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July 6, 1995

Zoffer to step down as Katz dean

H J. Zoffer, whose 27-year tenure as dean of the Katz Graduate School of Business makes him the longest-serving dean of a major U.S. business school, last week announced that he will retire as early as next June if a successor is found by then.

After stepping down as dean, Zoffer will remain as dean emeritus to help with fund raising for Pitt's new undergraduate College of Business Administration (CBA). When the drive is finished, Zoffer said, he plans to return to teaching and research.

"I don't view this as any more than a statement that even old war horses get depreciated after a while," Zoffer said this week. "In about two weeks, I'll be 65 years old. That's a pretty standard time for retiring as a dean at this University. And actually, I won't be retiring for at least another year." In a June 30 letter to business school faculty, Zoffer said "this is a particularly appropriate time" for him to retire. "The school is at an important crossroads as the new undergraduate program begins. New and different ideas are called for," he wrote.

In an interview, Zoffer cited additional factors that made his retirement announcement well-timed: the Katz school's adoption of a new MBA curriculum this year, a plan to revive the fund-raising campaign for the undergraduate business college this fall, and the transition this summer in Pitt's top leadership.

Zoffer said he has "tremendous respect" for Interim Chancellor Mark Nordenberg, whom he called "a good friend as well as a long-time fellow dean here." Nordenberg was interim and later permanent dean of Pitt's law school from 1985 to 1993.

New Board of Trustees Chairperson J. Wray Connolly has served for years on the Katz school's Board of Visitors, Zoffer noted. "He's been a good friend of the school, and three of his sons earned their M.B.A.s here," the dean said.

Zoffer predicted that Chancellor J. Dennis O'Connor's resignation and replacement by Nordenberg, effective Aug. 1, will benefit the CBA campaign — partly by removing recent uncertainty over O'Connor's status but also because "Chancellor O'Connor's views on some issues were in disagreement with the views of many in the local business and philanthropic communities," Zoffer said.

Most notably, some potential donors disagreed with O'Connor's support of the Pitt policy providing fringe benefits to homosexual partners of University employees, according to the dean.

In fall 1993, the Pitt trustees who served as chairperson and co-chairperson of the CBA fund-raising drive resigned from the campaign, saying the Univer-sity's same-sex benefits policy would cost the campaign millions of dollars in contributions.

Pitt officials denied that charge but suspended the campaign and later postponed CBA's opening from fall 1994 to fall 1995. Construction has not yet begun on the new CBA building, which is scheduled to open by fall 1997. (CBA students who begin the program this fall will take their first two years of classes in existing Pitt buildings.) Zoffer said the University has raised about $1.6 million toward the $30 million CBA campaign goal.

"We're hoping to re-establish the campaign this fall, with a new chairman and co-chairman and a new steering committee," he said.

Zoffer said he will continue to put in a full work week as a CBA fund raiser upon retiring as dean. "The difference will be that I'll be traveling a lot less than I do as dean and I'll have more control over my schedule. I'll have more time to spend with my wife and my grandchildren." Zoffer earned his B.B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Pitt and joined the faculty here in 1956. He held several teaching and administrative jobs, including director of special studies and associate dean for administration, before becoming dean of the business school in 1968.

A past president of the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business and the American Association of University Administrators, Zoffer has written articles and books on social responsibility of business, corporate risk analysis and continuing education for managers.

Pitt officials said the search for Zoffer's successor will begin Sept. 1.

Provost James Maher, in a written statement, said: "Under the able leadership of Dean Zoffer, the Katz Graduate School of Business has developed into one of the most respected business schools in the country. I am delighted that Dean Zoffer will remain as dean emeritus to lead the fund raising effort for the undergraduate college of business, and I am equally delighted that once that task is finished, he will be returning to the classroom to share his wisdom and his experience with the students." — Bruce Steele

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