|1234 Cathedral of Learning
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260
University of Pittsburgh
President Cassing called the meeting to order at 3:03 PM.
The minutes of the Faculty Assembly meeting on September 3, 2002 were approved as corrected. (Revised minutes on file in the Senate Office.)
President Cassing asked for new items of business for the meeting. There were none.
Remarks of the President
President James Cassing announced that Nicholas G. Bircher had won the runoff election for vice president. He thanked Tom Metzger for his service as vice president and noted that he would continue as an active Senate member.
Professor Cassing reported that there have been about 600 responses to the survey on the planning and budgeting process that was sent out with the runoff ballot. Professor Holland added that there were also 66 written comments and that he hopes to report on the ad hoc committees evaluation of the Planning and Budgeting System in November.
Professor Cassing said that the Executive Committee of the Senate planned to meet with the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Dr. William Dietrich, in the near future.
There will be no October plenary session. There will be one in March. Professor Cassing asked for volunteers to work on the planning.
A mailing to 4700 faculty regarding the Senate and Faculty Assembly is about to be sent out.
Professor Cassing mentioned that the University Policy on Patents Rights and Technology Transfer was under review. When Professor Tobias said that the Tenure and Academic Freedom Committee had not seen it, Professor Cassing said that he would find out its status.
The Faculty Handbook in now on line as a pdf file. Vice Provost Blair said that an html version would also be on line shortly.
Professor Cassing reminded everyone that the Commonwealth Relations Committee invites state legislators to lunch every month. He encouraged members to attend these lunches. The next is October 11 with Rep. Nicholas Colafella from Beaver.
Reports by and Announcements of Special and Standing Committees of the Senate
Senate Committee for Elections Report
Professor Herbert Chesler, Chair, reported again that Professor Bircher had won the runoff election for vice president and Professor Lisa Brush won the runoff for Faculty Assembly from the Social Sciences.
Benefits and Welfare Committee
Professors Chesler and Holland reported that the University has asked four carriers to bid on our health insurance plan: UPMC, Aetna, HealthAmerica, and Highmark. The University asked for a proposal based on our current configuration and on a more innovative design. The University has a consulting firm, Mercer, which is advising it on health insurance. In a recent seminar, they mentioned increasing interest in consumer managed health care. In this kind of plan, money is given to an employee to manage health care costs up to a certain level. After that there would be catastrophic insurance provided, probably with some co-pays. There is likely to be a steep increase in the cost of health care insurance; the University is trying to contain these increases. For the last five years our health insurance has had caps on cost increases, but this is not likely in the future.
Questions and comments
Professor Wion asked if the bids were for a single provider. Professor Holland replied that bids were asked for both single and competitive.
Professor Chesler said UPMC reported that the portion of the premium paid by employees was about 13 percent of cost. He hoped it would stay at that level.
Professor Chesler said the issue of a lower premium for employees in a fitness program was raised several years ago. He has learned that Penn State has such an arrangement with HealthAmerica. Participants in a fitness program can get a reduction in their premiums of $150 a year.
Professor Chesler reminded the Faculty Assembly that their committee had expressed concern about the rapid termination of the email account of a deceased faculty member. He referred to an item in the report that the Computer Usage Committee will give later in the agenda. The account normally terminates two weeks after the payroll data is processed, but it can be extended for at least a year if such as request is given to the responsibility center account administrator. Benefits and Welfare is satisfied with this policy and the issue is off their agenda.
Questions and comments
Professor Bircher asked about the consumer management health plan. He said that private individuals pay ten times what a health plan pays.
Professor Munro asked what the purpose of the extension of email accounts for deceased faculty was. Professor Chesler said it may take more than two weeks for a spouse to close up the account. Professor Sereika said she would discuss this more in her report.
