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Spring 2004 Senate Plenary Planning Committee

Minutes for September 26, 2003 meeting



Attending:  Lisa Brush, Jean Carr, Fran Czak, Jean Ferketish, Kathryn Flannery, Irene Hanson Frieze, Ann Sutherland Harris, Scott Kiesling, Amy Knapp, Josephine Olson, Maureen Porter, Jennifer Stephan, Richard Tobias, Amy Wagner.


Not Able to Attend:  Rita Bean, Susan Hansen, Margaret M. Kimmel, Joan Lakoski, Audrey Murrell, Guy Nicoletti, Karin Porada.


Introductions and Brainstorming:  Everyone was asked to share their ideas about the plenary.  This is a brief summary of these ideas:

  • Lisa Brush.  We need to focus on women’s accomplishments and what makes it possible for women to achieve.  What can be done to further promote women’s accomplishments?  Interested in women researchers in particular.  She points out that we need to make sure that concrete resources can be made available to support any programs that we recommend be developed.
  • Scott Kiesling.  Women are important to the university and men need to support this.  By serving on the committee, he will add a male voice.  He recommended that we articulate our goals for the plenary very explicitly.
  • Kathryn Flannery.  Her major concerns are women’s scholarship and promoting women in leadership roles.
  • Richard Tobias.  As chair of the Senate Anti-discriminatory Policies Committee, he wants to support our efforts.  One of the specific concerns of this committee that is especially relevant for women at Pitt is same-sex partner benefits.
  • Amy Knapp.  We need to better understand the campus climate for women students.  We might want to do a follow up to the Women’s Studies climate survey done in 2001-2002.  She co-chairs the Senate Educational Policies Committee.
  • Jennifer Stephan.  As President of the Campus Women’s Organization, she represents undergraduate women students.  She feels it is important for students and faculty to work together on projects like this.
  • Amy Wagner.  She conducted a survey of issues for women in health care settings.  She is especially interested in resources for young faculty and in helping women to combine clinical and academic responsibilities.
  • Maureen Porter.  She does research and workshops on leadership development for women.  She argues that we need to make sure that mentors have the resources they need to do this important work.  A concrete project we might take on would be to enhance the current guidelines used in the School of Education for department chairmen.
  • Fran Czak.  As Director of the Senate Office, she is available to provide support for our efforts.  She suggests we think about ways to bring as many people as we can into the Plenary session.
  • Ann Sutherland Harris.  Many years ago, she worked on a major report on the status of women at Columbia University in New York.  One of our projects should be to document the history of women at the University of Pittsburgh and to look at how things have changed.  Have we come a long way?  We need to highlight the progress that has been made rather than a focus on the problems.
  • Jean Ferketish.  She has much experience in leadership training for women both in business and academic environments.  Women do express leadership differently than men and this needs to be acknowledged.  She suggests that we need to think about how we can best help develop leadership skills in women at different points in their careers and what types of career development different women might need.  More training is needed for women to be effective mentors.
  • Jo Olson.  A particular issue of concern is the need for more women in higher level administrative positions, as well as better support for those women who do take on administrative jobs.
  • Jean Carr.  An important concern for the group is the need for women to get more experience in leadership roles.  Elizabeth Baranger in the Provost’s Office has produced a large number of reports on women faculty and other issues of concern to women as part of her responsibilities with PACWC.  It would be good if we could get copies of some of these reports.  We should also think about how to enhance the curriculum to better address gender and racial diversity.
  • Audrey Murrell.  Although not able to attend the meeting, she suggested that we work to make our activities relevant to the goals of the Chancellor and the Board of Trustees.
  • Guy Nicoletti.  Although not able to attend the meeting, he suggested that an issue of special concern is the role of women in the sciences and engineering.
  • Joan Lakoski.  Although not able to attend the meeting, she suggested we collect data from women in various roles at Pitt about their special concerns and that we review data on hiring and retention of women at all levels.  We should find examples of “best practices” in order to see what works.  We should provide better recognition for our women who are in senior administrative positions.  We should work on developing leadership programs for women.


Other models we might emulate

  • Pitt’s Spring 2001 Plenary.  This session on community service provides an excellent model of long term goals that go beyond the plenary event itself.
  • Duke University’s Women’s Initiative.  This was a project to examine the roles of women at Duke—much like our goals.  This report is available on the internet.
  • Are there other examples we could look at?


Short and long term activities for the planning committee. [Please contact the chair of this group if you are willing to help with this project.]

  • Formulate a statement of our overall goals for the plenary.  Lisa Brush will chair this effort.
  • Work on finding a major speaker.  Ann Sutherland Harris will chair this effort.
  • Developing a plan for the structure of the Plenary event itself.  We will also explore other dates for the Plenary.  Maureen Porter will chair this effort.
  • Look to the top 25 comparison universities identified in the Chancellor’s statement for examples of best practices to help the situation of women.  Kathryn Flannery will chair this effort.
  • Review existing data on the situation of women in administration, faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students.  Make recommendations about what areas are highest priorities.  This group may also help identify examples of best practices at Pitt.  Jean Carr will chair this effort.
  • Develop ideas about a program to help women develop leadership skills.  Audrey Murrell was identified as a possible chair of this effort.
  • Publicize whatever our committee eventually does on the web.  No committee was formed to work on this yet.


Future meetings.  Committee chairs will be asked to report at future meetings.  Our next meeting will be scheduled for late October.


Handouts at the Meeting.  Please contact Fran Czak if you need copies of any of these:

  • Chancellor Nordenberg’s statement to the University Community on “Looking Ahead:  Confronting Challenges and Seizing Opportunities,” dated September 9, 2003.
  • A resolution from the Board of Trustees on goals for the University of Pittsburgh for 2000-2005.
  • Information on the Office of Academic Career Development from the Health Sciences.




Prepared by Irene Hanson Frieze

September 29, 2003 draft