Plenary will look at how Senate committees are addressing equity and inclusion


The annual Senate Plenary is expanding to two days this year and will focus on how the Senate and its committees are addressing systemic racism, equity and justice.


Noon-2:30 p.m. April 7: Three panel discussions. Access via Zoom, with passcode, 285662.

2 p.m. April 8: Discussion of “Picture a Scientist.” Register here.

The first day — noon to 2:30 p.m. April 7 — will include remarks from senior Pitt administrators and Senate President Chris Bonneau, along with reports from three of the committees — Student Admissions, Aid and Affairs; Educational Policies; and Equity, Inclusion and Anti-Discrimination Advocacy — on the work they’ve done this year on equity.

Senate Vice President David Salcido said they don’t have time to have each of the Senate committees give a report, “but we want to represent a great portion of their findings, show the lessons that we’ve learned, and the directions that their findings can lead us in.”

The reports of all the committees can be found here. Salcido said several of the committees have already rewritten their mission statements to include language about anti-racism, equity and justice. And the work will continue.

One of the goals of the plenary, Salcido said, is let everyone at the University know “that the Senate is taking the issue of systemic racism and equity seriously, we’re actually putting time and effort into learning and examining through our work.”

There also will be a panel discussion called “Building an Equitable Institution,” featuring Clyde Pickett, vice chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; John Wallace, vice provost for Faculty Diversity and Development, and Destiny Mann, president of the Black Senate and vice president of the Black Action Society.

A third panel discussion will focus on creation of the new anti-Black racism course, which incoming freshmen were required to take in the fall, with members of the committee that developed it.

Salcido will moderate a Q&A session after each of the panels.

On April 8, the Senate Research committee has organized a discussion about the documentary “Picture a Scientist” — which looks at the difficulties faced by women scientists. Pitt faculty, staff and students can view the film anytime for free here: Picture a Scientist. You will be need to login with your credentials.

The panel will include Paula Davis, associate vice chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Health Sciences; Nicole Kaminski, a fourth-year graduate student in molecular pharmacology, and Christine Schmidt, chair of the University of Florida Department of Bioengineering, who has led a successful campaign to increase diversity at Florida. They’ll be joined by one of the filmmakers behind the documentary, Sharon Shattuck.

Participants can attend all of the sessions or just one.

“I want them to come and listen,” Salcido said. “Everybody who is going to be speaking … is really serious about combating racism and its effects at Pitt and beyond. And this is an environment where you can discuss these issues with people who are experts.”

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


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