Joint Committee Follow-up Report on Tabled Motion and Other Updates for the Community Relations Committee and the Plant Utilization and Planning Committee
Professor Favorini reminded the Assembly that the committees had met jointly over the summer because of a common interest in the Mon-Fayette highway, Schenley Plaza changes, and assisted housing in the Oakland area. At the last Faculty Assembly meeting a resolution to ask the University to appoint a study team to study the potential effects of the highway was tabled. The committee chairs have had extensive conversations with members of the administration. The outcome will be a meeting with administration to discuss issues and to ensure that faculty interests are considered. For this reason, the joint committee is withdrawing the motion.
Computer Usage Committee
Professor Susan Sereika, Co-chair of the committee, said that she was providing an update on various computer-related issues and that she and Co-chair, Professor Irene Frieze, welcome comments and concerns.
The University provides 80 Mbs of bandwidth to faculty and staff but it is constantly exceeded. The main reason is the use of file-sharing software. Sometimes someone has hacked into a persons computer and that person does not even know it is going on. Sending copyrighted material is illegal.
The email issue for deceased faculty stems from the fact that two weeks is often not enough to reconcile email after a death. She repeated the report of Professor Chesler that accounts can be extended beyond two weeks by talking to the units account manager. Email can also be forwarded to another account for up to a year.
The CSSD provides a toolkit CD free to faculty as well as students. A copy can be picked up at any public computer lab.
The University provides a portal for students. One for faculty should be available by April.
If people have problems with computers, contact the CSSD technology help desk, which is available 24 hours a day.
Professor Sereika emphasized the importance of network security. It is easy to hack into a computer so that it can be used to transfer files. If you suspect your computer has been compromised, contact email@example.com. (Full report on file in the Senate Office.)
Questions and Comments
Professor Muenzer asked about DSL and Stargate. In particular, is the price of $50 a month for DSL a discount? The answer appears to be no.
Professor Jacobson asked for the source of the estimate that 99% of bandwidth is the use of peer-to-peer software. Professor Sereika said it was based on general information. Professor Jacobson also noted that many people might have an interest in the computer accounts of deceased faculty members including research partners and professors taking over a course. He also asked about the policy on maintenance of webservers. Webservers circumvent University security.
Professor Jannetta observed that many faculty do not know how to monitor security and noted that the History department had had a problem with a hacker. She asked how they could control copyright infringement when they do not know what is happening. Professor Costantino said the committee had asked the University to prepare materials for staff. Professor Sereika said that many units have technical staff to help.
Professor Knapp asked if there was any thought of surveying how satisfied users are with Stargate and its customer support. Professor Sereika said the committee could recommend such a survey.
Professor Munro said that Stargate does not support wireless networks at home. He asked if the University was looking into wireless networks. He was told that the University currently has them in the first floor of the Cathedral of Learning, in Hillman Library and in the Bio-Science building. You must have a card and right now use is limited.
Professor Friedman asked whether students were still using Napster. Student procedures prohibit them from using Napster. Professor Serieka said students have their own bandwith, but they have similar problems.
Professor Hershey asked if there could be a separate help line for telephone problems.
Professor Muenzer said that the technology gets more and more complex and his department has no technical support. He asked if there were some resources for those who are technologically challenged. Professor Sereika said she would convey his concerns to CSSD. Professor Bircher noted that the Medical School gives you two choiceseither a basic product that is supported by the School or whatever you want but you maintain it yourself. He argued that most faculty cannot do that and should not be expected to do it. Professor Jacobson said there is an ongoing debate on whether the University or the department should pay for computers and support. Right now we are in the part of the cycle where the unit pays the costs. Perhaps it is time to review the issue again.
There was no new business.
Ms. Rougeux announced the dedication of the librarys new storage facilities on Thomas Blvd. on October 2 and invited everyone to attend.
President Cassing announced the Senate Council Meeting on Monday, October 7 and the next Faculty Assembly meeting on Tuesday, November 5.
The meeting was adjourned at 4:00 PM.
Josephine E. Olson, Secretary
|Home | Top of Page||Elections | Plenary Sessions | Ad Hoc Committees | Updates | Special Reports|