Bylaws change to make part-time faculty full Senate members tabled


After months of debate and discussion, the University Senate’s Bylaws and Procedures Committee passed proposed bylaws changes “to include all part-time faculty as full members of the University Senate,” only to see the matter tabled at this week’s Faculty Assembly meeting.

At the May 10 Faculty Assembly meeting, a resolution to amend Pitt bylaws to include part-time faculty as full members of the University Senate — although not let them be eligible to be Senate officers — was tabled to address questions, concerns and possible amendments that arose during discussion of the proposal. Much of the discussion centered on whether part-time faculty could be committee chairs. A motion to send the resolution back to the Bylaws Committee passed with 28 voting yes, 8 voting no, and one abstention.

“I think that the idea of this is really great,” said Melanie Scott, vice chair of the Senate’s Research committee. “But I think it just needs some more specifics or better-planned specifics that we can vote on. That’s my concern. It’s not the idea of part-time faculty being represented. I’m really for that, for sure. I just think that this in its present form isn’t adequate.”

The proposed changes passed by the Bylaws committee include eliminating the current need for part-time untenured faculty to opt in to Senate membership rather than being automatically included as members, as well as the requirement that part-time faculty need to teach at least six paid credits per year for eligibility

The new bylaws would thus say that Faculty Assembly members will be elected from among those with academic appointments or appointments as faculty librarians.

The changes were prompted, committee members said, to increase part-time faculty participation in University governance, noting in the resolution that the “Part-time faculty at the University of Pittsburgh comprise a sizable proportion of the total number of faculty” and that “persons of color are disproportionately represented in the part-time faculty as compared to the full-time faculty and therefore disproportionately disenfranchised by being required to ‘opt-in’ to Senate membership.”

In voting against adding part-time faculty eligibility to be officers, some committee members expressed concern that University administrators may not take as seriously a Senate president who was a part-time employee, for instance. They also speculated that a part-time faculty member may not have as much time to devote to the job (assuming a part-timer had other work outside the University) or might even just take the post for the stipend ($20,000 for president and vice president; $10,000 for secretary).

Committee chair Nick Bircher countered that such ideas were mere conjecture and the committee agreed informally to re-consider at a later date whether to recommend making part-time faculty eligible to be officers.

Marty Levine is a staff writer for the University Times. Reach him at or 412-758-4859.


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