Senate Council talks IPA policy, sexual assault prevention


Zoom screenshot

Thursday’s Senate Council meeting.

By Katie Cassidy, Senior Staff Writer

Following the sexual assault incident in the Cathedral of Leading in October, Student Government Board President Danielle Floyd said SGB leaders have remained in active conversation about the topic. 

“The SGB student leaders have engaged in conversations to work towards the goal of prevention, with SGB creating a committee dedicated to preventing sexual assault on the Pitt campus,” Floyd said. “Right now we are trying to coordinate student efforts outside of SGB, around campus, to ensure that students are communicating with administration so that we can confidently say that this is what students want.”

Pitt’s Senate Council held its November meeting on Thursday afternoon, in person at 2700 Posvar Hall and over Zoom, to discuss follow-ups to the sexual assault incident in the Cathedral, the Intergovernmental Personnel Act and the academic freedom resolution, as well as SGB updates and staff council efforts.

Melanie Scott, vice chair for research, presented the IPA recently passed by the Faculty Assembly. Scott said the mobility program makes up a large portion of the policy and is a mechanism for mobility between federal and state organizations, primarily colleges and universities.

“The IPA permits federal agencies to assign personnel both to and from an agency to promote cooperation and mutual benefits between the federal agency and the non-federal entity,” Scott said. “It aims to strengthen the management capabilities of an agency, to assist in the transfer and use of new technologies and approaches and to develop implementation of federal policies, as well as providing program and developmental experience.”

According to Scott, the IPA outlines the responsibilities of all involved parties and offers provisions to aid in the transition between positions and make the transfer as smooth as possible.

“The policy works to ensure that any students working with this faculty member are able to still receive that mentorship,” Scott said. “Grant responsibilities, research responsibilities, all have to be taken into consideration, as well as any conflicts of interest that may arise.” 

Scott said the IPA is not only a positive sign for the University as a whole, but also for the faculty, as it will “widen knowledge bases” and work to foster interorganizational communication and rapport. 

“These IPA positions are very beneficial to the individual [and] Pitt as a whole, as well as the federal organization,” Scott said. “This policy essentially streamlines and clarifies the application process so that IPA assignees can work with their supervisors and schools in order to set up the right situations for them to engage in this work.”

The Senate Council voted to approve the IPA. The policy passed with 23 votes in favor and no opposition.

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher also presented his monthly report, which included praising the election day efforts across campus and offering comments on Veterans Day activities across campus.

“I want to acknowledge and appreciate the impressive and wide-ranging efforts across our campus in support of civic engagement,” Gallagher said. “Friday is Veterans Day, and I want to extend a special thanks to Pitt’s Office of Veterans Services for their work every day in support of our veterans and their family members here in the community.”

Gallagher also commended faculty members across Pitt’s campus, including Gwendolyn Sowa, co-director of the Ferguson Laboratory for Orthopaedic and Spine Research, and Peggy Liu, an associate professor of business administration.

“Gwen Sowa was elected to the National Academy of Medicine, the highest honors in health care and medicine,” Gallagher said. “Additionally, Peggy Liu has been awarded the prestigious Early Career Award for distinguished contributions to consumer research by the Association for Consumer Research.”

Senate Council President Robin Kear presented a summation of the academic freedom resolution passed at last Wednesday’s Faculty Assembly meeting during her report. She said the resolution did not come from a “specific threat” but rather as a general push towards greater visibility.

“The resolved statements are that the Faculty Assembly recommends that the University administration and Board of Trustees better articulate academic freedom as a core value of the University,” Kear said. “The Faculty Assembly recommends that university administration develop specific policies and procedures as it applies to all University scholars.”

Kear said there are also three draft policies currently available for comment, which involve drones, the University network and vaccination and immunization requirements.

“The drone policy will go through the research committee and the University network policy will go through the Senate computing and information technology committee, and both are open from Oct. 28 to Nov. 28,” Kear said. “The vaccination and immunization requirements policy is open from Nov. 7 to Dec. 5 and will go through faculty affairs and the benefits and welfare committee.”

Staff Council President Lindsay Rodzwicz reported on recent staff council updates and action items. Rodzwicz said the staff council met with the Council of Campuses on Wednesday, which included leadership from regional staff councils. She said the discussion mainly focused on how Pitt can support regional partners, as well as the concerns of each staff council for their own campuses.

“Many of the regional staff concerns echo what the staff concerns here at Pitt include, such as job creep, compensation, retention and loss of institutional knowledge, campus safety and university-centralized systems, access and training,” Rodzwicz said.

Rodzwicz said a specific focus for the staff council is the lactation resolution, which was developed by the diversity, equity and inclusion committee and was approved by the general membership in October. 

“The resolution seeks to expand upon and improve available resources, support and encouragement for lactating employees at Pitt,” Rodzwicz said. “We are hopeful that the University would support a committee that is university-wide of all the stakeholders that would look at resources to support breastfeeding for our employees and students.”