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June 26, 2003

One Pitt trustee notes a dearth of women among the new and re-elected trustees

“Can anybody here tell me what’s missing?” Catherine D. DeAngelis asked her fellow Pitt trustees as she scanned the names of 17 people they had just named to the executive committees of Pitt’s Board of Trustees and the UPMC Board of Directors.

“Women?” someone suggested, after an awkward pause.

“Ah, thank you,” DeAngelis said. “Just pointing it out. There are no women” among the 17 individuals.

“It’s 2003, right? I looked at my watch,” said DeAngelis, a 1969 graduate of Pitt’s medical school who was elected to the Board of Trustees last year.

DeAngelis is the first woman editor-in-chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association. “I’m tired of being the first woman everything,” she joked with reporters following the June 19 trustees meeting.

“Please, I’m casting no aspersions on the people elected or the people sitting around the table,” DeAngelis added. “I respect and admire them very much. The point is, there are also equally qualified women and I think their perspective is important.”

On a campus where 52 percent of this year’s 17,910 undergraduates are women (the percentage of women students is even higher at Pitt’s four regional campuses), it’s time to recruit more female leaders, said DeAngelis.

Seven of Pitt’s 50 trustees are women, and two of the board’s 14 committees are chaired by women. Suzanne W. Broadhurst, who chairs the institutional advancement committee, is the only woman on the board’s 10-member executive committee.

Pitt’s board is not unusual in being overwhelmingly male, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. Spokespersons for Pennsylvania’s two other state-related research universities cited the following numbers:

• Penn State’s 32 voting trustees include six women, and two women serve on the PSU board’s nine-member executive committee.

• Temple University’s 35-member board includes two women, and one member of the Temple board’s 16-member executive committee is female.

At a news conference following the June 19 Pitt trustees meeting, Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg said that neither he nor newly elected board chairperson Ralph J. Cappy “would suggest that there isn’t room for a great deal of additional progress” in diversifying Pitt’s board.

“On the other hand, if you look at the elections to the board that have been made over the course of the last couple of years, you will see that there has been a real emphasis on diversity, including getting larger numbers of women involved. Dr. DeAngelis is one example,” Nordenberg said.

Pitt’s 50-member board includes seven women and nine African Americans, said Robert Hill, Pitt vice chancellor for Public Affairs.

— Bruce Steele

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