University of Pittsburgh
Faculty Assembly Meeting
April 1, 2003
1. President Cassing called the meeting to order at 3:05 PM.
2. The minutes of the Faculty Assembly meeting of February 25, 2003 were
approved as written.
3. President Cassing asked for new items of business for the meeting.
Professor Jacobson said he had a motion and another item for discussion.
4. Remarks of the President, James Cassing.
· Ballots to elect Senate officers and members of Faculty Assembly
have been mailed to all members of the University Senate. Everyone should
receive a ballot by the end of the week. The deadline for returning the
ballots is April 21. Ballots to elect members of Standing Committees will
be mailed to Faculty Assembly members later this week.
· Professor Wion presented the Recommendations for Amending the
Planning and Budgeting System Document to members of Senate Council at
the March 10 meeting. Members of the Senate Council endorsed the recommendations.
Once the Chancellor gives final approval, the revised document will be
posted on the University’s website.
· The Resolution on Salary Increase approved by the Faculty Assembly
last month was sent to the Chairman of the Board, Dr. Dietrich, on March
· The speakers at the March 19 Plenary Session presented a broad
and interesting range of views about health care benefits. The panelists,
Professors Bircher, Hershey and MacLeod, had a lively discussion and there
was a good audience. Professor Cassing noted that plenary sessions are
a way of raising issues at the university.
· Professor Cassing mentioned that there is now a listserv for
Senate presidents at the various AAU universities. This will allow Senate
presidents and other officers to communicate with each other. It could
be very useful.
· The expedited faculty grievance proposal was discussed by members
of the Tenure and Academic Freedom Committee (TAFC) at their March 11
meeting. President Cassing asked Professor Pinsky to report on it. Professor
Pinsky said that TAFC did not support the idea of having an expedited
process with a provost-appointed person running it, because it counters
the idea of a “grievance committee.” The real problem is the
delay in the grievance process. The committee has three recommendations:
1) that the Provost support the three-month limit; 2) that the Provost
send committee members letters reminding them of the deadline; and 3)
that the Provost remind schools of the process to be followed.
Questions and Answers
Professor Hershey asked what TAFC planned to do. Professor Pinsky said
that after Faculty Assembly discussion, TAFC will go to the Provost to
discuss these recommendations. Before, the Provost’s Office has
had too much of a “hands off” view. There is no active case
right now, which makes dealing with the issue simpler. After some more
discussion, it was agreed that Professor Pinsky would bring a letter from
TAFC to the next Faculty Assembly meeting for its review. Professor Brush
asked that the letter be sent with the agenda. Professor Pinsky responded
that he would email a copy to Ms. Czak who would then forward it on to
members of Faculty Assembly.
5. Reports by and Announcements of Special and Standing Committees
of the Senate
Community Relations Committee, Professor Tracy Soska, Chair
· Professor Soska said the committee wanted to give a follow-up
report since the Plenary Session in spring 2001 on “The University
in Civic Engagement: Service in the University Mission.” Four priorities
came from the Senate Plenary Report: A) Improve campus dialog on and coordination
of community service; B) Enhance discussion/inquiry linking service in
teaching and research; C) Recognize and reward service scholarship and
civic engagement; and D) Enhance service learning opportunities for students.
· Professor Soska asked Dr. John Wilds to report on the Community
Outreach Service Database and Web Survey. Dr. Wilds said the Provost has
asked the deans to ask their faculty to post their research and community
service on an online database survey developed by the University Center
for Social and Urban Research. Faculty and Administration will be able
to access this database to see what kind of community service is going
on. It can be used to inform the state legislature on research and service
going on at Pitt, as well as helping the community access resources and
expertise at Pitt. Professor Soska added that it is web-based and easy
to update. He mentioned the development of a Nonprofit Technical Assistance
Network developing across disciplines at the university and that the database
might also capture this community service area.
· Professor Soska reported that CIDDE is strongly supporting service
learning, and they have sponsored a number of workshops on the topic.
Teaching Times also had an issue on service learning. Some Provost Innovations
in Teaching awards went to service learning projects. CIDDE’s Board
of Advisors is very interested in service learning.
· Pitt has a grant from HUD for a Community Outreach Partnership
Center (COPC) now in its third and final year. The University is trying
to institutionalize this initiative as a “center for civic engagement”,
and Pitt’s efforts to institutionalize its COPC was featured in
a recent HUD publication.
· The committee wants to explore the idea of an employee-assisted
housing program for Oak Hill, Central and South Oakland, and Hazelwood.
