University of Pittsburgh
Faculty Assembly Meeting
Revised Minutes of January 28, 2003
1. President Cassing called the meeting to order at 3:06 PM.
2. The minutes of the Faculty Assembly meeting of November 26, 2002 were
approved as written.
3. President Cassing asked for new items of business for the meeting.
· Immediate past president Hershey asked to bring up an issue on
· Professor Tobias asked to bring up a resolution regarding the
University’s brief on same sex benefits.
· Professor Baker asked to present a resolution against the Board
of Trustees for the large compensation increases given to the senior management
of the University.
4. Remarks of the President, James Cassing.
· A report on changes in the Faculty Handbook can be obtained from
the Senate Office. Vice Provost Blair said that the new Faculty Handbook
is on the University’s website as a pdf file and he agreed to send
an email copy of the report on changes so that it could be distributed
to Faculty Assembly members.
· The Senate website is up and getting better. Professor Hershey
recommended that the URL for the website be shown on Senate stationary.
· The Senate Nominations Committee held its first meeting last
week. Professor Cassing asked Faculty Assembly members to encourage their
colleagues to run for office and offer to serve on committees. He suggested
contacting the chair, Herb Chesler, or members of the Executive Committee.
· The ballot to amend the bylaws went out on January 15. A 15%
response rate is needed by January 31.
· The spring plenary session will be held on Wednesday, March 19
at 2 PM in the Assembly Room of the William Pitt Union. The topic is:
“University Health Benefits: How Will Pitt Meet the Challenge?”
The keynote speaker is Sherman Folland, a health economist at Oakland
· Professor Cassing asked Professor Wion, Chair of the Senate Budget
Policies Committee, to report on the committee’s response to the
recommendations of the Ad Hoc Planning and Budgeting System Evaluation
Committee. Professor Wion said his committee is trying to integrate the
recommendations. He has prepared a draft of amendments to the PBS document.
The committee will meet again Friday. Administration liaisons are participating
in the discussion as well as staff and student representatives. The committee
hopes to bring a document to the February 25 Faculty Assembly meeting
and have a recommendation to the Chancellor by the end of the term. Professor
Cassing asked how the proposal would be brought to the Senate and Professor
Wion replied that a motion would be presented to Faculty Assembly in advance
with a cover letter. If there are issues or alternatives Faculty Assembly
will either amend them or send them back to the committee.
· Professor Cassing said he had received an email about the University’s
conflict of interest policy and wondered if Faculty Assembly had a responsibility
for it and whether it was an issue. Professor Hershey said that someone
had told him that very few issues reach the committee because deans usually
handle them. He suggested that Vice Provost Blair report on how deans
handle conflict of issues cases. He also said that the Senate has a role
in recommending members for the Conflict of Interest Committee.
· Professor Cassing reported on a movement to get faculty involved
in issues of intercollegiate athletics. It started with PAC10 member Oregon,
when the university was building a new stadium. It led to the formation
of a group of faculty and administration and it spread to other colleges.
Professor Cassing was asked if he was interested in the issues. The latest
thrust now includes boards of trustees. The first step will be a conference
at Indiana University. The Big East representative will be from Syracuse.
The Senate Athletic Committee needs to be involved.
· Professor Cassing has received emails from the Staff Association
Council regarding salary increases for senior administration and they
plan to bring a recommendation to Senate Council.
· Professor Cassing asked Vice Provost Blair for a report on evaluation
of chairs and deans. Dr. Blair said that the evaluation of department
chairs in the School of Education took place in December and after a review
it will roll out for other department chairs in the spring.
5. Reports by and Announcements of Special and Standing Committees of
There were none.
6. New Business
· Professor Hershey informed the Faculty Assembly of a resolution
of the Planning and Budget Policies Committee of the Graduate School of
Public Health. It stated: “We believe that increases in the cost
of health insurance for the next university budget should be allocated
between the university and employees, to avoid any increase in cost to
faculty and staff, particularly because of the impact of such increase
on lower income employees. . .We urge that, if necessary to hold the line
on employees’ portion of health insurance costs, a portion of the
funds usually placed into the salary pool for annual increments be used
to accomplish this result.” Professor Hershey brought up the resolution
to raise the question of how university issues should be dealt with by
the school budget policies committees. He also presented some calculations
on the benefits in terms of tax avoidance to employees and the university
of putting more of the compensation pool in benefits rather than salaries.
