Senate Council recaps academic year, SGB discusses plans for fall


Zoom screenshot

The last Senate Council meeting of the year on Thursday.

By Pamela Smith, Contributing Editor

Chancellor Gallagher opened Thursday’s Senate Council meeting by thanking council members advocating for Pitt’s state funding. According to Gallagher, the University’s funding and consequently in-state tuition discount may be negatively impacted by the state legislature’s next budget due to institutional discrepancies between the University and legislature.

“If you joined as a Pitt advocate, if you’ve visited, if you’re just staying informed, if you’ve written and contacted your lawmakers, all of this makes a difference and I just wanted to express my appreciation to all of you,” Gallagher said.

Pitt’s Senate Council held its last meeting of the academic year on Thursday afternoon, in room 2700 of Posvar Hall as well as over Zoom. Subcommittees shared plans from the past academic year and possible plans for the fall semester. The council also voted on one draft policy regarding institutional conflict of interest during the meeting.

Gallagher said support for the in-state discount requires a “supermajority vote” and to “expect to hear a lot” about the issue in June. The state legislature must approve Pitt’s funding for the 2022-2023 academic year by June 30. 

“We remain concerned about the level of support to pass the appropriation that’s needed to provide the in-state discount for Pennsylvania students. It does require a supermajority vote. And it has to happen late in the process,” Gallagher said. “So all of that is pointing towards a very busy season in June and you can expect to hear a lot from us as things start to happen again.”

Gallagher also discussed the implementation of the Public Safety Advisory Committee, believing it to have a lot of potential as a “model approach.”

“This committee has been refining a vision for creating a structure for community-based public safety, which moves beyond simply the prevention of crime and violence and policing, and looks at a broad range of conditions that define our well being, including food security, equity and diversity,” Gallagher said. “I think it would be exciting, and candidly, a model approach, if we’re successful in taking these efforts and turning them into a way of defining our programs around community-based public safety here.”

Robin Kear, president of the Senate Council, followed Gallagher by briefly mentioning the issues the council tackled in the last year, believing that their solutions were successful. Kear said this year’s accomplishments included the council’s interim COVID-19 vaccine policy, the permanent COVID-19 vaccine policy and pandemic related teaching issues, as well as diversity, equity and inclusion, committee remodeling, public safety issues and faculty tenure changes. 

Danielle Floyd, the incoming Student Government Board president, described SGB’s potential plans for the upcoming 2022-2023 academic year. She said they plan to improve communications between SGB and the student body, create bank accounts for student organizations, and increase the amount of study spaces on campus. 

Floyd also said SGB wants to improve off-campus living, including legal consultations for “landlord-tenant disputes.”

“We will be continuing to sponsor free 20 minute legal consultations for Pitt undergraduate or grad students,” Floyd said. “Students should call or email our office or schedule a consultation.” 

Senate Council also discussed and voted on one draft policy on institutional conflict of interest. This policy would assure that external interests of university officials that are department chairs or above, or institutional financial interests, “do not influence or appear to influence the integrity of the University’s mission,” according to Penelope Morel, co-chair of the research committee.

“The main purpose of this policy is to provide an identifying management plan which would be developed by an institutional conflict of interest committee,” Morel said. “These could include recommendations to decline gifts or funding, appointments of new supervisors, et cetera.” 

The committee voted 29 to 1 in favor of the draft policy.

Kear thanked the council for their accomplishments over the year. The Senate Council will resume meetings in September.

“I wanted to just thank you all for your time and effort in shared governance this year,” Kear said.