Staff Council setting up emergency fund for co-workers in need


Staff Council is starting an emergency fund for Pitt employees in need that will be available beginning in 2024.

Inspired by a Staff Council member who needed help in 2021 when a neighbor’s house fire spread to her own, Carolyn Mazzella (a sponsored projects administrator in the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences) on the organization’s Staff Relations committee pushed for the fund, which will benefit staff members, faculty not in the union bargaining unit and post-doctoral students.

Lindsay Rodzwicz Burns, Staff Council president, said Pitt employees on all five campuses may apply for the fund when encountering “unanticipated, insurmountable expense” in an emergency situation — “something that creates a significant, temporary financial hardship due to some significant life event” such as a death in the family, a natural disaster, serious illness, critical injury or a spouse or partner’s loss of employment.

Staff Council plans to raise funds through its Pitt Day of Giving campaign. The emergency fund has already been seeded by a $100,000 contribution from the Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor for Business and Operations, Dave DeJong.

The fund will be administered through Human Resources, much as a similar fund for student emergencies created by Student Affairs during the pandemic. HR will accept de-identified applications for decisions within 7 to 10 days. Burns says the maximum grant from the fund will be $1,500, based on Staff Council’s study of such funds in schools comparable to Pitt, “depending on what this person needed help with: housing bills, medical bills, travel bills. …

“At a critical time in a person's life when they need help I think it will be very impactful,” she says. “We are hopeful that employees will consider donating during Pitt Day of Giving that will help our fellow co-workers in a time of need.”

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


Have a story idea or news to share? Share it with the University Times.

Follow the University Times on Twitter and Facebook.