Relocation policy update moves closer to approval in Senate


Pitt’s relocation policy, which will govern how the University reimburses departments and units that have decided to pay for specific moving expenses of new faculty or staff hires, is one step closer to finalization following review by the University Senate’s Faculty Affairs committee at its Oct. 21 meeting.

The policy governs reimbursement for relocation expenses of full-time faculty or staff — both new hires and current employees transferring to a new University location — and covers moving household items and traveling.  (It does not cover lab or other research or teaching materials, which are already handled by another policy.)

Anthony Graham, senior policy specialist in the Office of Policy Development and Management, said that the policy “doesn’t impact a lot of the procedures that are in place” already — “it clarifies some things.” The policy includes a required one-year commitment to Pitt by new hires if the University is to pay for any of their relocation costs, for instance, and a chart listing many items for which new hires would need special permission before reimbursement (such as shipping of coin collections or transportation of outbuildings — tool sheds and the like — from previous dwellings).

Budgeting restraints and reviews required by Pitt’s software that handles expenses — Concur — prompts these approvals for many items, he explained.

Gosia Fort, committee co-chair and head of digital resource development for the Health Sciences Library System, said the policy really seemed to govern “the privilege” that the University “may” offer payments if the unit decides to hire someone who is deemed important enough to reimburse.

Examining the details of the policy, she also asked Graham how long a new hire would be reimbursed for using temporary housing, since reimbursement for storage of personal items is limited to 30 days.

“We really couldn’t wrestle that to the ground” to put a specific limit on temporary housing, he responded, and thus it — as with many of the items subject to reimbursement restrictions — will allow exceptions if approved by the department or unit administration. 

The committee also questioned whether a single-year commitment to the University was enough of a requirement for relocation help. But Graham said the policy-writing committee, in benchmarking against other universities, found only a single institution with even a two-year commitment required.

“The bottom line is: everything is allowed if the unit approves it,” noted committee member Pat Loughlin, Swanson School of Engineering faculty member.

Yes, said Graham — if the approval comes from high enough within the department or unit.

The Senate’s Benefits and Welfare Committee, at its Sept. 20 meeting, had requested several changes already to the policy, including language to make sure relocation expenses were offered equitably to all new or transferring employees in each department, unit or school.

Graham had assured that committee that the revised policy created no new restrictions — in fact a previous need for approval of moves on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays would be eased under the new policy.

Tom Songer, co-chair  of Faculty Affairs and a Pitt Public Health faculty member, noted that the policy should “move toward endorsement … but we want to propose it to the full committee.”

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


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