Skip to Navigation
University of Pittsburgh
Print This Page Print this pages

March 6, 2014

Nordenberg shares insights on new chancellor

gallagher nordenbergThe transition to new leadership at Pitt is moving forward following the selection of Patrick D. Gallagher to succeed Mark A. Nordenberg as chancellor and Pitt’s chief executive officer on Aug. 1.

Nordenberg offered his insights in his Feb. 26 Senate Council report. “Our interactions moving through the very earliest stages of a transition since his election all have been very positive,” the chancellor said of Gallagher.

“My sense of Pat is that he is a very accomplished, highly principled person, with good values, well-developed communication skills and a warm and respectful human touch. He also will bring a new set of experiences and abilities to the chancellor’s position,” Nordenberg said. “In short, there’s every reason to believe that under his leadership the strengths that we have built will be nurtured and they will be extended in new and appropriate ways.

“Consistent with the traditions of the academy, I was largely insulated from the search for my successor,” Nordenberg said.

“Over the course of the past few years, though, I have come to know Pat Gallagher reasonably well because he is a distinguished graduate of the University, having earned his PhD in physics here and because he is sufficiently accomplished that we have been regularly inviting him back.”

Gallagher, who is acting deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce and director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, was Pitt’s 2013 commencement speaker. He presented the keynote address at the 2012 dedication of mid-campus labs for quantum computing and nanoscience, and delivered the provost lecture at the University’s Science 2010 symposium. (See Oct. 14, 2010, University Times.)

Gallagher earned his PhD in physics at Pitt in 1991. Last year he was among the recipients of the University’s 225th anniversary medallions, “reflecting our respect for the ways in which his own work had extended the University’s tradition of building better lives,” Nordenberg said. (See Nov. 8, 2012, University Times.)

Nordenberg also reported on recent University achievements, noting that Pitt appeared among the Kiplinger’s 100 best value public universities and the Princeton Review/USA Today 75 best value colleges. “What is the underpinning for each of these rankings is that the institutions listed are institutions that are delivering high values of quality while also maintaining some level of affordability,” Nordenberg said.

“Clearly we’re not on that list because we’re a low-cost provider. We’re on that list because we are delivering high quality and because there is a sense that the investments made in a University of Pittsburgh education are going to produce a good return.”

Nordenberg was part of a panel of leaders from Pennsylvania’s state-related universities (Pitt, Penn State, Temple and Lincoln) who testified Feb. 25 before the state House of Representatives and Senate appropriations committees as part of the state’s annual budget process. (See related story this issue.)

“The tone of both of these sessions was both cordial and positive,” Nordenberg told Senate Council. “I would say that we’ve come a long way in the last couple of years in terms of the initial reactions of members of the legislature who genuinely seem to believe that we were deserving of higher levels of support. Remember, they really have helped us hold the line in the last two years — no more cuts.”

Noting that he would be joining students as they kicked off their own advocacy efforts later in the day, Nordenberg said, “This year, we’re starting out with a proposal for flat funding. Our hope, of course, is that we might get something more. Unfortunately, it does not appear that the revenue streams flowing into the state treasury in Harrisburg are flowing as freely as we might like, but still, for those of us who believe in higher education and believe in the mission of the University of Pittsburgh, whatever we think the odds are of accomplishing anything significant this year, we really do need to keep advancing the cause.”

In other business:

• Following Faculty Assembly’s lead, Senate Council approved a bylaws committee recommendation to permit some committee votes to be taken electronically, and agreed with the Senate athletics committee’s recommendation against creating a Senate athletics representative, as proposed by the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics. (See Feb. 20 University Times.) Both measures passed unanimously.

Background documents are posted on the Senate website at

• Senate President Michael Spring relayed a request from plant utilization and planning (PUP) committee chair Pat Weiss for feedback on concerns and suggestions related to rooms, scheduling and classroom media. Comments will be used to inform and structure an upcoming presentation to PUP by the University registrar. Weiss can be reached at

• Spring encouraged faculty to attend the Senate’s 2014 spring plenary session, “The Research University in the Age of Digital Information,” set for noon-3 p.m. March 19 in the William Pitt Union Assembly Room. Seven faculty members have been invited to make presentations on the use of digital technology.

“We really hope that this exposition and faculty commentary during the plenary and after the plenary will inform and help us understand these new approaches to instruction, research and entrepreneurship,” Spring said, noting that participants will be using some interactive technologies during the plenary session. The event will be streamed live and archived via MediaSite.

Spring also commended the Staff Association Council for its University benefits seminar series. “It’s just a phenomenal service to staff and faculty,” he said, noting that he had attended two of the programs this year.

The next session, on flexible spending accounts,  is set for noon March 20 in the William Pitt Union Assembly Room.

—Kimberly K. Barlow