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September 25, 2003

Baranger plans to retire after 44 years at Pitt

Vice Provost for Graduate Studies Elizabeth U. Baranger plans to retire next summer, after 44 years of service at Pitt.

“Officially, I’ll be retiring on July 1, but it could be that I will step down a little earlier or a little later than that, depending on when my replacement can begin,” said Baranger, who also is a professor of physics.

A Provost’s office committee is seeking Pitt tenured faculty members as candidates to succeed Baranger.

Baranger said she plans to remain in Pittsburgh after retiring, but hasn’t decided whether she wants to continue teaching or otherwise working at Pitt part-time. “I may be around the University doing some things,” Baranger said, “but I don’t have any plans at the moment.

“July seems like a long time away right now,” she added, with a laugh.

“I certainly will be traveling, and I have some grandchildren I want to see. There are all sorts of things that I have put off doing that I would love to have a chance to do.”

Baranger said she’s in good health and is retiring voluntarily. “I wouldn’t want anybody to think that there’s any reason for this [decision to retire] except that, really, I’m getting tired of working quite so hard.”

Baranger has been vice provost for graduate studies since 1989, and a professor of physics here since 1973. From 1973 to 1989, she was dean of graduate studies for the arts and sciences.

As vice provost, Baranger is responsible for encouraging high-quality graduate programs throughout the University. Working with committees of faculty, staff and graduate students, she establishes minimum standards and reviews and makes recommendations on proposals for new graduate and professional programs.
Baranger serves as a liaison to the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Women’s Concerns, one of several of her activities aimed at improving the status of women at Pitt. She recently chaired the committee that prepared the self-study required for Pitt’s re-accreditation by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
Recently, Baranger’s interests have included the use of the World Wide Web in graduate administration. She has led a working group on electronic theses and dissertations, coordinated the introduction of on-line applications in Pitt graduate schools and directed the redesign of the graduate studies web site.
Baranger, daughter of Nobel Prize-winning chemist Harold Clayton Urey, earned a Ph.D. in physics from Cornell and began her academic career in 1953 as a research associate at the California Institute of Technology. She came to Pitt as an instructor in 1955 and was promoted to the rank of assistant professor three years later. She worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1969 to 1973, and then returned to Pitt.

“It’s been an exciting experience, being an administrator and a professor here at the University of Pittsburgh,” Baranger said. “I’ve seen lots of changes. The University is certainly in good shape now, and under good leadership and going forward strongly.”

Her boss and fellow physicist, Provost James Maher, called Baranger “a superb theoretical physicist. As an administrator for the last 30 years, she’s always done a wonderful job, first as the graduate dean in the arts and sciences and, in more recent years, as vice provost for graduate studies. She’s really somebody the University can be very proud of.”

—Bruce Steele

Filed under: Feature,Volume 36 Issue 3

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