

I found it deeply disturbing to read in the April 3 edition of the University Times that FAS plans to reduce the number of faculty and increase enrollment "does not mention the future status of part-time faculty in FAS." One out of every four faculty members at this University is a part-time faculty member. Why are we being ignored? Sadly, this is not the first time that part-time faculty members have been excluded from University plans and studies. In the March 20 edition of the University Times, a chart entitled "Faculty Salary Increases," released by the Office of Institutional Research, likewise excludes part-time faculty members. Of what use is a faculty salary chart which ignores one quarter of all faculty members? That chart would look quite different if people such as myself who make only $2,500 for each course that I teach (to say nothing of part-time faculty who make far less) were included on it.

I find it shocking to see that this University cares so little about undergraduate education that it is not even willing to include part-time faculty members–those who make undergraduate education at the University possible–in its studies and plans for the future.

Pat Harrington Wysor

Part-time Instructor

Department of English


UPJ search: "This is just no way to run a university."

To the editor:

I was one of the faculty members on the search committee for a new academic vice president at the Johnstown campus. At the last minute, after a year of work, when we had identified an excellent candidate who was interested in the job, our search was derailed by the Provost's office and UPJ was left to go another year without filling this critical position. I am writing a public letter because I think it is essential to shine a bright light on what has happened, to give my colleagues in Pittsburgh and at the regional campuses an opportunity to consider for themselves the implications of this episode.

The committee has received no direct explanation from the Provost's office. Indirectly, we were informed that the lack of any females in our top 15 or so candidates indicated that we had not done all we could do to recruit qualified women. It was suggested we might have contacted one or more gender-specific academic trade organizations, such as the American Council on Higher Education's Office of Women in Higher Education and the National Association of Women in Education. According to a quote in the University Times, Provost Maher has directly accused the committee of non-compliance with affirmative action guidelines.

The presence or absence of women among the top 15 candidates cannot reasonably be used as a criterion for the adequacy of a committee's recruitment efforts, if for no other reason than that such a criterion cannot be applied in a timely fashion. No matter how hard a committee tries, there is no way by this criterion for it to know whether it has "done enough" until after the position has been advertised, the deadline has passed, and all applications have come in and have been reviewed — in other words, not until it is too late.

In the present case, given the results, some might suspect our committee of bias against women. But it just isn't so. There were several women on the committee, including three faculty members and the president of the Student Senate, and our affirmative action officer is a woman. I tell you from my heart of hearts that we evaluated the applications fairly and thoroughly. There was a small group of candidates whose applications seemed clearly superior: broad, deep, highly relevant administrative experience, good scholarship, and excellent self-presentation in their written narrative. After that, there was a definite drop-off. If any of the women had been in, or perhaps even near, that top group, they would surely have been interviewed.

Is it plausible that contacting gender-specific organizations would have improved the female applicant pool? Not very. Anyone who is qualified for and interested in an academic vice presidency must be aware that such positions are advertised in The Chronicle of Higher Education and other standard academic forums. Anyone qualified for such a position must possess the initiative to peruse such ads, do some research about the institutions, and submit a professional-quality application for those positions that appear attractive. Why didn't we receive applications from women who were as well qualified as the best-qualified men? I suggest that it may be because the best-qualified women are in high demand, and a resource-starved regional campus in Johnstown, Pa., is not all that attractive. I may be wrong about that, but I am not wrong about this: Women had an equal opportunity to apply, and an equal opportunity to compete, for this position.

Nevertheless, if contacting gender-specific trade organizations is considered an essential component of the recruitment process at Pitt, why was the committee not so informed? The only affirmative action "guidelines" we received consisted of a few procedural directives and some forms to fill out. One of the forms required us to specify our "General Recruitment Sources" and our "Special Recruitment Sources." This information was submitted to, and approved by, the affirmative action officer in Pittsburgh. Thus, our recruitment sources — including advertising and any other contacts — were known or available to the administration in Pittsburgh months before the search was derailed. As a question merely of administrative competence (aside from any injustice to the Johnstown campus and the community it serves), if specific deficiencies in the search process were known and could have been corrected at the outset, how could the search have been allowed to proceed virtually to its conclusion before any action was taken? When you work all year on a committee to accomplish an important task, only to see your efforts tossed in the trash can for no plausible reason, it breeds a lot of cynicism. When you hear from numerous colleagues that this is nothing new, that other searches for administrative and faculty positions have been similarly disrupted over the years, the cynicism turns into bitterness. This is just no way to run a university.

Allan Walstad

Associate Professor of Physics

Johnstown Campus

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