By SUSAN JONES
The University Senate has 15 committees, ranging from Athletics and Recreation to Tenure and Academic Freedom. Nine elected faculty members sit on each committee, with three up for election every year. That means when elections roll around next month, there will be 45 open seats up for grabs, and now is the time to apply to get on the ballot.
The committees also include several appointed members: two from Staff Council, and one each from the undergraduate Student Government Board, the Graduate and Professional Student Government and the Pitt Postdoctoral Association. There’s also a slot for a representative from the College of General Studies.
The committee positions are open to any full-time faculty members — tenured, tenure-stream or appointment stream — or part-time tenured faculty teaching at least six credits (although the Senate has made exceptions for this).
The rest of the committee membership includes liaisons appointed by the chancellor, Senate representatives and pro-tem members. The bylaws say members can serve two three-year terms in a row and then must take a year off before running again, but they can still participate in committee discussions as pro-tem members.
Some committees, such as the Equity, Inclusion and Anti-Discrimination Advocacy committee, have been actively trying to recruit new members. EIADAC is particularly concerned with having a diverse group to consider issues of equity on campus.
Paula Davis, a pro-tem member of the committee and associate vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion for Health Sciences, said they have been seeking new members through networking, direct asks and by trying to raise the visibility of the committee.
In the past few years, EIADAC has tackled issues such as the effectiveness of GREs, gender pay equity and the availability of lactation rooms and gender-neutral bathrooms.
“I think that as we try to turn an equity lens on everything that we do, there is the possibility that there will be more policies and programs that we are examining than have come to our attention in the past,” Davis said about the work the committee will tackle in the future.
She said the hard part with attracting a diverse group to the committee is, “For people of color in the academy, you wind up doing a lot of diversity committee work. And so here I come and say, ‘Will you join yet one more diversity committee.’
“We definitely want to keep it as diverse as we possibly can to get interesting perspectives to what we're doing,” she said.
Lori Molinaro, director of the Senate office, said that faculty who want to be on any of the committees can express interest in more than one, but can only be on the ballot once. She said the Senate’s election committee will look at everyone who applied to multiple committees and decide where to put them on the ballot. “We try to be as representative as possible,” she said, and to make sure each committee has enough people.
All committees are open to the public. Meeting times can be found on the University Senate calendar. All meetings are currently being held via Zoom, and links to specific meetings can be found under each committee on the University Senate website.
Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at email@example.com or 724-244-4042.
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