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The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

The University of Pittsburgh's Daily Student Newspaper

The Pitt News

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Kamalani Akeo talks with members of the womens volleyball coaching staff in 2021.
Kamalani Akeo: An unsung hero contributing to the success of Pitt volleyball
By Matthew Scabilloni, Senior Staff Writer • 10:10 am

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Kamalani Akeo talks with members of the womens volleyball coaching staff in 2021.
Kamalani Akeo: An unsung hero contributing to the success of Pitt volleyball
By Matthew Scabilloni, Senior Staff Writer • 10:10 am

Senate Council discusses Governo Shapiro’s initiatives, SGB plans

A+member+of+the+Senate+Council+at+Thursday%E2%80%99s+meeting+in+Posvar+Hall.
Alex Jurkuta | Staff Photographer
A member of the Senate Council at Thursday’s meeting in Posvar Hall.

Interim Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Joseph McCarthy opened Thursday’s Senate Council meeting by addressing Governor Josh Shapiro’s new framework for higher education in Pennsylvania.

“There’s a lot to unpack in that document,” McCarthy said. “I encourage you to go looking for news stories, et cetera, to get all of the details, but [there are] three initiatives that I want to highlight because they either impact Pitt directly or impact some of our state-funded colleague institutions.”

Senate Council met Thursday afternoon in room 2700 of Posvar Hall and over Zoom. The Council discussed new initiatives at Pitt and the upcoming Senate plenary and heard reports from the Student Government Board.

McCarthy said the first of the three initiatives he wanted to call attention to in Shapiro’s new framework introduced the creation of a performance-based funding mechanism for state-related institutions. He said the second initiative relates to financial aid services for students who are Pennsylvania residents.

“The second initiative of his project that I want to highlight is the overhaul of student aid distribution within the state, including an increase in the PHEAA grants, Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency grants, that go to students that are residents of the commonwealth,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy said the third initiative is the proposed merger of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education with community colleges across the state under one “administrative umbrella.”

“Pitt’s Office of Government Relations and Advocacy is partnering with our state-related peers and with government officials to talk about how that will impact Pitt and our colleagues,” McCarthy said. “They’re working closely with the legislature and the governor’s office to shape the details.”

Student Government Board President Ryan Young reported that SGB participated in ACC Advocacy Day where they lobbied on Capitol Hill for issues regarding Title IX policy, cannabis, free expression and other issues that directly impacted students.

“We had the opportunity to meet with members of Sen. Casey and Sen. Fetterman’s office and with Rep. Summer Lee,” Young said. “It was a really great experience.”

Young said SGB has met with governance groups on improving student representation.

“Governance groups are a select group of student organizations,” Young said. “They’re usually very large ones that are recognized by Student Affairs who represent a certain constituency at Pitt. We’re hoping to build a process that is more equitable, especially to constituencies that are currently underrepresented.”

Senate Council President Robin Kear said she wanted to highlight that the Senate plenary will take place at the William Pitt Union on Thursday, March 7, from noon to 2 p.m. She said the topic of the plenary focuses on bringing disciplines together to solve problems that occur at Pitt and in Pitt’s larger community.

“It’s about interdisciplinary research and teaching how things are key to solving our society’s most thorny issues, and educating our students for a changing and complex future,” Kear said. “When we can speak and work across disciplines to find shared goals and understanding, we are working towards the fundamental mission of higher education.”

McCarthy said there is an additional initiative from the Office of the Provost Student Success Team. He also said Pitt launched a mentoring program called “First at Pitt” focused on supporting first-generation students.

“Through our Pitt Commons app or mentoring app, they’ve launched a mentoring program for this thus far this year,” McCarthy said. “Even with the soft launch so far, we have 116 mentors on board, 78% of which are alumni, and we have nearly 100 student mentees, so I encourage both those that want to mentor first-generation students as well as any of our students that identify as first in their family to attend college to take advantage.”

About the Contributor
Khushi Rai, Senior Staff Writer