Tobacco policy ad hoc committee and resolution on IT decisions pass Senate Council


The Senate Council passed two resolutions last week that came from two relatively contentious debates in Senate committees.

Smoking policy

The Benefits and Welfare Committee recommended the University set up an ad hoc committee in response to a proposed smoke and tobacco-free campus policy. Previously, the committee had objected to a stricter smoke-free campus policy.

Committee chair Linda Tashbook summed up the recommendation through rhyming verse:

“An ad hoc committee on tobacco smoke
should study our policy and see where it’s broke;

and look at the resources on cessation and support,
consider effectiveness and write a report.

If we need a new policy or an old one should change,
the means of enforcement, we need to arrange.

Then this ad hoc committee should state it all there
and we’ll review the report at benefits and welfare.

Maybe the campus can be tobacco-free,
or else maybe not; the committee will see.

With broader perspectives and more concrete facts
and a problem statement, we’ll know how to act.”

Faculty Assembly had previously approved the committee’s recommendation, which includes reviewing the University’s efforts to educate faculty and staff about healthy choices related to tobacco and look at the resources available to help people stop smoking. The ad hoc committee also will study ways to enforces the current policy.

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher will form the ad hoc committee, which should include smokers and non-smokers from the staff, faculty and student communities. The committee will then report back to the chancellor and the Benefits and Welfare Committee about any proposed changes to current policy.

“I want to applaud the positivity in the direction; that this is not so much about what we’re banning but about supporting the health of everyone on our campus,” Gallagher said.

Information technology

In response to a recent assessment of Pitt’s information technology systems, the Senate Computing and Information Technology Committee proposed a resolution stressing shared governance in any IT decision making.

The report by consultant company Deloitte stressed that Pitt implement better IT governance — that the University “builds a coordinated model that allows the right people to make business, IT and financial decisions around IT projects, standards and priorities.”

Frank Wilson, who was representing the committee, said, “The consultants didn’t seem to have a full understanding of our shared governance procedures. ... And so they had made recommendations about governance changes, and we’re just asking that that the Senate and its appropriate committees be part of that in a way that (the consultant’s) recommendation did not include.”

The resolution, which was previously approved by Faculty Assembly, calls for the University to consult with the committee, the Senate executive committee and Faculty Assembly “on the most effective and efficient way to connect the existing Senate Standing Committees with the new structures that are being considered for governance of information technology.”

Chancellor Gallagher said he was in support of the resolution because “it’s in the spirit of a reminder to make sure the shared governance is developed in.”

He pointed out the Deloitte’s report just an assessment and recommendation for best practices, but not fully developed information technology plan for the University.

“It is our full intent that this be done in a way that’s completely consistent with shared governance. And I think the most honest thing I can say is we still have to figure out what that governance structure is. IT touches all of us, so this is why this was deemed to be important,” Gallagher said.

With the impending retirement of Jinx Walton, the University’s chief information officer, Gallagher said that no new IT governance plan would be developed under an acting CIO.

“My immediate focus is to make sure that the roles and responsibilities of the CIO are clearly identified right now. If that’s not the case, we can’t even hire somebody,” Gallagher said. “But the next CIO will be the person we work with on, how do we make sure that this shared infrastructure that we all depend on is supported by a governance model that provides input from all the stakeholders.”

Other items

  • Chancellor Gallagher said that budget season will begin soon at the state and University level. Gov. Tom Wolf, who was sworn in for his second term last week, is set to announce his proposed budget to the General Assembly on Feb. 5. “Obviously there will be more uncertainty this year, because of the election and the turnover, there is still a structural deficit, but revenues are up. So everyone is trying to read the tea leaves and see what kind of year we’re looking at.”
  • Senate President Chris Bonneau said that in response to the death of a student in December in Lothrop Hall, two Senate committees — Educational Policies and Student Admissions, Aid and Affairs — will be discussing ways in which faculty can “indicate to students that we can be a resource for them in times of trouble.”
  • Staff Council President Andy Stephany said the group’s next brown bag event, “Embracing the World at Pitt,” will be at noon Jan. 29 at the William Pitt Union. Belkys Torres, director of the University Center for International Studies, will present resources available to help staff build a welcoming environment for international populations on campus.

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at or 412-648-4294.