Trustees meeting approves $6 million resolution

By Olivia Garber

Pitt’s Board of Trustees approved a resolution that would add $6 million to the Fiscal Year… Pitt’s Board of Trustees approved a resolution that would add $6 million to the Fiscal Year 2011 Capital Budget during this morning’s meeting in the William Pitt Union.

The unanimous approval granted funding for the Langley and Crawford Halls Biosafety Levels 2 & 3 Laboratories Project, which was approved by the Property and Facilities Committee in a meeting last November.

This project will renovate more than 4,000 square feet of laboratory space on the fifth floors of Langley and Crawford Halls to create a laboratory suite for the Department of Biological Sciences.

Property and Facilities Committee chair John Pelusi Jr. gave a detailed report of the projects Pitt will tackle in the upcoming years.

The total cost of the projects — which include the Langley and Crawford Halls, as well as renovations to Salk Hall and Benedum Hall — will total $110.5 million, generate 556 on-site construction jobs and 222 off-site construction jobs.

Pelusi also mentioned the leases Pitt has between Cityview Properties, LLC. Locations at the Parkvale Building and Parkvale Annex Building–both in Oakland–will house a total of 78 employees. The total fixed annual cost of the five-year lease renewals for both buildings is $428,463, plus reimbursement for the University’s pro-rata share of real estate taxes assessed for the meeting.

Chancellor Mark Nordenberg also spoke during the meeting, focusing mainly on the achievements of current and former Pitt students.

He began with a video clip of senior Micah Toll, whose invention of disaster recovery material earned him a five-minute spot on the show “The Circuit,” which highlights young inventors.

The mechanical engineering student created a light-weight construction beam made out of a plastic stress skin and foam. Although the material is easy to cut and transport, the video included clips of the material used as a bridge and housing structures.

Because the beams enable quick construction of refugee housing, Toll’s invention could play a large role in disaster relief efforts.

Toll is a two-time winner of Pitt’s Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence Big Idea Competition.

Other notable Pitt students and alumni Nordenberg mentioned included Dr. Wen-Ta Chiu. Chiu, a 2009 Pitt Legacy Laureate and alumnus of Pitt’s Graduate School of Public Health, was appointed minister of Taiwan’s Department of Health in early February.

The end of Nordenberg’s report focused on the economic climate of Pennsylvania. He reiterated through several slides the lack of increased funding from the Commonwealth.

When Pitt became a public university in 1966, Nordernberg said part of the University’s agreement with the state included keeping in-state tuition lower than that of private schools.

“Pitt has consistently delivered on its end [of the 1966 agreement],” Nordenberg said.

But during his report, he mentioned twice that though inflation and state spending have increased, Pitt’s state appropriation has not increased. The chancellor said that the amount of state-appropriated money divided by the number of in-state students amounts to about a $6,200 subsidy for each in-state student, which is less than half of the annual tuition rate of $14,100.

“Because our subsidy is comparatively low, our tuition is comparatively high,” he said.

There was no new business introduced during the meeting.