December 2020 Minutes

December 3rd 10 AM

Absent Representatives:

Benefits & Welfare, Sowmya

Tenure & Academic Freedom, Chloe

Research, Amanda (no updates from this committee)

Library, Seungil

Present Representatives:

Bylaws & Procedures, Sushobhan

No meeting this month.

Budget Policies, Jenny

  1. COVID-related University Budget Update: The University is requesting (has not received) FEMA funds in addition to CARES act funds we already received. Units were notified from the beginning that COVID-related costs must be documented and to be reimbursed upon review and approval. Each fund has different rules for eligible reimbursements; for example, FEMA will not reimburse lost revenue.
  2. Mark Burdsall (HR) presenting on Shaping the Workplace project (i.e. staff performance reviews and salary benchmarking project):

Performance Reviews

As of last year, performance reviews were decentralized (HR does not receive any of this). This year, compliance with every employee receiving a performance review was mandated and an audit was conducted. 95% compliance achieved; 146 people have not received theirs. Many are working in COVID-related areas (e.g. Center for Vaccine Research). Diversity Equity and Inclusion criteria are being added to performance reviews.

Committee recommendations:

(i) granularity in the performance review that allows the reviewer to include additional criteria moving forward. The goal for HR is to have specific criteria for different job positions (e.g. research technician)

(ii) 360 reviews (staff can evaluate their supervisor at the time of performance eval). Challenges include a desire on the staff side for their feedback to be anonymous. The goal is to roll this out with high compliance, so these details need to be worked out prior to implementation.

Job groupings

Pitt’s system of employee classification has been the same since the 90s. Looking to regroup staff job positions for a better benchmarking process. This will make it easier to assess equity across the university/schools/departments.

This project has 6 phases: Job Analysis, Job Organization, Market Assessment, Subject Matter Expert Validation (currently here; timeline to completion is mid-Nov), Career Framework, and Salary Structure.

Research was one of the most complex groupings.

Anticipated completion for early approval process to begin is Jan/Feb. The university will then decide on the path forward. Ultimately the university will work with a consulting firm (Segal consulting) to perform benchmarking, which is largely automatic. Benchmarking will be a combination of local/regional positions.

Community Relations, Mariarosaria

Originally planned on sharing diversity initiatives across communities

Discussion on Microsoft teams for sharing information/ideas.

Discussion on linking the Oakland community and the University via Pittwire by 2021.

Computing & IT, Doug

Working on setting up remote options for non-traditional learning (e.g. art or lab-based classrooms)

Box migration to One Drive – there are > 22mil users to migrate by June

Targeting heaviest users first.

Other options still exist on a case by case basis (Google Drive, continued Box)

DuoMobile timeout extended from 8h to 12h (working on 24h)

There are concerns over data privacy; Pitt IT claims to not have the resources or intention to spy

Communication with end-users is lacking.

Educational Policies, Tenzin

Grading policy: adding a transcript notation for students along the lines of “this grade is not reflective of student’s typical work.”

Approving late withdrawals; not usually allowed without Dean’s approval but want to be flexible.

Equity, Inclusion & Anti-discrimination Advocacy (EIADAC), Danny

Black study course for undergraduate students has been approved.

LGBT+ taskforce is being implemented.

White paper about race and the fallout on the university – how much should freedom of speech be permitted on campus when it hurts others?

Non-discrimination policy does not cover ethnicity, so this policy does not cover latinos and often their concerns are not addressed. A recent draft now includes this.

Title IX mandates: faculty does not want to be listed as a mandated reporters and claim that students do not want this, but students contradicted this and now faculty are listed as mandated reporters.

Non-tenure stream Ad Hoc Committee, Lyuqin

This committee has been retired and its duties absorbed by the Faculty Affairs committee.

Student Admissions, Aid & Affairs, Dave

The committee discussed different programs on the undergraduate and graduate level for building diversity and inclusion across campus/schools/departments. Student reps are presenting their views to the committee next month.

Plant Utilization & Planning, Bruce

Pitt’s climate action plan (Pitt CAP): Ensure economic resilience while making Pitt carbon-neutral within the next decade by reducing reliance on fossil fuels. Currently investigating options for alternative energy sources. During COVID, increased HVAC usage has increased carbon emissions while reduced transit to campus offsets this. Unclear what the net impact of COVID has been on carbon emissions. Increased diversity and equity in construction projects: recruitment and retention of employees.

Governmental Relations, Stephanie

No meeting this month; communication has stopped.

Pitt Day in Harrisburg is normally a major focus but this is not currently an option due to COVID.

Lunches with governmental officials are also normally standard.

Trying to decide how to be effective as a committee this year.

Once a month advocacy meetings are currently being considered.

Stories to highlight regarding how the university is being helpful in the community.

Social and racial justice in this committee moving forward: main focus is on disseminating info on the new course for students

Faculty Affairs, Ashley

No meeting since last Postdoc Council

Athletics & Recreation, Mariarosaria

Conflict – did not attend.

Library, Seungil

[Not present; Sent via email]

Faculty Assembly’s discussion of a “preferred journals” list.

The Tenure and Academic Freedom Committee (TAFC) learned that at least one school within the University uses a “preferred journals” list for faculty publications. TAFC was advised that other schools in the given discipline allegedly also use such a list. The Pitt school’s existing list is being used in the following ways:

1)        Work published in one of the journals on the list can result in summer support or course release.

2)        Publication in journals on the list is considered as part of the annual evaluation and/or promotions.

The existence and use of such a list may raise concerns about academic freedom as well as negatively affect individual faculty’s career development and opportunities

The issue may sensitive, therefore, will be discussed deeper later.

Discussion of open access (OA) policies at selected peer institutions.

Open access policy is useful for researchers especially in this pandemic but needs better reasons and motivation to make it real considering the cost. University of Wisconsin and a few other Universities are working on the OA policy.

Library access during the pandemic.

No offline service in the pandemic. The university is working on reopen even for small number of allowances. Detailed regulation may be necessary for reopening.


Tenzin – Are postdoc representatives voting members in the Senate?

From Dave, here are the bylaws stating that postdocs are voting members:

(b) Composition:  Each standing committee shall have a voting membership of nine faculty Senate members, one staff member appointed by the Staff Council, one postdoctoral member appointed by the University of Pittsburgh Postdoctoral Association, and four students (one graduate student selected by the Assembly of the Graduate and Professional Students Association, two undergraduate students selected by the Student Government Board, and one student selected by the College of General Studies Student Government Council).

Sushobhan – Follow-up on the UPPDA website

Dave: Mariarosaria currently has a template for the new website, but is working on it to make it live.