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October 10, 2013

Nationwide forums, survey provide input for chancellor search

University community members have spoken out — via online surveys and in public forums — on Pitt’s future and the traits they desire in its next chancellor.

“You’ve given us the building blocks for Superman. That’s really what we’re looking for,” quipped trustee and chancellor search committee member Jack D. Smith at the conclusion of the Oct. 2 forum at Pitt-Greensburg. “It’s going to be the challenge of the committee to come up with the best candidates we can find to advance to the board to be the next chancellor.”

A series of 14 forums — seven on Pitt’s five campuses and seven in cities nationwide — concluded last week. Faculty, staff, students and alumni commented on the challenges they see Pitt facing and the qualities and experiences they’d like to see in the successor to Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg, who will retire next Aug. 1.

Off-campus meetings were held in Atlanta; Durham, N.C.; Houston; New York City; Philadelphia; San Francisco, and Washington D.C., cities where the University has a strong alumni base. Most of those forums drew 20-35 attendees, said Kenneth Service, vice chancellor for University communications.

He told the University Times that the out-of-town events yielded similar themes to comments expressed in the on-campus forums.

Among the challenges and opportunities participants saw were: continuing Pitt’s progress in academic and research achievement; dealing with the economic squeeze created by inadequate state government funding and pressures to keep tuition down, and continuing to get the word out about the university that Pitt is today.

The main traits they desire include being hard-working and having integrity and honesty; valuing the Pitt culture while being willing to risk and experiment with new ideas that are required in the changing higher-education landscape, and being student-focused.

The committee continues to solicit input via a chancellor search survey posted at

A 20-page prospectus, including a job description informed in part by forum participants’ input, also is posted on the chancellor search web page. The prospectus outlines opportunities and challenges the next chancellor may face and lists four key areas in which candidates must demonstrate success: aspirational and visionary leadership; inclusive and collaborative management; engaging advocacy and fundraising, and championing excellence and innovation in academics and research.

Search firm Storbeck/Pimentel and Associates is receiving nominations, inquiries and applications for the position at The prospectus asks candidates to forward their materials by Nov. 15 “for best consideration.”

—Kimberly K. Barlow

Filed under: Feature,Volume 46 Issue 4

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