Senate Council holds short, sweet first meeting of the fall semester


The first Senate Council meeting for the fall 2018 semester was brief and lighthearted as University administrators and several representatives of shared governance groups provided attendees with reports and updates.

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher was the first to report. He introduced Provost Ann Cudd, who officially started earlier this month, and reviewed several other recent appointees.

“She's the only person I know who shows up on the first day, has a freshman convocation and moves into a house in the same day,” Gallagher said of Cudd. “So, it's pretty impressive.”

Cudd said she’s still transitioning into her new role — and home.

“The house is still a mess,” Cudd said as meeting attendees laughed. “And the learning curve is steep but it's really a joy to be here and I really look forward to working with this body.”

Gallagher also detailed the status of various Pitt construction projects and welcomed Pitt’s largest freshman class ever with 4,020 students.

Those students and many others at Pitt will benefit from a 3 percent increase in state funding, Gallagher said. Undergraduate tuition will remain the same for the majority of in-state students on all five campuses.

“This is welcome news for those families,” he said. “It's actually, if you think about it, a surprising outcome.”

However, Gallagher said, this year’s budget cycle will be different than last year’s because of the upcoming gubernatorial election. He predicted there will be “a lot less clarity about what would happen” and “much more unpredictability” regarding future funding from the state.

The report from Senate President Chris Bonneau, who took office this summer, began with a joke as he recapped the discussions from the first Faculty Assembly.

“Our first Faculty Assembly meeting last week contained the highest attendance ever. Period. Now, that may or may not be true, but we don't know that it's not, not true,” Bonneau said in veiled reference to President Donald Trump's comments about the attendance at his 2017 inauguration.

Bonneau briefly reviewed discussions at the Faculty Assembly regarding Intellectual Property policies and unionization.

He finished by saying the Assembly is expecting presentations from Cudd and the Title IX office next month.

Following presentations from representatives of Pitt’s Student Government Board and the Graduate and Professional Student Government, the Staff Council presented its report.

Staff Council President Andy Stephany said Staff Council added 15 new members, bringing the total membership to 90. He also celebrated the installation of new pedestrian safety features at 5th and North Bellefield avenues, prompted by Staff Council advocacy.

The Staff Council will have its first general body meeting at noon Sept. 19 in room 102, Benedum Hall.

He also announced several staff-related events in the coming months:

Donovan Harrell is a writer for the University Times. Reach him at or 412-383-9905.