Senate Council meeting focuses on Tree of Life tragedy


The Nov. 7 Senate Council meeting was quick as Chancellor Pat Gallagher thanked the Pitt community for its response to the tragic mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue.

Gallagher said he was proud of the turnout at the Pitt: Stronger Than Hate rally.

“It was really inspiring, and I think the message was powerful that we have to both honor the victims of that attack and we’re not powerless if we hang together and work together,” Gallagher said.

In his report, he thanked first responders and Pitt faculty, staff and students for their support. He also listed several notable numbers he’s seen in the days since the shooting:

  • The Pitt Cares website, so far, has seen 9,153 page views, making it the fourth most popular site at Pitt.
  • More than 3,000 attended Pitt: Stronger than Hate
  • The Muslim American community raised $238,634 within three hours to help with the Tree of Life Synagogue mass shooting victims and their families.
  • More than 600 students attended the Shabbat dinner with the Shabbat House on campus. Usually, there are 130 students who do that every week, Gallagher said.
  • At least 30 messages from Pitt deans and department heads were sent out to their communities.
  • About 124 volunteers participated in Make a Difference Day.

In his report, Senate President Chris Bonneau summarized the Faculty Assembly meeting on Oct. 30, and spoke on the recent updates to policy from the National Science Foundation.

Faculty Assembly officers visited Pitt–Bradford on Oct. 25 and Bonneau met with Pitt–Greensburg representatives on Nov. 2. Bonneau said representatives discussed shared governance, student evaluations of teaching, student enrollments, perceptions of being ignored and more.

Bonneau also announced the date and topic for the Senate’s annual plenary — Free Speech in the Modern University, from noon to 3 p.m. March 27. The keynote speaker will be Sigal Ben-Porath, a professor in the Literacy, Culture, and International Education Division at the University of Pennsylvania. Her most recent book is “Free Speech on Campus.”

Staff Council President Andy Stephany also thanked Pitt faculty and staff for their response to the mass shooting and participants in the various brown bag events Staff Council has hosted.

He announced a brown bag for staff on how to help students in crisis, which took place on Nov. 13, and a brown bag on cyber security scheduled for Nov. 29.

Donovan Harrell is a writer for the University Times. Reach him at or 412-383-9905.