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May 29, 2008

SAC considers unlimited terms for officers

Officers of the Staff Association Council (SAC) would be permitted to succeed themselves without term limits under a proposal to amend the council’s bylaws. Currently, officers may serve for a maximum of three consecutive two-year terms.

Peggy McNeil reported that the governance committee, which she co-chairs, had approved a revision to the bylaws (Article VII, Section 2) to delete the term limit. According to SAC President Rich Colwell, the proposed bylaws change also was approved by the steering committee, which is composed of officers and committee chairs and co-chairs.

The proposal is not without its detractors. A member of SAC’s steering committee, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the University Times that the proposal passed that committee by a vote of 9-6 following “a very heated and quite contentious debate.”

The proposed bylaws revision was read aloud at the May 21 public meeting, and must be read aloud at two more SAC meetings before it can go to a vote of the full SAC membership, said Colwell.

Current officers Colwell, vice president for steering Gwen Watkins, vice president for marketing and communications Angie Coldren and treasurer Carol Hodgkiss will complete their two-year terms on June 30, 2009.

Hodgkiss and Colwell will be completing their maximum third consecutive terms under current bylaws. Colwell also served three one-year terms as president from July 1998 to June 2001 (the maximum number of consecutive terms then allowed). From July 2001 to June 2003 he served as vice president for steering.

In 2001, SAC voted to extend officers’ terms of service from one to two years. But at that time SAC voted down a bylaws amendment to allow officers to run for the same office for more than three consecutive terms.

Also at the May 21 meeting, elections committee chair Betty Homonai announced that six new associate members had been approved by Human Resources.

New associate members are: Meg Mayer-Costa, Student Health Service; Julia Johnson, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs; Walter T. Kalista III, Housing and Food Services; Lisa T. Pilewski, Office of Clinical Research; Cynthia Saber, School of Dental Medicine, and Adriana Maguina-Ugarte, Center for Latin American Studies. SAC will host an orientation luncheon for the new members on July 16.

Under council bylaws, new members serve two-year terms, starting as associate members for six months prior to gaining full member status. Associate members are required to join one or more of SAC’s nine standing committees, but cannot hold officer or committee chair positions, nor can they vote.

SAC officers reported on their May 15 trip to Pitt-Titusville for the annual Council of Campuses meeting. Staff associations rotate hosting the event, which this year drew 12 staff leaders from four of Pitt’s campuses (UPG staff leaders did not attend).

SAC vice president Coldren said the meeting enhanced camaraderie among the campus staff organizations, as staff exchanged views on salary raises in relation to the cost of living, health care costs and accessibility, limitations to using educational benefits on the regional campuses, campus parking fees and the staff job appraisal system.

Staff leaders reported on the charitable activities that their respective staff associations perform and on morale-boosting events on and off campus, such as employee picnics, golf and bowling outings and trips.

The staff leaders agreed that the recently completed University-wide MyHealth Weight Race drew heavy participation and enthusiasm at their respective campuses.

The group was welcomed by UPT President William Shields and was given a campus tour by UPT staff member Cricket Wencil-Tracey.

Staff leaders heard a presentation from UPT campus police officer Randall Schwabenbauer, who also serves on a state task force investigating Internet predators.

Schwabenbauer spoke on “Protecting Kids Online.” Pittsburgh SAC members agreed to invite Schwabenbauer to speak at the SAC fall assembly on a date to be announced.

In other SAC developments:

•Colwell recommended that all employees sign up for the Pitt’s emergency notification system (ENS). To sign up, go to, then use the ENS link.

•The SAC benefits committee approved two proposals: to update Pitt’s policies on employee flex time, and to recommend that Human Resources conduct a staff survey on satisfaction with Pitt’s benefits selections.

Acting committee chair Sherry Viann Shrum reported that current University policies allow flex time at the discretion of the supervisor, but said generally flex time is not encouraged. “We’d like to see the policy updated to encourage flex time,” Shrum said.

The SAC benefits committee is updating SAC’s web site to educate staff about Pitt’s benefits and to promote commercial discounts for which staff are eligible, she said.

•SAC’s safety and security committee will sponsor CPR training sessions in the fall, with dates to be announced, committee chair Fred Schiffer reported.

•The 18th annual Pitt-Kennywood Day, originally set for Aug. 31, has been re-scheduled for Sept. 13. For more information, contact the SAC office at 4-4236.

—Peter Hart

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