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April 16, 2009

Senate anti-discriminatory policies statement approved

The University Senate anti-discriminatory policies committee is on its way to having a new mission statement that better represents its role and responsibilities.

Faculty Assembly on April 7 unanimously approved the committee’s proposal, which also is on Senate Council’s April 15 agenda for approval.

Committee chairperson Lynn Fitzgerald said the new statement emphasizes the committee’s availability to all members of the community without identifying specific groups and reflects the committee’s ability to address any issue related to discrimination and inclusion.

The new mission statement reads: “The anti-discriminatory policies committee supports the overall mission of the University through discussion of the University’s policies, practices and programs regarding diversity and inclusion. The committee reviews issues relating to fairness and respect for all members of the diverse University community and offers recommendations for maintaining, developing and promoting anti-discriminatory policies at the University. While the committee establishes its own areas and topics of inquiry, it encourages communications from students, staff, faculty and the administration on all matters of access, civil rights and equal opportunity.”

The committee’s current mission statement is more specific, stating in part, “We consider policy issues that impact women, minorities, individuals with disabilities, etc. and attempt to assist the University through discussion and advice.” Fitzgerald said that mission statement doesn’t reflect the committee’s role and responsibilities, which have changed.

“The committee wanted it to be open as communities change,” she said. In the past year the committee has taken up issues regarding gender, age and aging, disability, diversity and racial issues, sexual orientation and sexual harassment, Fitzgerald noted.

Senate President John J. Baker reminded members that Senate elections take place April 13-24. “I would like to see a record turnout for this election,” he said.
The Senate commonwealth relations committee and Pitt’s Governmental Relations office has scheduled luncheons April 24 with state Rep. Rob Matzie (D-16) and May 1 with state Rep. Mike Turzai (R-28). Those interested in attending should call 4-6504.

Baker commented on Pitt’s annual continuing faculty salary report. (See April 2 University Times.) “Even though we had the highest salary pool increase in years, for which I am grateful, over half our faculty had pay increases that were lower than the inflation rate of 4.1 percent for the pay period in question,” he said.

“Given the current economic climate we should not be overly critical but it is a concern. Pitt will become uncompetitive in retaining faculty if it continues to give most of its faculty pay raises below the inflation rate over multiple years.” Baker noted that while the administration is aware of this, it has no easy options given the lack of state support. New revenue streams need to be found, he said. “Some tough choices are going to have to be made in the next few years. Making the right ones will be the major challenge facing the administration and my successor as Senate president.”

In other business:

• Ivy Ero of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank encouraged donations during Pitt’s Partnership for Food drive. (See related story this issue.)

• Assembly’s April 7 meeting was held at the University Club. Eli Shorak, associate vice chancellor for business, said 471 members have joined the club, which opened April 1.

• Regional campus faculty presidents have been invited to Assembly’s May 5 meeting to discuss regional salary benchmarking. Proposed changes in tenure for medical school faculty also will be on the agenda, Baker said.

—Kimberly K. Barlow

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