Chancellor search may complicate process to replace provost


Provost Ann Cudd’s announcement last week that she is leaving Pitt to become president of Portland State University in Oregon will set off another high-level search for a replacement.

“I love Pittsburgh and this University, and I was honored to return to Pittsburgh in 2018 to serve as provost,” Cudd said this week. “It has taken a truly outstanding opportunity for me to make the very difficult decision to leave. Serving as president of Portland State University is just such a remarkable leadership opportunity.

“In addition to that, this move will bring me closer to family members on the West Coast and so I do feel that is also an important consideration as I accept this new challenge. I will always be thankful for the vital role Pitt has played in my life — in terms of my academic career and my personal life — and I will always be a proud alum.”

The ongoing search for a new chancellor — which the Board of Trustees timeline says will wrap up this spring — may complicate and delay the search for a new provost, who serves as Pitt’s chief academic officer.

The provost search process is under control of the chancellor’s office, but the provost must be separately elected by the Board of Trustees as an officer of the university. Outgoing Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said this week that the next chancellor will do the hiring of a new provost. 

According to the University Guidelines for Search Committees for Senior Academic Administrators, the selection of search committee members should include consultation with the executive committee of the University Senate and the constituencies to be served by a new administrator.

A search committee for provost can be up to 15 people — or more, if necessary — the guidelines say. The elected faculty members of the search committee will include:

  • Two from the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

  • Two from the professional schools of the provost’s area

  • One from the regional campuses

  • One from the Health Sciences area

At least one representative from the two tenured professorial ranks — professor and associate professor — must be included on the committee, and at least 50 percent of the committee must be faculty from the provost’s area.

The committee also will include one staff member appointed by Staff Council; one graduate student; one Arts and Sciences undergraduate student and one College of General Studies undergraduate student from the Oakland campus. Additional members of the search committee may be appointed by the chancellor to ensure diversity and equitable participation by affected areas.

What happens in the interim?

The past five provost transitions have involved the current officeholder announcing they would step down for a position on the faculty or retire after their replacement was found. For instance, James Maher announced in November 2009 that he planned to return to the Department of Physics and Astronomy faculty the following year after 16 years as provost. His successor, Patti Beeson, who was already serving as vice provost for graduate and undergraduate studies, was named in June 2010 and took over in August of that year.

Similarly, Beeson announced in November 2017 that she would return to the economics department faculty the following year. Cudd, who was then dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Boston University, was named to succeed her in June 2018 and started at Pitt in August 2018.

Cudd is scheduled to start at Portland on Aug. 1, but it’s unclear when her last day at Pitt will be. This doesn’t leave a lot of time to find her successor. Traditionally, searches for top executives at Pitt take several months. Also, the new chancellor will want to weigh in on the hire, even if the search starts before that person is named. This will likely mean an interim provost will need to be put in the position.

There are currently eight vice provosts, but only four are directly tied to academics — Joe McCarthy, undergraduate studies; Amanda Godley, graduate studies; Lu-in Wang, faculty affairs; and John Wallace, faculty diversity and development. Of these, McCarthy has the longest tenure in the provost’s office. He became vice provost in 2017, predating Cudd’s arrival by a year.

Also in the mix are Kenyon Bonner, vice provost of student affairs, and Steve Wisniewski, vice provost for budget and analytics, who both joined the provost’s office in 2015. The other two vice provosts are Marc Harding, who leads the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, and Lucy Russell, Cudd's chief of staff.

Cudd’s background

Cudd will be the 11th president of Portland State University.

In making the announcement on March 10, the Portland State Board of Trustees said, “Throughout the search process, Dr. Cudd stood out to the board for her deep commitment to academic and research excellence, community engagement, the vital importance of racial equity, and the powerful role that an urban-serving university can play in our region and in a renaissance for Portland.”

Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said in a statement that Cudd will be at Pitt through mid-summer. The Portland State announcement said that prior to her full-time appointment she will be making several visits to Portland.

In his message, Gallagher credited Cudd with launching the Pitt Success Pell Match program; establishing the Provost Academy, a summer bridge program to help students thrive in their first year at Pitt; overseeing two systemwide cluster-hire initiatives that are still underway; and hiring two regional campus presidents and four deans, including chairing the search that brought Anantha Shekhar to Pitt as senior vice chancellor for health sciences.

“Despite the inevitable feeling of loss that accompanies such a move,” Gallagher said, “Portland’s recruitment and selection of Ann — a successful leader and bright talent — is hardly unexpected.”

In a statement on the Portland State website, Cudd said, “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead this university. Portland State’s mission to Let Knowledge Serve the City and to open the doors of opportunity for students from all backgrounds aligns exactly with my core values and with the kind of work that I have done at the University of Pittsburgh. I am extremely excited to take on this role leading a university located in the middle of a beautiful, progressive city that has captured my heart.”

Pitt Senate President Robin Kear said she is “appreciative of Provost Cudd’s leadership in her time at Pitt, especially early on in her tenure in the area of education affordability through the Pell match program.”

Kear said Cudd also has shown vision in the areas of diversity and inclusion and made contributions to community-engaged scholarship and open educational resources.

“She has also communicated her vision through special appointments to the provost’s office in various areas including data science, sustainability, quantum education, digital education, and race and the social determinants of equity, health and well-being. These are all positive areas of focus for the University,” Kear said. “I wish Provost Cudd all the best in this new opportunity.”

Before her role at Boston University, Cudd was vice provost and dean of undergraduate studies at the University of Kansas. She earned three degrees from Pitt — master’s in economics and philosophy and a Ph.D. in philosophy — in the 1980s.

She was one of two finalists for the Portland State job. The school revealed the names of the finalists right before each candidate visited campus in early February. The other finalist was Kathy Johnson, executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer at Indiana University­–Purdue University Indianapolis. Cudd also was one of five finalists for the job of chancellor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison last year.

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at or 724-244-4042.


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