Kear says administration finally clarifying issues surrounding new budget model


After months of asking for more clarity about Pitt’s new budget model and how it will work with shared governance, Senate President Robin Kear reported to Faculty Assembly and the Budget Policies committee that some progress has been made.

Kear said she and Chris Bonneau, immediate past president of Senate Council, met with Provost Ann Cudd and Chief Financial Officer Hari Sastry recently to discuss a resolution passed last month by Faculty Assembly aimed at strengthening shared governance’s role under the modified responsibility center budget model and seeking more transparency.

“We went through the resolution point by point,” Kear said. The provost and CFO also are scheduled to attend the May Faculty Assembly meeting to give an update on the budget model.

The new approach shifts all revenue from tuition, fees and grants to the schools and then each school will pay a 16 percent “participation fee” — sometimes called a tax — back to the central administration to pay for strategic development and other initiatives. The schools also must pay fees to support shared services, such as Human Resources and IT.

Kear shared some details of a memo the provost and CFO plan to send to deans that would “really strengthen the existing planning and budget committee structure and also hold deans accountable for the functioning of PBCs (planning and budgeting committees) in their units.”

The provost’s office said the memo is still being developed. Kear outlined what she believes some of the goals of the memo will be:

  • PBC members and bylaws of a PBC should be publicly posted to a unit’s website. If a PBC does not have bylaws, they should be created.

  • PBCs should be majority elected and should meet regularly during the budget cycle.

  • PBCs should be involved in budgetary goal setting and strategic priority setting, as well as the annual responsibility center resource proposal (RCRP), helping to align the budget to goals.

  • PBCs would see budgetary information from the previous year's RCRP at the start of the budget cycle year sometime in early fall. “As we know now they have not always received budgetary information,” Kear said.

  • While PBCs serve in an advisory position to deans and unit heads, Kear said any vote taken by the PBC to recommend or not recommend the RCRP would be reported to the provost and the chief financial officer.

  • There will be an informational meeting for all unit PBCs at the start of the budget cycle held by the CFOs office. This meeting should include the Senate president and the Budget Policies chair. There also will be an orientation for new PBC members developed by the CFO’s office.

  • Before the end of this fiscal year, deans and unit heads should be communicating with their current PBC with more information about the new budget model, and the provost and CFO will send a reminder to do that.

  • The provost and the CFO will report annually to Faculty Assembly on the status of the new budget model, and then a comprehensive review of the budget model is planned for the five-year mark.

“I really thought it was nice to see a commitment to the planning and budget committees — improving them and improving their information and improving their visibility, because that group should be very informed and influential in the new budget process,” Kear said at the Budget Policies meeting on April 8.

She also said there will be a full review of the planning and budgeting system, hopefully within the next two years, to include the new memo’s guidance and the new support responsibility center committee. This committee will discuss what level of service the units are getting from each support group, such as IT and HR, and make budget recommendations for the support groups to top leadership. That committee also will now have a representative from the Senate.

Tyler Bickford, chair of the Budget Policies committee, told Kear he really appreciated her work over the past three months “on kind of getting this unstuck. I appreciate you encouraging us to move forward and develop some recommendations and then you chasing those down. I think this is a much different place than we were in four months ago.”

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at or 724-244-4042.


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