Faculty Affairs hears about new budget model, Black cluster hire


Besides expressing faculty concerns about starting another uncertain semester teaching with COVID-19 in the air (see related article), the University Senate’s Faculty Affairs committee on Sept. 7 heard about the progress of several University initiatives, including the new budget model and the Black faculty hiring initiative.

New budget model

Chris Bonneau, political science faculty member and former Senate president, who sits on the University committee overseeing the parallel implementation of the new and old budget models this year, said it was still uncertain whether Pitt would need a new mechanism of oversight for the budget model that would include more input from faculty groups.

“Is it going to change the way things operate at all, or is it just … going to make accounting more transparent?” he asked.

“I think its going to change the way deans act, including hiring,” he added, noting that the new model was designed in part “to get deans to take some risks and create new streams of revenue” for their schools. It will be revealing, he said, under the new responsibility center model to see not only how Pitt is subsidizing athletics but also how some schools are doing more with less. If some deans are running a deficit without a solution being sought, he said, it also will be interesting to see whether something is done to balance those schools’ books.

Other issues

  • John Wallace, vice provost for faculty diversity and development, reported that 21 Black faculty had joined Pitt this fall under the provost’s office’s new cluster hire and retention Initiative, with the majority in the health sciences.

  • Tom Songer, epidemiology faculty member, noted that the committee will eventually be reviewing a new policy currently being developed in Pitt’s policy office, the “Conflict of Commitment and Outside Activities of Faculty and Staff Policy.” This will replace the current “Outside Employment” policy to govern how University employees can undertake additional work related to their Pitt-affiliated disciplines.

  • Committee co-chair Lorraine Denman, French and Italian faculty member, said the committee would aim this semester to prompt the University to codify and standardize its criteria and process for promotion and tenure among all its schools. Several committee members objected that the schools of the Health Sciences seemed to have an extra level of oversight required during the promotion and tenure process. They said the Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor for the Health Sciences, dating back decades, promulgated a spoken but unwritten rule that top-level research grants were a prerequisite for promotion, which left faculty uncertain how the promotion process officially worked.

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


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