Cudd preaches diversity in meeting with Staff Council


Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Ann Cudd, here just six months, told Staff Council on Feb. 20 that she “will be giving deans an incentive to widen their pools” for hiring more diverse faculty, especially African-Americans, Latinx and Native Americans.

“I’m really interested in diversity hiring,” she said in response to member questions about low levels of black students and faculty, as well as general diversity, on campuses.  “If we don’t have a diverse faculty and staff here, it doesn’t feel like it’s such a welcoming place.”

Asked about the need to attract more students from the city and the Western Pennsylvania region, Cudd responded: “That’s a real concern of mine as well. We are not attracting as many of our community members, especially African-Americans, as we would like.” While the University provides support for the top two members of each graduating class from Pittsburgh Public Schools to attend Pitt, “that’s a small number,” she acknowledged.

Cudd believes the Community Engagement Centers, now in Homewood and the Hill District, will help recruit a more diverse student body for the University. “That is a really important way to develop relationships and to show that the University really cares about Pittsburgh communities,” she said.

Has increased competition for spots in Pitt’s freshman classes, requiring better academic performance in high school, kept local students from Pitt?

“No, the average student can’t come here,” Cudd said. “We’re interested in the best and the brightest. We’re not getting all of the best and the brightest. They’re going off to other universities.”

She said her office was in the planning stage of “building pipelines from our community colleges. The two institutions that I was at before (Pitt) have a much larger transfer population than ours ...”

Responding to a request for more Pitt classes related to staff development, Cudd said “If we had a richer set of online courses,” this would be a good way to reach a broader set of staff — and alumni.

Explaining her role as the University’s chief academic officer, Cudd previewed what she labelled “a bold proposal in the space of need-based financial aid.” The Pitt Success Pell Match Program was announced shortly afterwards (see related story).

Cudd also termed the One Bigelow project — to build a new School of Computing and Information building and place other campus buildings near the corner of Bigelow Boulevard and Fifth Avenue, across from the Cathedral of Learning — “a generational project” akin to the construction of Hillman Library in the 1960s, or the Cathedral itself in the 1920s.

She said she was “keen to develop a public art strategy to compliment the campus plan” for more student housing and a new recreation center, “to stimulate thought and engage the community in a variety of ways.”

Cudd reminded the gathering that she has monthly open office hours — next from 8:30 to 10 a.m. March 21 — for anyone on the campus to meet with her to discuss any issues or concerns.

Marty Levine is a staff writer for the University Times. Reach him at or 412-758-4859.