Staff Handbook: Introduction

About the University of Pittsburgh Staff Handbook

This handbook is intended for use by staff members of the University of Pittsburgh, except for those who are covered by separate policies and procedures in collective bargaining agreements. Many sections of this handbook summarize more detailed policies and benefits documents.

See the University Policy Manual, Procedure Manual, and Standard Practice Instructions (SPI) Manual for the official and current information on the Office of Policy Development and Management website.

This handbook is designed as an informational document and does not constitute or reflect a contract. The information contained herein supersedes all previously published staff handbooks and is subject to change at the discretion of the University. University policies and procedures, which may be updated and approved subsequent to the publication of this document, will take precedence over the contents of this handbook. To ensure that you have the most current information, you may contact your supervisor, access current policies and procedures and this handbook on the University of Pittsburgh website, or call Employee Relations within the Office of Human Resources at 412-624-7000.

The University values your opinions about your work environment. Please communicate them to your supervisor or another pertinent administrator.

The University of Pittsburgh

The University of Pittsburgh was founded as the Pittsburgh Academy in a log cabin in 1787, 11 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It achieved university status in 1819. During its 1966 session, the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania formally recognized the University of Pittsburgh as an integral part of the system of higher education in Pennsylvania and designated it a state-related university. The University amended its charter to reflect this designation and changed its official name to University of Pittsburgh—of the Commonwealth System of Higher Education.

A state-related, nonsectarian institution, the University receives an annual appropriation from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and income from endowment, tuition, gifts, grants, sponsored research, clinical activities, and private sources. The state-related universities—which also include Pennsylvania State University, Temple University, and Lincoln University—are legal instruments of the Commonwealth as specified by statute. Each also possesses a separate, nonprofit corporate charter and is governed by a separate Board of Trustees, fully accountable for the operation of the institution.

The Pittsburgh campus consists of more than 90 academic, research, and administrative buildings and residence halls. It is located on a 132-acre site three miles from the city’s business center and is adjacent to 450 acres of rolling parks. Nearby are concert halls, museums, theaters, research institutes, book stores, art galleries, restaurants, churches, and playgrounds. Other institutions of higher education located nearby include Carlow University, Carnegie Mellon University, Chatham University, and Duquesne University. Medical education, research, and patient care come together at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), which includes UPMC Presbyterian, UPMC Montefiore, Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, the Eye & Ear Institute, the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, UPMC St. Margaret, UPMC South Side, UPMC Shadyside, UPMC Passavant, UPMC Beaver Valley, and several other hospitals. UPMC works closely with the six schools of the health sciences at the University.

In addition to the Pittsburgh campus, the University has regional campuses in Bradford, Greensburg, and Johnstown, PA.


Board of Trustees

The University of Pittsburgh Board of Trustees is responsible for advancing the purposes of the University; promoting and protecting its independence, academic freedom, and integrity; and enhancing and preserving its assets for the benefit of future generations of students and society at large. Trusteeship is a public trust, and the trustees bear responsibility for the financial and academic development of the University, for overseeing the management of its resources, and for ensuring that the University meets its obligations to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and to society in general.

The Board of Trustees delegates general administrative, academic, and management authority to the chancellor and chief executive officer of the University. The board retains ultimate responsibility for all University affairs, however, and reserves its authority directly in at least three areas: selection of a chancellor and chief executive officer; approval of major institutional policies, particularly those related to the fiduciary responsibilities of the board; and definition of the mission and goals of the University.

The Board of Trustees is composed of 36 voting members consisting of the chancellor and chief executive officer; 17 term trustees elected by the board; six alumni trustees elected by the board, on nominations by the Pitt Alumni Association Board of Directors; and 12 commonwealth trustees, four each appointed by the governor, the president pro tempore of the Senate, and the speaker of the House. There is, in addition, a class of 15 special trustees elected by the Board of Trustees. They may attend all meetings of the board and are entitled to exercise all rights, responsibilities, and privileges of trusteeship, except the right to vote at board meetings. The Board of Trustees includes the governor of Pennsylvania, the secretary of education, the chief executive of Allegheny County, and the mayor of the City of Pittsburgh, all four of whom are nonvoting, ex officio trustees.


The University of Pittsburgh is an institution of higher learning and research in which policy is shaped with the involvement of trustees, administrators, faculty, staff, and students. An environment of collegiality permits individuals and groups to share information and express views in an open and responsive manner. Consultation and consensus building are important means for approaching decisions, especially in academic matters.

The chancellor is the chief academic and administrative officer of the University and is responsible to the board as the interpreter of the public interest and as the representative of the administration, faculty, staff, and students. The chancellor’s deputies in guiding instruction and research are the executive vice chancellor, the provost, the senior vice chancellor for the health sciences, the presidents of the regional campuses, the deans of the various schools and faculties, the department chairs, and the directors of University centers and institutes. The chancellor, the provost, the senior vice chancellor for the health sciences, the deans, and the regional campus presidents are recruited and selected in accordance with procedures that involve representative members of the faculty and staff as well as student leaders.

Other principal administrative officers of the University include the executive vice chancellor, the vice chancellor for student affairs, the vice chancellor for institutional advancement, general counsel and secretary of the Board of Trustees.

Advisory Bodies

The University Senate

The Senate of the University of Pittsburgh is an official University body for shared governance. Members include the chancellor, certain administrative officers, and faculty as well as students, staff, and members of the Senate Council and Senate Standing Committees.

Staff Council

The Staff Council is an official University organization for shared governance composed of elected representatives from classified University staff not covered by a collective bargaining agreement. Staff Council maintains an important communication link between staff members and the administration and makes recommendations to the University administration on matters of general University concern, particularly staff-related issues. If you have a concern or wish to talk to a Staff Council representative, please call the Staff Council office at 412-624-4236 or access the Staff Council website.

Other Organizations

There are a number of organizations and task forces dedicated to advising and/or advocating a specific issue, e.g., Equipoise/African American issues (412-624-4292) and Provost’s Advisory Committee on Women’s Concerns (PACWC) (412-624-9246).