A new survey will be coming out shortly to survey Pitt and UPMC employees
about interest in living where they work. Developing the homeowner versus
the renter base in these neighborhoods is an important neighborhood revitalization
strategy. Soska noted that the Oakland community groups are very supportive
of the announced new on-campus student housing in hopes of lowering the
student rental density in Oakland.
· The committee is looking into the idea of a Community Portal
on Pitt’s website. This would allow the university to have more
communications with the community and make the campus community more a
part of the surrounding neighborhood. Issues such as local shopping and
business needs, as well as community activities can be exchanged through
· Students live in Oakland neighborhoods, including the new Oak
Hill community, but they do not act as part of the community. The committee
wants to get students more involved in their communities. One possibility
is extending President Bush’s proposal to focus Work Study programs
on community service internships through community organizations. Faculty
will be needed to mentor students in community service and internships.
Absentee landlord issues are still a problem in Oakland. Students did
a study on Pier Street and absentee landlords. Residents and students
working with the Oakland Community Council took absentee landlords to
court to force them to maintain their property and won. The committee
hopes to plan another Oakland cleanup furniture in the fall when students
return, as was done in 2001; last fall was a real disaster with furniture
and trash throughout Oakland.
· The committee would like to have another plenary session in 2004
to celebrate service and build the dialogue in the area of “outreach
scholarship” – integrating service with teaching and research
through interdisciplinary scholarship and applied research. Making Pitt
a place that recognizes and rewards this “scholarship” as
we develop our university reputation in this growing field would be a
· Professor Maureen Porter (School of Education) and Eric Hartman
(Outreach Coordinator) along with Michael Sandy (Center Director) presented
a slide show on the Amizade Global Service Learning Center. The presentation
underscored the four key recommendations of the aforementioned Senate
Plenary report and demonstrated how the Global Service Center in exemplifying
service learning that integrates service with teaching and research, as
well as in promoting multi-cultural experiences and global learning opportunities
for students in ways that enhance learning and leadership. As the presenters
noted, Pitt has become one of the leading Research I Universities in terms
of programming and scholarship in service learning from a global perspective.
Professor Porter and Mr. Hartman stressed the resources of the Global
Service-Learning Center to help faculty develop and modify courses for
service learning in the international arena. They were concerned that
student interest is outstripping faculty involvement in this effort, and
faculty involvement was strongly encouraged. They also presented a long
list of service learning classes across many academic disciplines that
are being conducted in nearly a dozen countries in 2003.
Questions and Answers
Professor Root said that he was delighted to hear about the Center and
asked if it had connections to the Study Abroad and Global Studies Programs.
Professor Porter said that many students are in the Global Studies Certificate
Program due to service learning offered by the Center, and Mr. Sandy said
they have links to UCIS, CAS, and Student Affairs and the Study Abroad
Professor Cassing thanked Professor Soska and the others for their report.
Anti-discriminatory Policies Committee, Professor Richard Tobias,
Professor Tobias said he would like to introduce another motion to ask
the university to provide health care benefits to same sex couples, but
he wanted to get some sense from the Faculty Assembly that it supported
the idea of a new motion. He noted that Temple and Penn State have now
found some ways of offering health benefits to same sex couples, but there
is still discrimination. He asked the University to take the lead on this
issue. It is unconscionable that getting health benefits depends on ones
Questions and Answers
Professor Meisel asked what the view of the new governor is. Professor
Tobias said that the university administration always says the problem
is the legislature. He said they have contacted other state-related universities
about what we could do, without much response. There is anecdotal evidence
that we are losing faculty because of our policy, but one cannot prove
it. He noted that it is primarily a women’s issue, since a partner
may be taking care of children.
Professor Friedman asked Professor Tobias to review the history of resolutions
on the issue. Professor Tobias said he thought there had been resolutions
since 1998 and one resolution was even passed by the Senate Council. The
original issue came up in 1996 when the Law School wanted to keep a faculty
member. Professor Hershey said that even if the university were to start
giving health benefits to same sex couples, the law suit against it might
not be dropped.
Professor Balaban suggested that the Faculty Assembly try to develop concrete
measure to get to the legislature.
Professor Pinsky suggested trying to get all the state universities together
collectively on the issue.
Professor Frieze said that another resolution from Faculty Assembly could
complement these other efforts.
Professor Wion suggested a joint effort of the Anti-discriminatory Policies
Committee and the Commonwealth Relations to develop a dialog with the
Professor Root suggested that it is sometimes better to create something
and let the legislature react. Often an issue loses political heat. He
hoped that Faculty Assembly could do something creative rather than relying
on the administration to react.
