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July 8, 2004

Nordenberg Calls This Year one of Best in University’s History

Citing Pitt’s “amazing march forward,” Chancellor Mark Nordenberg touted this year’s accomplishments as among the greatest in the University’s history.

The chancellor reported to Pitt’s Board of Trustees June 25 that applications and student quality continue to “soar,” research funding support from the National Science Foundation and other sources is growing fast, and the $1 billion capital campaign is ahead of its goal for the year. (See sidebar on page XX.)

Despite some challenges, including a raid last year on Big East Conference members by a rival athletics conference and a state budget marked by a nearly six-month delay in passage that included a reduction in Pitt’s appropriations for the third consecutive year, “This was another good year for Pitt in terms of the benchmarks that we have customarily used to measure our progress,” Nordenberg told the trustees.

The chancellor pointed to:

* Increased applications. “In our benchmark year of 1995, we received just over 7,800 applications for admission to the freshman class here in Oakland,” Nordenberg said. “For this fall’s entering class, we received well over 18,800 applications, an increase of more than 140 percent since 1995 and an increase of more than 8 percent in the last year alone, a clear sign that we are maintaining our momentum.”

* Quality of students. Nordenberg compared 1995 students with this fall’s entering class. In 1995, 19 percent of the incoming Oakland freshmen graduated in the top 10 percent of their high school classes; for this year’s class, that number currently stands at 49 percent. Also in 1995, 39 percent of Oakland incoming freshmen ranked in the top 20 percent of their high school class; for this year’s class that number stands at 79 percent. In addition, in 1995, the average SAT score was 1110 for entering freshmen. For this year’s class, that number currently stands at 1237, the chancellor said.

* Research funding. “In 1995, we attracted more than $230 million in total research support. By 2003, that number had skyrocketed to $513 million, an increase of more than 123 percent,” Nordenberg said.

“Though our books for the current fiscal year will not be closed yet for a number of weeks, we are conservatively projecting that we will reach at least the $570 million mark this year,” he continued. That is nearly a 150 percent increase since 1995 and more than 11 percent over last year, he said.

“The expenditure of those dollars has permitted us to increase our own employment base by some 25 percent since 1995. It today supports, directly and indirectly, more than 16,500 local jobs, while also providing the principal hope for future economic growth in western Pennsylvania.”

* National Science Foundation (NSF) national ranking. In fiscal year 1997, Pitt ranked 20th in NSF rankings for federal science and engineering research and development support, according to Nordenberg. “In February 2000, we expressed the collective hope that by 2005 we might be able to rise to at least 16th in those ranks.”

The most recent rankings from the NSF have Pitt at No. 10, he noted.

* A healthy endowment. “In 1995, our endowment stood at $463 million,” Nordenberg reported. That rose to nearly $1.2 billion in 2003, and to $1.4 billion by the end of the current fiscal year’s third quarter, an increase of almost 200 percent since 1995, he said.

* Faculty, student and alumni awards. Pitt faculty in the past year won a number of prestigious national and international awards and recognition, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Achievement Award, and election to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of the Arts and Sciences, and the American Society of Clinical Investigators, among others, the chancellor reported.

Several Pitt alumni also were recognized for their achievements, including for earning a Nobel Prize and a Shaw Prize in Life Sciences and Medicine, Nordenberg pointed out.

Pitt students garnered every major academic competitive scholarship this year, including Truman, Udall and Marshall scholarships, and the University earned special Marshall Scholarship center designation, the chancellor noted. In other board business:

* Trustees voted to raise the student activities fee at the Pittsburgh campus for full-time, non-College of General Studies students from $60 to $80 per term, and for part-time, non-College of General Studies students from $18 to $24 per term, effective fall term 2004.

The board approved a similar increase for the graduate student activities fee, up from $10 to $20 for full-time students and from $5 to $10 for part-time students, also effective this fall. The Greensburg campus’s per term athletics fee was raised from $65 to $80 for full-time students, and from $13 to $16 for part-timers, effective this fall.

* The board approved a revised charter for the trustees audit committee to incorporate additional best practices as spelled out in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002. (See sidebar on page XX.)

* The board’s property and facilities committee reported on five major capital projects, totaling $38,864,000. The projects include renovating McCormick Hall ($4,171,000); building the Regional Bio-Containment Laboratory at the Bioscience Tower III, currently under construction ($23,351,000); renovating the Johnstown campus’s Hemlock Hall ($2,160,000); constructing new student housing at UPJ ($4,922,000), and building new student housing at the Bradford campus ($4,260,000).

-Peter Hart

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