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May 28, 2009

Schiffer, Watkins run for SAC president

This year’s election for Staff Association Council (SAC) president pits Fred Schiffer, chair of the safety and security committee, against Gwendolyn L. Watkins, vice president of steering.

The SAC officers’ slate was announced at the May 20 meeting. Voting continues until 2:30 p.m. June 16. Only full members are eligible to vote. The results will be announced at the June 17 meeting. Officers serve two-year terms beginning July 1.

Running for vice president of steering are Rich Colwell, current SAC president, and Barbara Mowery, immediate past president.

Annabelle Clippinger, former chair of the elections committee (who resigned as chair in order to run for office), and Elizabeth Hilf, chair of the marketing and communications committee, are vying for vice president of marketing and communications.

There are three candidates for treasurer: Angie Coldren, vice president of marketing and communications; Monika Losagio, chair of the salary and job classification committee, and Peggy McNeil, chair of the program and planning committee.

In announcing his candidacy for president, Schiffer drew on his experience outside Pitt as a former member of the board of directors of the A-K Valley Federal Credit Union, and current member of the Washington Township (Westmoreland County) Planning Commission, where he reviews citizens’ requests and makes recommendations.

Schiffer, who has been a member of SAC since 2003, also cited his staff council work of preparing charts for comparison of staff salary data against the annual cost of living percentages. “The purpose of these charts is to allow the members of the Staff Association Council to financially help the people of the University as a whole by watching for the fair and equitable application of the current rules and policies. I ask for your support to continue these goals,” Schiffer wrote in a prepared statement that accompanied the ballots.

Schiffer, who started at Pitt in 2000, is a systems engineer in Computing Services and Systems Development stationed at the Network Operations Center in RIDC, O’Hara Township.

Watkins, who is special events coordinator in the Office of Community Relations, has been a SAC member for more than 20 years, serving in various capacities including as treasurer and chair of the program and planning committee. She has coordinated the annual Pitt Kennywood Day since its inception 17 years ago.

“As chair of program and planning I initiated fundraisers and programs to include Christmas projects that have allowed SAC to extend services to those less fortunate than us through agencies like the Salvation Army, Lemington Senior Center and several women’s shelters,” Watkins stated.

Watkins was instrumental in establishing the SAC Endowed Book Fund for Children of Staff and serves as chair of the book fund committee.

She was a recipient of the 2008 Chancellor’s Award for Staff for Excellence in Community Service and, more recently, was recognized as one of 12 “phenomenal women” in the winter 2009 Pitt magazine, where she appears on the cover.

“My greatest asset is that I do not have a personal agenda. I genuinely wish to see that each staff member receives what is right and best for her or him,” Watkins stated. “Pitt staff are a vital part of the system that keeps the wheels of our institution oiled and running.”

—Peter Hart

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