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February 21, 2008

SAC assembly to explore career advancement

Career advancement and staff development will be the focus of the Staff Association Council’s spring assembly. SAC’s assembly is set for April 9, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. in the William Pitt Union Assembly Room.

A five-member panel will describe how they were able to move up to higher-paying jobs at Pitt, Gwen Watkins, vice president of steering, told SAC last week. “It’s an assembly on mentoring other staff,” she said. “We’re not trying to find people jobs, but to mentor them about what they need to know. Following the panel presentation, we will break out into focus groups that will discuss how to improve skills, what training to get, who to see, where the help is and so forth.”

The panelists have not been finalized yet, Watkins said. “We’re also looking for staff mentors who have a certain expertise, such as how to manage a job while taking classes, to man the tables at the focus groups,” she added. (To volunteer as a staff mentor for SAC’s spring assembly, contact the SAC office at 4-4236.)

The assembly is open to all Pitt staff.

In other SAC developments:

• A benefits committee proposal to restore the policy covering re-employment after involuntary separation from the University — a policy that was changed in 2007 — was endorsed unanimously by SAC’s steering committee, President Rich Colwell reported.

Prior to the change, a University staff member who was involuntarily separated from Pitt could carry over accrued employee benefits for up to 12 months in the event the individual was re-hired by the University. In February 2007, that timeframe was reduced to 180 days.

(See University Times March 22, 2007.)

However, voting on the benefits committee proposal by the full SAC membership was tabled until SAC’s March 12 meeting due to the lack of a quorum at the Feb. 13 meeting.

• SAC’s salary and job classification committee is preparing its annual letter to Human Resources with recommendations for fiscal year 2009 salary pool increases, committee chair Pam Weid reported. SAC does not reveal its recommendations until the chancellor announces his salary pool decisions, which usually occurs in July.

• SAC’s research and information committee is compiling a list of contacts at peer institutions that have staff councils similar to Pitt’s SAC, according to co-chair Mike Semcheski.

• Karen Gavula, secretary of the staff council at Pitt-Greensburg, reported that her group voted to endow a scholarship, buoyed by an anonymous $5,000 donation. “These are just preliminary discussions,” Gavula said. “We have five years to raise [a total of] $10,000 in order to establish an endowment.”

Greensburg staff representatives also are looking for advice on setting up a “staff concerns” committee similar to the Pittsburgh SAC’s grievance committee, which supports staff members during the multi-step grievance procedure, Gavula said. Colwell, who is a grievance committee member, volunteered to provide advice.

• Watkins announced that SAC again will hold a holiday blanket drive for a local charity next December. “Last year, we held the drive for Lemington Community Services, and we got nearly 200 blankets, which in some cases was the only gift these seniors got,” Watkins said. SAC will designate a charity beneficiary at a later date. “The reason we are announcing this blanket drive so early is that we heard people say that if they knew about it earlier they could be making blankets all during the year.” (For more information on the holiday blanket drive, contact the SAC office at 4-4236.)

• Pitt Kennywood Day is set for Aug. 31, Watkins reported. “We usually have it on a Sunday in July, but with the number of people we get, we need to have Pavilion 5 to accommodate us,” she said. The pavilion was not available for earlier dates, she added.

—Peter Hart

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