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November 22, 2006

SAC affirms committee chairs

The Staff Association Council (SAC) last week announced the new leaders of its nine committees. Committee chairs and co-chairs are selected by the committees and serve one-year terms.

Newly affirmed committee chairs and co-chairs include: Steve Zupcic, chair of benefits; Betty Homonai, chair of elections; Ann Ostroski, chair, and Carol Hodgkiss, co-chair, of governance; Carol Hodgkiss, chair of grievance; Jasmine Hoffman, chair of marketing and communications; Anna Sangl, chair, and Gwen Watkins, co-chair, of program and planning; Ann Ostroski, chair, and Dana DiVirgilio-Thomas, co-chair, of research and information, and Fred Schiffer, chair of safety and security.

The chair of the salary and job classification committee is expected to be affirmed at the Dec. 13 SAC meeting.

Also at the Nov. 15 meeting, SAC officers announced this year’s winners of the SAC Endowed Book Fund for Children of Staff.

Winners are:

• Sophomore Jessica Bopp, an English writing/journalism major, whose mother, Lisa Bopp, is a staff member in the Department of Neurobiology/Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition;

• Sophomore Nathaniel Mohney, a chemistry major, whose mother, Joanne Mohney, is a staffer at Computing Services and Systems Development;

• Sophomore Melissa Nero, a history/pre-law student, whose mother, Elizabeth Nero, works in the Office of Medical Education.

Winners receive $200, redeemable at Pitt book stores, and are recognized at the annual long-term staff recognition event, which this year is set for Dec. 5.

The book fund has raised more than $9,000 of the $10,000 needed to fund an endowment. Watkins, SAC vice president of steering, said, “We hope to continue raising money for the book fund well beyond that.”

In other SAC developments:

Zupcic reported that the SAC benefits committee’s investigation into differential retiree benefits for faculty and staff revealed that the only differences are related to faculty emeritus status, a special designation that the University confers on outstanding faculty members upon their retirement.

“Retirement privileges for faculty with emeritus status include library privileges and a continued computer account,” Zupcic said. “Not all faculty are given these privileges and they are not part of the employee benefits package. This is a fairly rarefied group of people and those privileges are a reward.”

Zupcic said he will propose that a similar reward system be established for staff upon retirement based on a formula that includes length of service. The details remain to be worked out.. “We’ll see where that proposal goes,” he said.

Zupcic said that the benefits committee also is looking into procedures following the death of an active or retired staff member, including the responsibilities of administrators.

Ron Frisch, associate vice chancellor for Human Resources, said that two years ago HR developed a brochure describing for survivors Pitt’s death benefits. Benefits relationship manager Nancy Gilkes is overseeing communication to retirees about those benefits, Frisch added.

“We have a brochure in place to help people navigate through difficult times, including for the spouses of employees. But that may need to be reviewed by the benefits committee to make sure it meets the objectives,” Frisch said.

“We don’t advertise this, but we have one individual in benefits who spends the better part of the day talking to funeral homes and newspapers and helping people navigate through the issues associated with the University if an active staff member passes away,” Frisch added.

Zupcic agreed to bring the brochure to the benefits committee for review.

—Peter Hart

Filed under: Feature,Volume 39 Issue 7

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