Concern Connection line has steady usage, Gift says


The Pitt Concern Connection, a year-old hotline for reporting any potential issue at Pitt, is a success, says Laurel Gift, assistant vice chancellor in the Office of Compliance, Investigations & Ethics.

“We receive complaints every day,” said Gift, speaking to the March 16 meeting of Staff Council. She and a colleague screen and assign the concerns, which come in via a website or phone, notify the appropriate office (from Human Resources to student conduct, athletics and many others) and assign each to a case manager.

She said there were “lots” of reported concerns from resident assistants and resident directors about students in housing and “still a lot of COVID and a lot of sexual misconduct (reports), unfortunately,” from the general Pitt community, although she characterized the average month as having a “fairly low” number of complaints.

The Pitt Concern Connection began in May 2020 as a COVID-specific hotline to report issues surrounding social distancing and masking, then morphed into a general hotline a year later.

“It is also used by our community members,” she said, “if someone were to … disclose something that you think should be reported” to Human Resources or the Title IX office, which handles sexual misconduct complaints.

Concerns reported to the hotline can cover a myriad of issues, which Gift listed as “communication, environmental, accounting/audit, bullying, discrimination, child abuse or neglect, conflict of interest, corruption, academic concerns, campus safety, COVID-19 behavioral/medical, employee relations, disclosure of confidential information, fraud, gifts/entertainment, harassment, hazing, HIPAA (privacy of medical records), identity theft, misappropriation, NCAA rules violations, research, retaliation, sexual misconduct/inappropriate behavior, student health, FERPA (privacy of educational records) and workplace violence.”

Asked whether there were any complaints about Pitt’s flexible working agreements, she said the Concern Connection line had received complaints about “employees not being happy about having to come back to work” and about the University’s response to the pandemic, but not about the flexible working agreements  specifically.

In other Staff Council news:

  • Human Resources head James Gallaher told Staff Council that Pitt’s compensation modernization effort, years in the making, will be completed in “the second half of the year. We’re hoping to have the job sorting and mapping done by July, but there’s a lot more to do.”

  • Those encountering construction roadblocks on the upper campus can soon look for a new construction map from the Office of Parking, Transportation & Services, a Staff Council member reported, but in the meantime construction updates should be available on that office’s mobility website.

  • Thus far, no Pitt Day at Kennywood is being planned for this year. It has traditionally been Staff Council’s biggest social event and fundraiser each year, prior to the pandemic.

  • Staff Council President Angie Coldren reported that its new Staff Council Spotlight series of monthly discussions with Pitt officials will begin on March 30, with a representative of the chief financial officer’s office covering the University’s new budget model. A presentation on the new recreation and wellness facility is tentatively scheduled for April 19, with future Spotlight sessions to be held on Pitt’s new walk-to-work initiative (May) and compensation modernization project (June). Staff Council is still determining whether to restrict attendance to its members or open these sessions to others in the Pitt community.

Marty Levine is a staff writer for the University Times. Reach him at or 412-758-4859.


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