Satire | A send-off letter to Ann B. Dudd

By Paul Beer, Staff Columnist

In March, it was suddenly announced that our beloved provost Ann B. Dudd will depart to her eternal resting home — Portland State University — in the fall. It is with great sadness and deep admiration that I have the honor to remember her life at Pitt. Services have been arranged by the Board of Trustees to view her one last time at the William Pitt Union on 4/20.

She will be missed, for above all, Ms. Dudd was an ally for every Pitt student — big or small, Black or white, trans or Nazi. And as provost, she oversaw and deftly handled major controversies at Pitt. The first one our oldest students would remember was COVID-19. At a time when student mental health was crashing due to pandemic uncertainty, Ms. Dudd oversaw the most groundbreaking initiative for mental health yet — student self-care days.

Mostly scheduled in the middle of the week when students are swamped with classes and assignments, Dudd made the decision based on overwhelming evidence that students need to just catch a break! When pressed about the removal of spring break to compensate for these two self-care days, Dudd replied sincerely.
“The students have spoken, and I have answered. Mental health care should be at the forefront of our attention when addressing student life. That’s why we built the initiative to remove spring break. Spring break is wasteful and disgusting, a tease for students seeking the ‘good life.’ We want to actually give them the good life,” Dudd said. 

“Instead of spring break, we offer the safer and more fulfilling ‘student self-care day,’ where students can sit at home, socially-distanced, and do face-masks and paint each other’s nails — while of course making sure to turn in their assignments by 11:59,” she added. 

The self-care days were a massive success. In response to the increase in student satisfaction and happiness, Dudd closed the Student Health Center and fired the school psychologists. With the extra budget made available, she gave students a $2 discount off that semester’s tuition. “I just want the students to remember me as generous,” she said. 

Around that time too, Dudd was on the frontlines in the battle against dangerous and unsettling unionization occurring with graduate students. When the Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board found that Pitt had engaged in “coercive” practices to sway union voting, Dudd made her case clear. 

“We’re still looking for a path that will keep everyone happy. In effect, we’re all searching for the same goal, and I relish in that. Graduate students seeking unionization are looking out for their friends and colleagues, and when I rally against it, I’m looking out for my friends and colleagues too” Dudd said. “We all want to keep our salaries, and I don’t find it fair that you want to take that from us. However, I do find the PLRB’s assessment that we engaged in ‘coercive’ practices unsettling. I’m not even sure I know what ‘coercive’ means!”

How candid. Our beloved Ms. Dudd was always a champion for the little guy. And she proved that even more when she rallied support for our trans students in the face of conservative speakers coming to campus. One person close to the provost replied with a comment.

“I just don’t know how she does it. Day and night, the provost is sitting behind her computer carefully crafting message after message. She knows the emails she sends out affirming trans people on campus mean a lot to the community, so she spends almost all of her time doing it. I’m not even sure when she sleeps!”

When students gathered to protest against Riley Gaines and Michael Knowles’ appearances on campus, Ms. Dudd was seen at the front lines. She waved a white flag and held a sign that said, “I have a trans friend.” Rumors then started to go around that Gaines left the University shocked at the level of support the provost had for trans students, and Knowles is considering canceling his event after reading the provost’s most recent trans-affirmation email. I’ve also heard that Pitt’s Turning Point USA chapter is considering disbanding after seeing it. 

We’ll always remember you Ann. We’ll remember how effortlessly you championed support for students, especially those most vulnerable. We’ll remember the smiles on our faces when an email notification pops up addressed from you. We’ll remember other good things you did too, but I can’t think of them right now. From all of us at Pitt, thank you.

I’ve just gotten word that our University’s esteemed chancellor has sadly transitioned into the next life as well. Chancellor Excalibur will be buried with his beloved marionette dolls of his family at the Cathy Club, with an exact date still unknown. A new chancellor has been selected in this time of grieving, Joan Gabel

Reading her biography, I think we’ll be getting more of the same — and that’s so relieving.

Paul Beer writes about political affairs and reads too many album reviews. Write back to him (or send music recommendations) at [email protected].