November 2008 News and Notes

Welcome
I am very pleased to announce Barb Uscinski has joined the staff in the President’s Office.  As you know, Barb served the University as Enrollment Assistant in the Enrollment Services area.  After eleven years in her position, Barb welcomed a new challenge, and I am grateful for her willingness to accept her new responsibilities.  Barb will provide administrative support and assist in managing the daily operations of the Office of the President.  Barb’s new extension is 27501 and her e-mail remains uscinski@pitt.edu Please join me in welcoming Barb to her new role on campus.


Campus Holiday Party
The holiday season is right around the corner, and it’s time to make plans for our institutional holiday gatherings.  We will try a new approach for our campus-wide holiday party this year.  Festivities will occur on Monday, December 15 from 2:30 to 5:00 p.m. in the KOA Electronics Lobby in Blaisdell Hall.  Administrators of various offices on campus will have the option of closing offices for the two and a half hour period to enable employees to participate in the festivities.  Holiday refreshments will include assorted beverages and holiday delicacies. There will also be door prizes and seasonal music.  In order to assist us in planning for the event, please contact Barb Uscinski at 362-7501 (or uscinski@pitt.edu) to confirm that you will attend.


Holiday Gathering for the Children
On Sunday afternoon, December 14, my wife and I would like to invite the children of our faculty and staff to our home (along with parents, of course) to enjoy holiday treats and celebrate the season.  The event will begin at 2 p.m. and continue until 4 p.m.  Santa Claus may well make an appearance some time during the afternoon and join several of us in reading stories to the children.  Please contact Barb Uscinski at 362-7501 (or uscinski@pitt.edu) to confirm that you will attend. 


Open Forum on New Strategic Plan 
The SWOT discussions by all constituent groups in our campus community have concluded.  The results from those discussions are serving as the basis for proposing a set of major strategic goals that would direct our planning efforts for the next five years.  I invite all members of our campus community to attend a campus-wide open forum to discuss and provide feedback on a potential new direction for our campus.  The forum will take place in the Bromeley Family Theater at 1 p.m. on Monday, December 15.  Please come prepared to share your thoughts about the future of our campus.  If you plan to attend, please contact Barb Uscinski at 362-7501 (or uscinski@pitt.edu). 


Emergency Notification Service
If you have not already subscribed to the Emergency Notification Service, please consider doing so. As you may know, the service will enable you to receive voice and text messages in case of an emergency. To subscribe to the service, visit www.upb.pitt.edu/facultyandstaff.aspx and click on the emergency Notification Service link near the bottom of the page then hit “subscribe now.” Once you are on the my.pitt.edu site, log in by entering your username and password then click the Emergency Notification Service tab in the upper right of the page, add your contact information, and submit.   Also, our Emergency Response Plan is available on our website.

I know that several of you have asked about the status of the Verizon cell tower. The Verizon contract has been signed, and the equipment has been received. We anticipate that Verizon will be installing it within the next several weeks.


Budget Update
I suspect that you have been paying close attention to reports on the turmoil in the financial markets that has wreaked havoc on state financial coffers during the first four months of the fiscal year.  The latest reports indicate that revenue receipts in Harrisburg continue to fall below original projections.  That the revenue shortfall continues to accumulate does not bode well for the economy in general and our institutional budget in particular.  We’re keeping a watchful eye on these developments and making appropriate plans to deal with any possible fallout.

What we know with certainty at this point is that we must reduce our budget for this academic year by $242,712.  We may well receive a directive to reduce our budget again during this academic year.  If we do receive such a directive, then it goes without saying that we would need to make plans for fiscal constraint across all of our various accounts.  I will keep all members of our campus community informed of all new developments.  For the next academic year, the reduction will total $295,050.   Working with our Cabinet members, division chairs, and other colleagues on campus, I will do my very best to generate a range of reasonable contingencies and scenarios for reducing our spending both for this year and next.

Of course, we’re not alone in having to make budgetary adjustments during this troubling economic downturn.  Colleges and universities throughout the country are making similar adjustments as they absorb reductions in their budgets.  Fortunately, the momentum we have built during the last few years enables us to weather these financial challenges up to a point. 
It’s extremely important that we maintain our momentum and not be distracted or intimidated by the challenges lurking on the horizon.  I ask each of you to keep your focus on our vision and recognize that an important reason why we built such positive momentum during the last few years is because we embraced our brand promise and incorporated it in our work.  I ask you to continue to reflect that powerful brand promise.         

 

Livingston Alexander
President