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By The Pitt News Staff

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May 12 – Pitt to build Iranian Nationality Room

After two unsuccessful attempts dating to 1958, Pitt will transform room 352 of the Cathedral of Learning into an Iranian Nationality Room — once it secures funding.

 The total cost of the room will be between $800,000 and $1 million. To fundraise for this project, Salim Malakouti, a computer science doctoral student and vice president of the Iranian Nationality Room committee, plans to have private fundraising campaigns in Pittsburgh and nationwide, as well as host a local Iranian food and film festival in Pittsburgh.

The Iranian Nationality Room committee hopes the new nationality room will redefine how Americans portray Iran.

May 16 – Medical marijuana gains momentum in Pennsylvania

On May 12, Senate Bill 3, which would legalize medical use of cannabis in the state of Pennsylvania, passed the State Senate by a 40-7 vote.

If the House passes the bill, it will land on the desk of Governor Tom Wolf, who will likely sign it into law, according to members of Wolf’s staff.

SB 3 would legalize the use of medical cannabis — including the plant itself as well as oils, pills or other medical substances — for patients diagnosed with any of 15 “qualified medical conditions,” including cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS and “chronic or intractable pain where other methods of treatment no longer have therapeutic or palliative benefit.”

May 26 – Pitt releases salaries of top earners

Under the right-to-know law, Pitt released its income tax returns late in May. As a nonprofit organization, Pitt is exempt from paying taxes on its revenue, but still has to file a 990 tax form with the IRS. As a part of the form, the IRS requires Pitt to list its highest paid employees. Among them are head basketball coach Jamie Dixon, former head football coach Paul Chryst and Arthur Levine, senior vice chancellor and dean of the School of Medicine.

Because Gallagher took office at Pitt in August 2014 and Pitt’s fiscal year ended on June 30, his salary was not listed on the 990 form. Pitt spokesperson John Fedele, though, said the Chancellor’s salary was set at $525,000 per year with five yearly raises of $100,000 until 2019. Assuming Gallagher doesn’t leave Pitt before July 31, 2019, Fedele said, he will make $1,025,000 per year after that. Next year’s 990 form, however, will not list Gallagher’s complete salary, Fedele said.

May 26 – After a year of drastic cuts, Pitt launches Year of the Humanities

Last year, Pitt cut its religious studies graduate program and suspended admission to its German and classics graduate programs. Provost Patricia Beeson announced //when?// that the 2015-2016 academic year will be the ‘Year of the Humanities,’ just as the 2014-2015 school year was the ‘Year of Sustainability.’

June 2 – Student Government Board president Graeme Meyer resigns

Less than five months into his term, Pitt’s Student Government Board President Graeme Meyer resigned.

In a release May 29, SGB said Meyer resigned, effective immediately. Executive Vice President Nasreen Harun replaced Meyer.

Meyer resigned for “personal reasons,” he said in an initial email Saturday morning and denied requests to elaborate further from The Pitt News.

June 2 Bike Share comes to Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Bike Share has launched Healthy Ride, Pittsburgh’s first bike share program. The program includes 50 stations connecting 11 Pittsburgh neighborhoods, including Oakland and Shadyside.

The Healthy Ride bikes are available to rent at the 50 stations, 24 hours a day, all year long, according to David White, the director. Riders can register at either a Bike Share kiosk or the mobile app, which is hosted through NextBike, a German bike company. Memberships cost $12 monthly for unlimited 30 minute rides and $20 monthly for unlimited 60 minute rides.

June 17 – Pittsburgh’s Classic Theater on the move

Pitt’s Theatre Arts department is expanding, requiring another Pittsburgh theatre company to leave its longtime home on Pitt’s campus.

The Stephen Foster Memorial, which Pitt owns and is located on Forbes Avenue across from Schenley Plaza, has hosted PICT Classic Theatre for the past decade. Due to planned expansions, Pitt has recently informed the company that it will not renew the company’s lease, which expires in December, according to PICT’s artistic and executive director, Alan Stanford.

June 19 – Heinz Chapel reopens

Pitt has reopened the Heinz Memorial Chapel after closing it for eight months for complicated renovations. Pitt began the renovations in September 2014 and completed the project on the 77-year old Chapel in mid-May.

Pitt installed a climate control system in the Chapel that will control the temperature year round without rattling radiators and protect the woodwork and stained glass inside

In total, Pitt budgeted $1,735,000 for the project, but Facilities Management has not yet determined the final cost of the project.

June 23 – Pitt’s Board of Trustees installs first female chair

At a full board meeting June 19, former Chairman Stephen Tritch handed over his gavel to Board member and Pitt alumna Eva Tansky Blum, now the first female chair of Pitt’s Board of Trustees.

June 23 – Vice premier of China visits

Liu Yandong, the vice premier of the People’s Republic of China, paid a visit to Pitt on June 19 in what both she and University officials called a show of friendship.

Liu visited Pitt as part of a three-city tour in the U.S. Earlier in the day, Liu met with Mayor Bill Peduto. Liu ended her time in the U.S. at the sixth China-U.S. High-Level Consultation on People-to-People and Cultural Exchanges in Washington, D.C. on June 24.

