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June 26, 2014

Gallagher prepares for role of Pitt chancellor

Chancellor-elect Patrick D. Gallagher at the June 20 Board of Trustees meeting. Also pictured is trustees chairperson-elect Eva Tansky Blum.

Chancellor-elect Patrick D. Gallagher at the June 20 Board of Trustees meeting. Also pictured is trustees chairperson-elect Eva Tansky Blum.

Although he won’t officially become Pitt’s 18th chancellor until Aug. 1, Patrick D. Gallagher was an invited guest at the Board of Trustees June 20 meeting.

In comments following the meeting, board chairperson Stephen R. Tritch said, “We have a whole list of activities we are undertaking with Pat to get him ready to assume the role on Aug. 1, and even after he assumes the role, to still continue the transition.”

Gallagher, who resigned as director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology on June 13,  “is available and will be here for a number of events but he won’t be here fulltime,” said Tritch, adding that Gallagher will be spending time with his family this summer before he is “inundated” with the responsibilities of his new role at Pitt.

Tritch said he does not expect the change in University leadership to have a “dramatic effect” on the board’s priorities. The board, at its Feb. 28 meeting, endorsed an updated set of strategic priorities that align closely with those adopted in 1996. (See March 6 University Times.) “The board will be using those just like they did in (Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg’s) time to move forward with Pat Gallagher,” Tritch said.

He added that Gallagher recognizes Nordenberg’s “reservoir of talent and capability” and plans to draw on it for support.

Nordenberg said, “I have indicated to Chancellor Gallagher that I will be available to him if there are things that I can do that would be of help.” Gallagher already has met with senior members of Pitt’s leadership team, local business leaders and state and local elected officials, and has been introduced at alumni events.

“This isn’t something where we start on July 31. We have been trying to identify windows in his schedule, where he could be here or at some other place and really begin connecting with people — and talking with them in ways that will provide a good platform on Aug. 1,” said Nordenberg, who on Jan. 1 will assume the newly created position of chair of the University’s Institute of Politics.

Nordenberg said his continuing presence on campus isn’t likely to be a challenge to his successor. “He is a mature, accomplished professional who has moved through positions where he has dealt with predecessors on past occasions,” he said.

“I’ve had a very long run; leaving at this time was principally my decision. I think Pat is going to view me as an asset, not as a threat. If people don’t recognize that we’re different leaders with different strengths, then they’re being shortsighted.”

Nordenberg added: “Clearly there is a period of building relationships that is important to the institution’s success. Dr. Gallagher and I already have spent a full day together in Harrisburg, meeting with the governor and his senior staff, meeting with the four legislative caucuses. I think that there are ways that I will be of help to him in that regard.”

Nordenberg said, “There are lots of projects and problems that he will inherit from me and having me provide him with a sense of context — not telling him what to do, but telling him how we got to a particular place — probably would be important to him.”

The chancellor praised Gallagher’s skills and experiences as an asset both to the University community and the broader region, which “ought to be celebrating the fact that someone who has devoted his life to the applications of science and technology and the pursuit of commercial success and economic development is coming to the University of Pittsburgh.”

Nordenberg said, “It’s a great thing for Pittsburgh at this time. He’s been a champion in the federal government for advanced manufacturing issues, for example, that all of us are involved in now. He is recognized throughout the country for the contributions he’s made toward cybersecurity, something that is critically important to us.

“He is bringing a set of skills that permit him to do things I could not do or that I could not do nearly as well,” Nordenberg said.

Looking back on his accomplishments as chancellor, Nordenberg said he views the change in Pitt’s culture — with increased pride, ambition and connection — as a highlight of his tenure as chancellor.

“That’s the highest point for me because I think it can be a lasting foundation for so many good things to come.”

He added: “My goal through all of this has not been to make these years the best years for Pitt, but to put Pitt on a path where every year the University gets better.

“That’s what I hope for, for Pitt; that’s what I hope for, for Pat moving forward. I am prepared to help with that in any way that I can.”

—Kimberly K. Barlow