He indicated three ways a 25% increase in health insurance costs could
be allocated. His assumption was a current cost of $32 million with employees’
share being 15.6%. If the cost goes up by an additional $8 million, the
possibilities include: 1) employees pay the same absolute amount as now;
2) employees pay the same percentage share as now; and 3) employees pick
up the entire increase. He argued that schools’ budget policy committees
should discuss this issue.
Questions and Answers
Professor Jacobson observed that if a substantial fraction of the compensation
pool were allocated to health insurance, then salary increases would fall
further behind and there would be a compounding effect on salary over
time. He argued that faculty candidates look at salary rather than total
compensation. Professor Hershey said he was only recommending it for this
year, not always.
Professor Muenzer mentioned that some of the tax issues Professor Hershey
listed could be avoided by larger contributions to TIAA/CREF.
Professor Wion said that the Senate Budget Policies committee would be
looking at this allocation issue and he was sure that Benefits and Welfare
would be doing so also. The health insurance increase is going to be very
big and it will affect other benefits. The trade-offs affect different
people differently and decisions have to be made for options and allocation
Professor Jacobson said that the increase in health insurance costs could
be greater than last year’s 3.5% increase in the salary pool. Professor
Wion replied that the tradeoffs include other forms of investment the
university has been making. He also noted that last year the University
put $6 million into one-time expenditures rather than into continuing
expenditures. This year that $6 million could be allocated to continuing
Professor Hershey noted that salary increases and retirement contributions
are on a percentage basis. People with low incomes do better when there
are flat increases while highly paid people do better with percentage
increases. He has met low-income Pitt employees who have second jobs and
who cannot afford to buy Pitt’s current health insurance. Professor
Wion followed up by noting that of the 3.5% increase in the salary pool,
1% was kept for market conditions and went to better paid faculty and
staff. The University has been trying to retain its most mobile faculty
with higher increases. Having done that for several years, the administration
might find that this is a good year to focus on poorly paid staff most
affected by the increased cost of health insurance.
Professor Cassing noted that there were two debates, one on the provider
and the other on cost allocation.
Professor Chesler said the designs for the new plan are still uncertain.
The Medical Advisory Committee includes representatives from Benefits
and Welfare, the Staff Advisory Committee, Human Resources and consultants.
There have been three meetings and the costs of maintaining the present
plan have been shown to be very substantial. One way to keep costs down
is to change the plan design. For example, he is quite sure that the comprehensive
plan will be eliminated. Other options will vanish as well. He is sure
there will be an increase in co-payments and prescriptions. He said that
committee members emphasized to the administration that employees want
choices. Because of the need for secrecy, the overall role of the Benefits
and Welfare Committee has been marginalized. However, it still has the
role of recommending how costs should be shared. The committee hopes to
make a recommendation at its Friday meeting. He reminded the Faculty Assembly
that six years ago the administration developed the concept of core coverage
(it would cover the lowest cost individual plan) without consulting Benefits
and Welfare. He hopes that the administration will not make a unilateral
decision this year. In response to a question, Professor Chesler said
that UPMC has lost a lot on our plan; its projections were way off. One
of the issues is whether Pitt will self insure or not. Both Professors
Hershey and Bircher noted that insurance payments do not always reflect
Professor Wion said the Senate Council and the Executive Committee need
to convey to the administration the importance of involving governance
group in the decision regarding the balance of salaries and benefits.
· Professor Tobias said that the Anti-Discrimination Policies
Committee met in the morning and read the University’s brief on
the Same-Sex Benefits Case. Based on their reading, he introduced the
following resolution for the committee:
Resolved: Faculty Assembly asks the Administration
to instruct university attorneys to withdraw the part of the brief, pp.
21-24, that attacks the validity of the Human Rights Ordinance of 1990.
This Resolution applies only to these pages and not to the brief as a
Professor Tobias said that the committee thinks it is not wise to attack
a city resolution granting protection to same-sex partners when university
policy grants these people protection. In effect, should the university
succeed, we have denied our own resolution and policy.
Questions and Answers
Professor Bircher asked why University Counsel thinks this has legal merit.
