By DONOVAN HARRELL
Chancellor Patrick Gallagher is urging faculty to participate in the search process to fill Dr. Arthur Levine’s position.
Since Levine announced in January that he was stepping down from his roles as senior vice chancellor for health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine, the University has begun the process of finding someone to fill his roles.
Provost Ann Cudd will chair the search committee with Steve Shapiro, a professor in the School of Medicine and chief medical officer of UPMC, as vice chair.
The Senate Council set up the process for filling the position, Gallagher said. The senate will elect and appoint various members to the committee. He’s hoping that faculty participation will be high in this process.
“This is an important one,” Gallagher said. “I think it may be one of the critical searches for Pitt. A lot Pitt’s success has been from our health sciences and from our partnership with UPMC, so we want to do this right and I hope people will really pay attention.”
Nominations are being collected for faculty appointments to the search committee, and nominating committees have prepared slates of candidates for the election process. The Student Government Board and Staff Council will also make appointments through their own processes.
There are five faculty positions — two from the School of Medicine, two from the health sciences and one from the provost’s area. The election process is set to begin sometime next week, Gallagher said.
Cudd said the University is also planning to hire an outside search firm to help narrow the candidates down.
Gallagher is charged with appointing additional members to the committee to make sure Pitt has “a committee that represents all the needed viewpoints that we’ve got.” After all is said and done with selecting members, 50 percent of the committee must be made up of faculty from the health sciences, Gallagher added.
Levine will hold onto the position until the search process is complete, then he will open a new laboratory in the University’s Brain Institute, where he will pursue Alzheimer’s disease research.
Levine, who joined Pitt in 1998, is the highest-paid University officer with a base pay of $843,438 and total compensation of $1.2 million, according to Pitt’s 990 IRS form for the 2016-17 fiscal year.
Among Levine’s many achievements, Pitt’s medical school has ranked among the top 10 academic centers for research funding from the National Institutes of Health.
However, in a straw poll in the February Faculty Assembly, a majority of members said they wanted to see Levine’s position split between two candidates, citing ethical concerns.
Gallagher noted the importance of the poll but said that a decision to split the position ultimately would be made during the search committee process.
Once the committee is complete, it will host several “listening sessions” where the Pitt community will have a chance to comment during town halls and on a website. Cudd said she’s hoping to have these sessions before the end of the spring semester.
“Given the fact that Dr. Levine has been in that position so long, and that a lot has evolved, I do expect all the issues about the structure of the position to come up then,” Gallagher said.
“If there’s sufficient input that causes me to revisit the structure of the position …, we would separate it or do some other change. We’ll make that adjustment before we go to market. But I think ... this is the right vehicle to do it because we engage the entire University community. So, I’ll get the broadest input on that decision.”
Cudd said after having multiple discussions with department chairs and teams, who noted the pros and cons of splitting the position, that she expects it to remain one position.
“And it has worked out so well for us to this point,” Cudd said. “I think it’s probably unlikely that we would move in that direction.”
Since the search process is in its beginning stages, a concrete timeline has not been set yet. Cudd said a decision hasn’t been made on whether or not the candidates will be announced publicly, but she expects interviews to be conducted in “mid- to late-summer.”
Typically, Cudd added, search firms recommend that searches of this magnitude remain confidential to attract better candidates.
“It takes a little time to put together that position profile,” Cudd said. “You know, we haven’t done this in 20 years. And things have changed in 20 years.”
Gallagher said he’s “looking for a unicorn” to fill Levine’s roles, and he expects to receive strong candidates.
“My instinct is this is going to be, I think, one of the most desirable, if not, the most desirable, positions of its type,” Gallagher said. “And we should be attracting exceptional candidates, both from within the University of Pittsburgh and from outside.”
Donovan Harrell is a writer for the University Times. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-383-9905.