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Point Park faculty to gauge members' confidence in university president

Debra Erdley
| Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, 12:15 p.m.
Point Park University President Paul Hennigan addresses students, faculty and members of the media during a beam signing event held at University Center in Downtown Pittsburgh on Nov. 30, 2016.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Point Park University President Paul Hennigan addresses students, faculty and members of the media during a beam signing event held at University Center in Downtown Pittsburgh on Nov. 30, 2016.

Point Park University's faculty will hold a vote of confidence or no confidence in university President Paul Hennigan on Wednesday, five days before the start of the fall semester.

A faculty spokeswoman said nearly 140 full-time members are expected to vote, either in person or by proxy.

The vote includes seven potential grievances, each of which will be subject to an individual vote. At issue are claims that Hennigan has failed to retain an acceptable ratio of full- to part-time faculty, has failed to advance diversity and has failed to respond “to the needs and welfare of students at the university, including those students who are unprepared for college.”

The vote comes as faculty — represented by the Newspaper Guild of Pittsburgh, CWA Local 38061 — and the administration are in the midst of protracted contract negotiations that began in March 2016. A union spokesman said academic freedom, workload, salary and tenure are among the issues on the table.

“Point Park University is aware of a faculty assembly meeting scheduled for later this week,” Lou Corsaro, managing director of marketing and public relations, said in a statement.

“In response to a statement issued earlier today by a faculty member, the university takes great pride in its Center for Student Success, which provides academic support and academic advising to students,” Corsaro said. “The (center) includes Brad Thompson, coordinator for disability services.”

The university, which enrolls about 4,100 students in Downtown Pittsburgh, has seen enrollment grow by about 15 percent in the past decade as it embarked on a major building program.

“This week, President Paul Hennigan, along with the faculty, staff and administration, are focused on the beginning of a new academic year,” Corsaro said. “More than 4,000 students are returning to campus ready to begin their college career here in Pittsburgh.”

Midweek, 30 student leaders will join Hennigan on a 15-mile team-building bike ride focused on the city's history. On Thursday, student leaders will join faculty, staff and Hennigan to assist one of Point Park's largest freshman classes as students move into on-campus housing, Corsaro said.

Hennigan has led Point Park since 2006.

Debra Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-320-7996, or via Twitter @deberdley_trib.

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