November 2020 Minutes

November Postdoc Council Digest

A summary of Senate committees and Postdoc Council deliberations relevant to postdocs at Pitt.

Senate Council/Provost Office, Dave

  • Year of Engagement and UPPDA partnership: Pitt is looking to promote engaged scholarship, i.e. work that is being done with the community outside of the University, with a series of workshops from November to educate the academy about this and seeking to promote engaged scholarship as something desired in tenure/promotion. Looking for stories from postdocs who are already performing such work to highlight. 
  • Support for yearly increases to postdoc salaries, which could be retroactive. In particular, the salary increases may be tied to cost of living and inflation, as is the case with staff and faculty.  

Bylaws & Procedures, Sushobhan

  • Elections to committee chair, co-chair, and secretary. No meeting.

Budget Policies, Jenny

  • Postdoc salaries are on the agenda for the January meeting. Amanda Godley’s office confirmed that this will include benchmarking of Pitt postdocs with other AAU universities.
  • Committee is working on steps to promote diversity, in particular increasing visibility. A website that fosters transparency has been put in place (, including a separate section for postdocs that is not broken up by school (since the numbers get too small). Feedback is welcome (to Steve Wisniewski). Reports on salary equity have been requested.
  • Considering a dashboard based on a climate survey so the University can cultivate changes.

Community Relations, Mariarosaria

  • Discussion revolved around two themes: accessibility (the ability to all members of the community to access University spaces) and awareness (the need for the community to know of and feel welcome utilizing community-based programs that the University currently provides).
  • The Committee is implementing them and completing a SWOT evaluation on areas of accessibility and awareness. A draft Race, Justice and Equity Committee Action Plan will soon be introduced.

Computing & IT, Doug

  • Collaborating with the Research Committee on long-term, secure storage of data.
  • Lots of effort being put into enabling remote work and learning, including Zoom, Flex@Pitt, and Canvas.
  • University has migrated from Symantec antivirus to Microsoft BitDefender to save costs, starting process of migrating from Box to Microsoft OneDrive.
  • Working on better integration/cooperation between Pitt and UPMC on technology issues, especially for those who routinely use both (some issues are technical, some are policy-driven).
  • Working on updating University standards for laptops and workstations, including better support for non-traditional (non-Windows) operating systems.
  • Updating usage guidelines and policies for Pitt computing resources.
  • Obtaining regular, systematic reporting from Pitt IT in order to have better oversight of IT-related issues.
  • Addressing, in conjunction with the Research Committee, the requirements for research

data management based on requirements from NIH, NSF, etc. as well as applicable university policies. This is a huge initiative that will take a lot of coordinated effort.

Educational Policies, Tenzin

  • A required course on Black studies was unanimously supported and passed by 93% of Faculty Assembly. However, the question of having adequate faculty to teach it remains.
  • Enabling observance of religious rites during remote learning. A new handbook has been developed to address this. Faculty Assembly has passed the resolution.
  • Unanimous decision to continue to seek student evaluations for courses, but to make these more standardized.

Non-tenure stream Ad Hoc Committee, Lyuqin

  • Have not received any information about committee meeting yet.

Student Admissions, Aid & Affairs, Dave

  • Issues with how ethnic categories are tabulated. Students from more than one category are lumped into a single category, while international students are lumped into their own category regardless of their ethnicity.

Research, Amanda

  • Planning for policies on long-term research storage with Computing & IT committee on.
  • Google drive is going to be integrated with Pitt.
  • Diversity initiatives: MD fellows are lumped in with research postdocs despite their career outcomes being very different. This issue was discussed.

Library, Seungil

  • Like other committees, race-related issues were discussed.

Faculty Affairs, Ashley

  • Collaborating with Budget Policies committee on diversity.
  • Several departments are interested in beginning cluster hiring (specifically in the humanities).
  • A new IP policy was proposed and passed by the full Faculty Assembly.
  • Postdoc pay discrepancy was discussed but was referred to the Budget committee.
  • Discussion on giving faculty credit for community-engaged work that does not result in a publication or research product.
  • Formation of a subcommittee to work on a Diversity, Equality and Inclusion report.

Athletics & Recreation, Mariarosaria

  • Diversity & inclusion is a key focus.
  • Postdocs are not specifically considered by this committee and largely don’t know about the resources available.

Plant Utilization and Planning, Bruce

  • Discussion on ongoing construction, including Bigelow Blvd, William Pitt Union (completed), and the Scaife Hall addition (scheduled to be completed in Aug, 2022).
  • Planning to overhaul the hill on which Chevron, Eberly, and the LRDC stand, with a new road and better access routes.
  • Discussion on the Pittsburgh Climate Action Plan (PittCAP): what must be done to make it successful, what existing assets and future opportunities exist, and how equity can be elevated into processes and outcomes.

Miscellaneous Discussion

  • Discussion on organizing the first Postdoc Communities event.
  • Issues with UPPDA website discussed.