June 30 – After same-sex marriage ruling, Pennsylvania considers non discrimination bill

While Pennsylvania allowed same-sex marriage as of last May, the state does not yet have a law in place that guards against discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.

Both Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh have protection against discrimination in place, but nearly 70 percent of Pennsylvania’s population lives in an area without protection against discrimination, according to the ACLU.

Currently, state representatives Dan Frankel (D-Pittsburgh) and Brian Sims (D-Philadelphia) are planning to reintroduce legislation that would make it illegal to discriminate against a person based on that individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.

The current law protects Pennsylvania citizens from discrimination because of race, color, religious creed, ancestry, age or national origin. The new bill would add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity or expression” to that list.

June 30 –  Pitt’s School of Medicine, UPMC launch center for women’s health

In an effort to promote women’s health, Pitt and UPMC have launched a new think tank for women’s health research.

Pitt’s School of Medicine and UPMC launched The Center for Women’s Health Research and Innovation (CWHRI) in June. Sonya Borrero, the director of the CWHRI, said this new group is a way to formalize research efforts for women’s health care and cater to their health needs. Borrero oversees the center, a section within the Division of General Internal Medicine, which is a part of Pitt’s School of Medicine. The group will also host forums and seminars for researchers. These meetings are held in several locations on Pitt’s campus, including McKee Place and the Parkvale Building.

July 7 –  Pitt delays dean search until fall

Pitt is delaying its search for a new dean of students until the start of the fall term after saying in February it would begin the search sometime this summer.

Pitt spokesperson Ken Service said in an email last week that the schedule he provided in February was an estimate and said Provost Patricia Beeson is planning a search. Further details will not be available until the start of the fall semester. At that time, Service said, the provost will form a search committee.

July 9 – Pittsburgh security workers rally on Pitt’s campus

Members of the Service Employees International Union and dozens of security guards from around Pittsburgh held a rally July 9 outside the Cathedral of Learning calling for a wage increase, more lenient sick days and cheaper health insurance coverage.

According to Traci Benjamin, spokesperson for 32BJ, Pittsburgh’s chapter of the SEIU, negotiations started in April. Pitt employs security guards from U.S. Security, but is not involved in negotiations, Pitt spokesperson John Fedele said.

July 7 – Volunteer for Police interviews

The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police are looking to hire new officers, but for the first time, community members will have a say in who gets a job.

As part of a new initiative, Pittsburgh Police put out a call for volunteers last week to increase the number of civilian community members taking part in the oral board portion of the hiring process, one of the first assessments for candidates. The initiative is meant to increase community policing, Jennifer Ford, a commander for the police who is overseeing the program, said. Volunteers will interview potential candidates between July 21-30, joining officers to conduct the interviews. The candidates whom the police and volunteers are interviewing are expected to join the force next March if hired.

July 17 – Pitt increases tuition

At an Executive Committee meeting July 17 in Wesley W. Posvar Hall, the Board voted to raise tuition for Pitt’s Oakland students by 1.7 percent, but not for students at its branch campuses.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has yet to formulate a budget for 2016, leaving Pitt with an inconclusive operating budget for the fiscal year, which began on July 1. Pitt, however, decided to approve the increase now, Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said, “so that students and their families can make plans for the coming year.” Once the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s budget is released, Gallagher plans to increase the budget for student aid by the same amount as the tuition increase.

Overall, Pitt’s Board of Trustees approved a tuition increase of 1.7 percent, making it the lowest tuition increase Pitt has seen in the last 40 years.

July 21 – Pittsburgh City Council to refine noise ordinance

By changing a few words in local legislation, Pittsburgh City Council hopes to make it easier to keep the peace.

At a City Council Meeting on July 21, Bruce Kraus, City Council president and South Oakland representative, introduced a bill that intends to update and rework Pittsburgh’s Noise Control Ordinance, a city-wide rule meant to keep public order. If it passes, the legislation will change the city’s definition of noise — which is currently set at anything above 75 decibels — to a looser one that defines noise as any “sound that annoys or disturbs a reasonable person of normal sensitivities.” This definition, Kraus said, is used by other cities and municipalities around the country.

July 28 – Pitt reopens two Cathedral elevators

As of July 28, Pitt has completed the first phase of its Cathedral elevator modernization project, reopening two of the building’s eight main elevators.

Pitt began construction on the elevators last August and expects the whole project to be complete sometime next spring. In total, the project will cost more than $10 million, with Pitt contributing $200,000 and the rest coming from the Pennsylvania government, Fedele said in an email in June.

July 30 – Port Authority to make changes in coming months

With its “Where to Next” campaign, Pittsburgh’s Port Authority may establish a flat fare.

On June 9, Port Authority announced a campaign using online surveys to ask the community how to improve the bus fare system. The survey will examine the two-zone fare system and the timing of payment.

Pittsburgh Port Authority Transit will make changes to its fare system this winter.

“No decisions have been made. We plan to discuss this more as an agency in the fall,” spokesperson Jim Ritchie said.

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