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March 8, 2018

Chancellor Addresses Parran Hall Review, Upcoming Budget at Senate Council

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher confirmed preparations for a committee review of Parran Hall’s name in his report at the Feb. 20 meeting of Senate Council. The review had been announced by Senate President Frank Wilson at Faculty Assembly’s Feb. 13 meeting.

The Graduate School of Public Health’s Parran Hall has generated questions because its name originates with Thomas Parran, Pitt Public Health’s first dean, who, before assuming his role at the University, was affiliated with the Tuskegee syphilis study, in which a large number of black men had syphilis that was left untreated. He was also connected to a similar study in Guatemala.

Gallagher said that the controversy regarding the name of the Pitt Public Health building is the first issue subject to the University’s particular review process for institutional concerns. According to the guidelines, this process is tailored toward fairly and objectively addressing complaints that impact the greater University community and that are not subject to existing policy and procedure. The review committee is inviting feedback from the greater University community about the Parran Hall review by email.

“I’m really pleased that the University had the forethought to have something in place to address these things in a thoughtful, systematic way,” he said.

As Senate leaders were making nominations in February for membership in the review committee of staff, faculty and students, graduate student organization leaders launched a petition effort calling for the renaming of the building.

Gallagher also previewed the Feb. 23 Board of Trustees meeting, where trustees would consider and vote on a proposal to convert Pitt–Titusville into a higher education hub.

Andy Stephany, president of Staff Council, shared his organization’s support of the hub during his report to the Senate, as did Wilson.

“I would commend the University for the effort and work for a long period of time now trying to figure out how we could avoid the thing that we all don’t want to see happen, which is closure, and I think that what’s emerging certainly sounds like a great opportunity for it to turn a bad story into the next chapter in why Pitt is the kind of university that it is,” said Wilson.

In other business, Gallagher shared that he would be in Harrisburg the following week (Feb. 28) for testimony for Pitt’s state appropriation. The governor’s proposed budget includes flat funding for the state-related universities.

Gallagher also referenced a U.S. House of Representatives committee’s attempt to reauthorize and update the Higher Education Act with a bill called the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity Through Education (PROSPER) Act. He cautioned that PROSPER would have negative consequences for low-income students and graduate students and criticized the closed process in which the effort took place in the House.

According to Gallagher, the bill lacks overwhelming support from the U.S. House: “In fact, I will tell you anecdotally that the support of the House is not comparatively strong as people started to understand what’s in that bill.”

More information about the Higher Education Act and its impact on the Pitt community is available at


Katie Fike,, 412-624-1085


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