Blum, Shekhar named to lead search committee for new chancellor

By SUSAN JONES

New Board of Trustees Chair Doug Browning has named a former chair and the head of Pitt’s health sciences to lead the search committee for a new chancellor.

Eva Tansky Blum, who served from 2015-20 as Pitt’s first female Board of Trustees chair, will lead the committee, and Anantha Shekhar, senior vice chancellor for health sciences, will be vice chair, according to Geovette Washington, senior vice chancellor and chief legal officer who is with the search process.

Patrick Gallagher, Pitt’s 18th chancellor, announced in April that he will step down in summer 2023. He plans to transition to faculty as a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Blum (A&S '70, Law '73) also chaired the search committee that brought Gallagher to Pitt in 2014, when she was vice chair of the Board of Trustees. Blum, a retired lawyer who spent 35 years at PNC Financial Services, was first elected to the trustees in 2004.

In an interview this week, Gallagher said he felt Blum had “a great touch” with the very diverse group of faculty, staff, students and alumni that selected him, although he admitted he was a bit biased.

“Her love of Pitt really is one of Eva’s big strengths, and that was the common thing that everybody shared,” Gallagher said. “And I think it just kept that committee really working well together. … I think she enjoys the trust and confidence of the board. I think she's earned the trust and confidence of the University community.”

David Gau, a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Bioengineering, also served on the 2013 committee when he was president of Pitt’s Graduate and Professional Student Government. He remembered the committee as being very efficient and organized. Gau said he felt he and the representative from the undergraduate Student Government Board had equal voices to everyone else on the committee.

“And I recall, during discussions that members even directly asked us if we were kind of sitting there quiet,” he said.

Gau, who also got his undergraduate degree at Pitt, thinks the next chancellor needs to come in with ideas for the next five-year Plan for Pitt, after the current plan runs its course in 2026. He also thinks Gallagher’s successor needs to be focused on state funding — “someone who's very comfortable working with state legislators, especially in today's climate; someone who's willing to do that and good at doing that.”

Washington said the chancellor search will roughly follow the same design as the 2013 search to find a replacement for Mark Nordenberg. That committee included five faculty members, one staff representative and two students, along with several administrators and trustees.

The next step is to hire a search firm to assist in the process. Washington said that process is moving forward, adding that the full search committee would not likely be named until September.

Pitt faculty will elect five members to serve on the committee, with representatives selected from different areas of the University — one each from the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences, the professional schools in the provost’s area, the School of Medicine, the other health science schools and the regional campuses. See the full slate below.

A message sent to faculty by Senate President Robin Kear said voting would begin Sept. 6 and end Sept. 15 for these committee positions. Based on rules from the University’s Guidelines for Search Committees for Senior Academic Administrators, faculty may vote only for candidates within their specific schools/units. Anyone interested in the job had to submit their name by Aug. 22. Candidates also can be added to the slate by petition if they get at least 5 percent of the eligible voting faculty to sign their petition.

“Due to the importance of the search and the extreme time commitment that will be required,” Kear said, “any potential candidate who will be on leave from the campus for the coming academic year cannot serve on the search committee.

The staff representative for the last search was the Staff Council president. That could be complicated this year because its president, Angie Coldren, is stepping down (see related story).

Committee leaders also will look at the best way to get community input on factors important to the chancellor search. During the 2013-14 search, 14 forums were held — three on the Pittsburgh campus, one each at the regional campuses and seven at U.S. cities where alumni could contribute — and a survey was distributed. No decisions have been made about forums or surveys for this search.

Slate for faculty representatives on search committee

Arts & Sciences

1. Chris Bonneau, political science

2. Felix Germain, Africana studies

3. Michael Goodhart, political science

4. Lara Putnam, history

5. Lise Vesterlund, economics

Health sciences

1. Marian Jarlenski, public health

2. Jeremy Martinson, public health

3. Debbie Miller, SHRS

4. Pamela Tisot, dental medicine

5. Alexandre Viera, dental medicine

6. Ashley Yarabinec, pharmacy

Provost’s professional schools

1. Larry Feick, business

2. Robin Kear, ULS

3. Sera Linardi, GSPIA

4. Tomar Pierson-Brown, law

5. Piero Rizzo, engineering

Regional campuses

1. Jeff Guterman, Bradford, communication

2. Janet Grady, Johnstown, nursing

3. Lori Jakiela, Greensburg, English

4. Olivia Long, Greensburg, biochemistry

School of Medicine

1. Michael Becich, biomedical informatics

2. Zachary Freyberg, psychiatry

3. Sarah Gaffen, medicine

4. Pradeep Raamana, radiology

5. Doris Rubio, medicine

If you have questions about the election process, contact Senate director Lori Molinaro at lam06@pitt.edu.

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at suejones@pitt.edu or 724-244-4042.

 

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