Robin Kear first librarian elected as Senate president


When her second term as Senate vice president ended in June 2019, Robin Kear said she needed a break after nearly 10 years in shared governance.

Just two years later, she’ll be coming back to the Senate as its president. Kear, a liaison librarian in Research and Educational Support, won the presidential contest against current vice president, David Salcido. She is the first librarian to be elected president, and she’ll take office July 1. See more about her views in a Q&A in the March 27 University Times.

“I am humbled and excited by the opportunity to lead the University Senate,” Kear said. “I look forward to discussion and collaboration on the many important issues that we are facing. My promise is to work hard, listen, and always do my very best for all faculty, staff and students.”

Frank Wilson, who headed the Election committee, told Senate Council on April 22 that more than 1,400 people — “the biggest turnout in a Senate election that we can recall,” he said. Around 31 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot, which was a 281 percent increase over last year's election, Wilson reported.

The winner for vice president is still up in the air. None of the three candidates — Kristin Kanthak, a political science associate professor; Melanie Scott, associate professor of surgery; and Geoffrey L. Wood, associate professor of sociology at Pitt-Greensburg — received more than 50 percent of the votes. The Senate bylaws say if no candidate receives a majority of the total votes cast, a runoff will be held between the two candidates with the most votes. Kanthak and Scott were the top vote-getters in the initial election. A runoff is already underway; voting ends on May 6.

The bylaws also state: “In case of a tie in the runoff elections, the position shall be filled by drawing lots.”

The new president and vice president will be the first to serve two-year terms, instead of one year. Senate Council voted to extend the terms and allow for two consecutive terms at its March meeting.

Gosia Forte, the Senate secretary and head of Digital Resource Development in the Health Sciences Library System, faced no opposition in the election. She will serve a one-year term and face re-election in 2022 for a new two-year term. Senate Council decided to stagger the terms of the officers to provide continuity.

This will be only the second time that all three top positions will be held by women, whoever wins the runoff, Wilson said.

Chris Bonneau, who has served a Senate president since 2018, will move into the role of immediate past president. Frank Wilson has been in that position after he served as president from 2015-18.

The elections for Senate committees run from April 23 to May 5. 

Faculty Assembly elections

Several open positions also were filled on Faculty Assembly. The positions are elected by school to have wide representation on the assembly. Each member serves a three-year term.

Arts & Sciences

Humanities: Dana Khoi Nguyen

Natural Sciences: Candice Damiani, Zuzana Swigonova

Social Sciences: Elizabeth Archibald, Yolanda Covington-Ward

Professional schools

Business: Ray Jones

Education: M. Najeeb Shafiq

Engineering: Arash Mahboobin

Public & International Affairs: Michael Lewin

Computing and Information Systems: Matthew Burton       

Social Work: Alicia Melnick

University Library System: Megan Massanelli

Health Sciences

Medicine: Gary Kohanbash, Doug Reed, Dana Tudorascu

Public Health: Tom Songer

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


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