Professor Buchele said their argument is that the 1999 amendment to the
Ordinance exceeds home rule rights. It was later explained that this is
because the State’s anti-discrimination policy does not refer to
same sex partners. This argument is different from others in the brief
that argue that the university did not violate the Ordinance. The committee
thinks it is inappropriate for the university to attack civil rights laws.
Professor Jacobson asked about the time frame for the case because he
thought it would be better to wait until we have more information. Professor
Buchele replied that the brief was filed in November and a response was
filed a week ago. However, he did not know when the next step would take
Professor Chesler described the brief as “mean-spirited” and
asked why the University was doing this. Professor Buchele said lawyers
present all possible arguments, but it is up to the client to decide which
Professor Muenzer said he hoped that this resolution would not lead to
the impression that Faculty Assembly supported the rest of the brief.
Professor Jacobson suggested that the Administration be asked why it included
this argument in the brief at the next Senate Council meeting. Others
suggested it might better be done in private at the Executive Committee
Professor Wion asked that the brief be sent to all Faculty Assembly members
before the Senate Council meeting and it was agreed that that would be
Professor Tobias asked that the Faculty Assembly make a decision on the
resolution. There was some discussion of changes in wording, but Professor
Tobias did not accept any.
Professor Root said he is sympathetic to the resolution but would like
more information before a vote. He would like to have the brief distributed
and have a discussion about it at Senate Council. Professor Wion said
that the Faculty Assembly has put on record its opposition to the University’s
position on this case and voting for this resolution is similar to other
votes. Professor Cain argued that no court decision is likely to be made
in a month and the vote can be delayed.
The resolution passed with a vote of 14 for, two against and
Professor Tobias asked if the issue would go to the Senate Council and
President Cassing replied that he would mention it in his report. Professor
Belle argued that he would still like to see the brief and other materials
and hoped they would be distributed.
· Professor Baker introduced the following resolution:
Faculty Assembly censures the University of Pittsburgh’s Board
of Trustees for its insensitivity and lack of concern regarding the negative
impact it created on campus and in the community by awarding disproportionately
large pay raises and bonuses to top administrators in the wake of severe
campus budgetary problems which necessitated a large 14% increase in tuition
for students and a mere 3.5% raise in the faculty and staff compensation
Professor Baker said that the Chancellor has done a good job. However,
he questioned some of the information in the media about the need for
such large increases. An article in the Chronicle a couple of years ago
reported that the Chancellor’s salary was 23rd out of 131
before his raise it was 7th out of 131 after his raise.
He questioned other salary information used by Board members to justify
their decision. A November issue of the Chronicle had an article by Derek
Bok on the dangers of large salaries for top managers. This has been a
bad year for everyone but top managers. Professor Cassing said the motion
needed a second and Professor Root seconded it.
Questions and Answers
Professor Wion expressed concern with the use of “censure”
in this case. He thought the Board made a mistake but not an egregious
one. There was discussion about where the Board got their salary figures
and whether they were correct. There was also some discussion on whether
the Chancellor had requested that the Board not give such large increases.
Professor Cassing said he felt uneasy about the resolution because he
was not sure what the faculty wanted to do.
Professor Hershey offered the following friendly amendment,
which Professor Baker accepted.
Faculty Assembly recommends that University of Pittsburgh’s
Board of Trustees give greater heed in the future to the Chancellor’s
concern, as reported in the media, about the very large compensation increases
and bonuses to himself and other top University officers in a time of
severe campus budgetary problems which necessitated a 14% increase in
tuition for students and a mere 3.5% raise in the faculty and staff compensation
There was further discussion regarding the resolution and the Board’s
decision. Professor Muenzer commented that the only way his faculty can
get a raise is to bring in an offer from another school; there is no retention
Professor Metzger said the Chancellor’s salary was benchmarked but
not the faculty’s. Professor Wion said we do benchmark faculty salaries
but we don’t usually meet them. The administration holds back one
percent of the salary pool increases to address market issues.
Professor Chesler introduced a motion to table the resolution
until the next Faculty Assembly meeting. His motion passed with seven
in favor, six against and two abstentions.
The meeting was adjourned at 5:10 PM.
Josephine E. Olson, Secretary