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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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New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
Column | Former Villanova fanatic watches “Nova Knicks” take down Sixers in NBA Playoffs
By Aidan Kasner, Sports Editor • May 23, 2024
Opinion | Do not arrest peaceful protesters
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • May 23, 2024

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Get Pitt and Oakland news in your inbox, three times a week.

New York Knicks forward Precious Achiuwa (5) shoots over Philadelphia 76ers guard Kelly Oubre Jr., rear, in red, during the first half of an NBA basketball game in New York on Sunday, March 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)
Column | Former Villanova fanatic watches “Nova Knicks” take down Sixers in NBA Playoffs
By Aidan Kasner, Sports Editor • May 23, 2024
Opinion | Do not arrest peaceful protesters
By Livia LaMarca, Assistant Opinions Editor • May 23, 2024

Senate Council holds final meeting of semester, recaps recent events

A+portrait+of+Chancellor+Joan+Gabel.
Ethan Shulman | Visual Editor
A portrait of Chancellor Joan Gabel.

The final Senate Council meeting of the semester took place on Thursday afternoon in room 2700 Posvar Hall and over Zoom. At the meeting, the group discussed safety culture on campus following the Victory Heights construction accident and recapped the year’s accomplishments, including new leadership appointments and the passage of six policies.

Chancellor Gabel began Thursday’s Senate Council meeting by thanking the Pitt community for being “welcoming and helpful” in her first year as Chancellor.

“You helped us identify our new provost. We set a plan for the future of the institution. We’ve centered our students in their education and in their lives. We’ve engaged in some really meaningful research and discovery, served our communities, and we’re looking forward to welcoming our next group of students,” Gabel said. “Now we navigate into the summer amidst some very obviously some very challenging days, but also some thoughts of optimism as a tip next academic year.”

Gabel also addressed the accident that fatally injured a UPMC employee near the Victory Heights construction site on May 3. She expressed condolences to the family, friends and community partners who have been affected and announced that the Pittsburgh City Government and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) will lead two separate investigations of the accident. Gabel then held a moment of silence for the victim and her loved ones.

“I want you to know that we’re fully committed to construction safety and worksite safety,” Gabel said. “Safety is our number one priority, and it’s a very difficult time for our community. Many members of our community are very directly impacted by what happened [or] were there. We have mental health resources available.”

One attendee expressed their concerns surrounding safety culture on campus after the incident and encouraged leadership to “re-examine” student safety measures with the many current construction projects on campus.

“It just seems that safety culture is extremely important with a lot of construction going on on campus,” the attendee said. “I think that this is an opportunity for us to re-examine that culture, especially with new students coming in the fall term who are unaware of the risks that exist in our environment, which with no construction are meaningful risks…I think we need heightened awareness of the safety elements associated with our [campus].” 

Gabel also addressed the “liberated zone” in Schenley Plaza that occurred during the last week of classes and finals week in response to the Israel-Palestine conflict. 

“In partnership with the city, with Carnegie Mellon and other community stakeholders, [the protest] is respected as an expression of voice as part of people’s First-Amendment rights,” Gabel said. “We are hearing a variety of points of advocacy right now, [and] as you might imagine, a very wide set of opinions. We are working very closely with Student Affairs to both support our students and their expression of voice and also make sure that they’re aware of the sources of support and the liaisons that we have.”

Gabel also announced new leadership in the School of Education and updated attendees on the dean searches for the Schools of Engineering and School of Law. 

“Eboni Zamani-Gallaher has been named the new Renée and Richard Goldman Dean of the School of Education, effective May 1,” Gabel said. “Eboni has been the interim dean since August, and prior to that, she was the Associate Dean for Equity, Justice and Strategic partnerships.” 

Gabel also discussed recent accolades and honors by students and alumni, which include achievements at the 2024 Big Idea Competition held in April.

“There were nine winning teams with different student innovations that were awarded nearly $80,000,” Gabel said in regards to the Big Idea Competition. “Several teams proposed new medical devices, [while] others tackled environmental, educational, and social challenges.”

One graduate student and four undergraduate students won Boren Awards to study abroad in Senegal, Tajikistan, Vietnam, Croatia and Taiwan and learn about different languages and cultures. Gabel added that Pitt has been recognized as a 2024 Boren Fellowships top producer. 

Gabel introduced the two Pitt alumni who recently won Pulitzer Prizes for their respective career achievements.

“Two alumni recently received Pulitzer Prizes, one in poetry and one in public service,” Gabel said. “Brandon Som, who earned his MFA in poetry from the University, was recognized for a collection of poems published in the Georgia Review, and Brett Murphy, a graduate of the Dietrich School, was recognized as part of a team of journalists at ProPublica that produced a series on wealthy individuals seeking to influence the Supreme Court justices with gifts.”

Senate Council President Robin Kear announced the passing of six policies, which are “applicable to all members of the university community.” The policies include Research Data Management, Access To and Use of University Computing Resources, Vaccination Immunization Requirements, Access To and Release of Education Records, Assistance Animals, Therapy Animals and Pet Policies and Unit Level Payments for Research Participants, Students and Other Activities, which was approved at the meeting. 

Joy Hart gave the report on the Unit Level Payments policy proposal in place of Staff Council President Lindsay Rodzwicz.

“For students, that addresses a mechanism for protecting payments when traveling for university activities,” Hart said. “It’s not meant for purchasing. It’s a mechanism for university payments to individuals who are not students or employees, that is, persons potentially needed to be interviewed for a study.”

Hart said the policy will improve the process of paying individuals for their participation in a study. 

“In terms of the payment processing entity, the responsibilities are for managing the process of the payments, providing a secure payment system to the university and then monitoring or auditing the system periodically to ensure proper payment initiation,” Hart said. “For the units, researchers’ responsibilities are to maintain the proper documentation for the payments made to keep the payment-related data secure.”

Kear closed her report by reflecting on how current issues have affected the academic year and urged her colleagues to continue to “be part of the path of compassion and dialogue.”

“I look over all my notes from the year…and several times I could see in my notes just pain and sorrow [at] some of my comments related to the state of the world,” Kear said. “War and devastation have brought us social upheaval once again, so I encourage us to try to listen to each other, to try and understand views that are different from our own and work toward coexistence.”



About the Contributor
Anna Kuntz, Staff Writer