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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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Opinion | Return of the summer bucket list
Opinion | Return of the summer bucket list
By Delaney Rauscher Adams, Staff Columnist • May 28, 2024
Opinion | Do not arrest peaceful protesters
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • May 23, 2024

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Opinion | Return of the summer bucket list
Opinion | Return of the summer bucket list
By Delaney Rauscher Adams, Staff Columnist • May 28, 2024
Opinion | Do not arrest peaceful protesters
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • May 23, 2024

Faculty assembly discusses calendar changes, campus renovations

Faculty+Assembly+meets+in+Posvar+Hall+on+Wednesday+afternoon.
Kaylee Uribe | Senior Staff Photographer
Faculty Assembly meets in Posvar Hall on Wednesday afternoon.

Faculty Assembly President Robin Kear announced an update to the academic calendar for the fall 2024 semester during Wednesday’s meeting. 

Final exams begin on Dec. 11, 10 days after students return from Thanksgiving break. The winter recess for faculty and staff will begin on Dec. 23. 

“The vice provost explained that there are many pressures on the calendar committee. Every possible scenario for the end of the fall term was discussed,” Kear said. “I urge you all to think about how you may want to structure your teaching for the end of the fall.”

Faculty Assembly met Wednesday afternoon in room 2700 of Posvar Hall and over Zoom. At the meeting, they discussed updates to the fall academic calendar and the General Education Reform Task Force and heard a report from the Learning Spaces Management Committee. 

Pitt decided to implement the calendar change after a recent Education Policies Committee meeting. The committee feared that because Thanksgiving Break falls late in November, students would not have time to complete final projects ahead of finals week and staff would not have time to process December graduations. 

Faculty Assembly Member Thomas Songer, a professor in the School of Health Sciences, expressed concerns about the way Pitt has communicated calendar changes to faculty and staff. Songer claimed the only communication he’s received about the change came through an article published in the University Times.

“This is a drastic change to the traditional fall calendar in multiple ways,” Songer said. “We need more than one message going out to faculty about this change. Most of the faculty have no idea.” 

Other significant changes to the academic calendar include two days for fall break instead of one and an asynchronous learning day during the presidential election on Nov. 5.

At the meeting, Kear also reiterated a statement made during the March 21 Senate Council meeting about the status of Zoom renewal for the University. 

“There have been some misunderstandings about what’s going on. Zoom is not going away,” Kear said. “Our contract has been renewed.”

In February, Kear announced that deans of each school will get the chance to decide whether or not to renew the Zoom subscription for their school. The subscription includes webinars, a Q&A option and other premium features. 

John Stoner, a professor in the Department of History, expressed his concern about the lack of student turnout at recent General Education Reform Task Force meetings. 

The General Education Reform Task Force, formed by the office of the provost in January 2024, aims to refine general education requirements across all schools over the course of the next three years. 

“The faculty response [at the meetings] have been decent, but the student response has really been lacking,” Stoner said. “One of the challenges we noted was that students are term limited, so they’re less motivated to worry about what gen eds might look like for a cohort that isn’t them.”

Members of the Learning Spaces Management Committee presented information about plans for campus renovations aimed at maximizing classroom utilization for the upcoming years. 

“We’ve been able to establish guidelines for classroom standards that our committee uses to prioritize what rooms need to be addressed from a physical and technology standpoint,” Greg Smith, a committee representative, said. 

Recent renovations the committee facilitated include a $3 million dollar lecture room renovation in Langley Hall, seat replacements in the Cathedral of Learning and technology updates at Pitt’s Greensburg campus.

“One project that will be a very large and impactful project is the Cathedral second floor,” Smith said. “We are currently working on a three-phase project to renovate all the rooms on the second floor. It will take each of the next three summers to complete.”

Caroline Vega, another representative for the Learning Spaces Management Committee, provided an update on the Campus Master Plan, a plan for renovations for the entire campus which has been in progress since 2017 and is set to be fully drafted by the end of 2025.

“We are in the initial stages of building off the master plan from 2017 — the discovery and analysis phase,” Vega said. “We’ll get into feedback forms in the fall where we’ll be reaching out to faculty with questions and surveys.”