Professor Hershey said the Penn State solution does not go to the heart
of the suit, which is that the university should provide benefits. It
is not the faculty but the university’s government relations staff
that should be lobbying the legislature, but it is not a high priority
for them. He noted that the advantage of the resolution is that it shows
there is continued faculty interest, but the prospect for action is practically
nil. He asked whether there is a state gay and lesbian organization that
might have some advice on how to proceed.
Professor Meisel, responding to an earlier comment of Professor Pinsky,
said it should be the state universities, not their faculties, that work
together. Professor Tobias mentioned that these schools are unionized
and same-sex benefits are not a union issue. Professor Wion countered
that it was the part-time faculty union that brought the issue to Temple.
Professor Balaban argued that every time we pass a meaningless resolution,
it makes us look silly. Professor Meisel replied that we need to remind
the university that we have not forgotten.
Professor Jacobson asked what was the response to the Faculty Assembly’s
earlier motion asking that part of the University’s brief in its
same-sex benefits case be withdrawn. Professor Tobias answered that it
will not be withdrawn.
Professor Brush said such a motion is not just a “feel good resolution.”
It would make those struggling for this benefit feel they have support.
Professor Meisel said one should not support the motion to feel good,
but because it is the right thing to do.
Professor Tobias then read the motion:
The Senate Committee on Anti-Discriminatory Policies moves that the Faculty
Assembly again urge the administration to grant health benefits to domestic
Questions and Answers (Continued)
Professor Hershey asked if this would include heterosexual partnerships
and noted that this would be more expensive. Professor Wion said the Staff
Advisory Council is interested in including heterosexual partners. They
believe it is the right thing to do, even if it is more expensive. Professor
Tobias said that the University of Pennsylvania offers these benefits
and it has found the additional cost to be statistically insignificant.
He added that if a
heterosexual couple claims health benefits, they will be considered “married”
under Pennsylvania law.
The motion was approved with no negative votes and one abstention.
6. New Business
Professor Jacobson introduced the following motion, which
was seconded by Professor Hershey:
Faculty Assembly requests that the Senate Plant Utilization and
Planning Committee work with appropriate University administrators to
ensure that each building that contains research and/or instructional
laboratories has assigned to it a uniquely dedicated Building Engineer
to protect the safety and health of faculty, staff and students and the
integrity of the research enterprise. Assembly asks that Plant Utilization
and Planning and/or an appropriate member of Administration report to
Assembly and/or Senate Council on this subject at the May meeting(s).
Professor Jacobson explained that previously each building had a permanent
building engineer assigned to it. Now there is a pool of four engineers
covering 28 buildings, some of them as far away as Penn Hills. He argued
that buildings with labs are different as they have gas lines, purified
water, special electrical lines, constant temperature requirements, hazardous
materials, and the like. Temperature changes could affect research. The
equipment is not standardized and a permanent engineer gets familiar with
it. A pool will limit knowledge of the equipment and reduce preventive
maintenance. He explained that he was bringing this issue to Faculty Assembly
because other avenues have not been successful.
Questions and Answers
Professor Hershey asked what other routes had been taken to address this
problem. Professor Jacobson said that their facilities manager had taken
it to the FAS dean. It is a safety issue and a resolution cannot be delayed.
Professor Friedman asked why the change had been made. She noted that
the library has a dedicated engineer who is good at fixing problems. She
wondered if a pool could provide that kind of service. Professor Kuller
observed that there is a problem of animal welfare in a number of buildings.
Professor Bircher spoke in favor of the resolution. He is familiar with
the difference between dedicated workers versus a tag-team approach. People
need to know the facility and what to do.
The resolution was passed unanimously.
The second issue Professor Jacobson brought up was the poor quality of
campus mail. A number of people agreed that the campus mail is of such
poor quality that most departments have work-study or other employees
to hand carry important mail. Professor Jacobson said it would be useful
to have a method of transmitting documents via email. Professor Cassing
promised to look into the issue.
Professor Soska announced that the annual Rubash Distinguished Lecture
and Panel Discussion cosponsored by the Schools of Social Work and Law
would be held on Wednesday, April 2, at noon. It is titled “The
Substance Abuser: Client or Criminal?”
President Cassing announced that the next Senate Council meeting will
April 7. The Chancellor will be away but the Provost will be at the meeting.
The meeting was adjourned at 4:35 PM.
Josephine E. Olson, Secretary