Former Dietrich dean stepping down from Pitt Research post

N. John Cooper is stepping down as Pitt’s deputy vice chancellor for research, effective Aug. 1.

Headshot of bald manCooper, who was dean of the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences from 1998 to 2017, began working with Rob Rutenbar in 2018 to establish the Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor for Research, now known as Pitt Research.

He established the Dietrich School as a world leader in philosophy and strengthened many other disciplines, especially through $250 million in renovations and new construction in support of teaching labs, the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences.

“John brought decades of institutional knowledge and expertise to integrate the major units that support the diverse research enterprise here,” Rutenbar, senior vice chancellor for research, told Pittwire. “John understood inherently what was needed to help all of us collaborate to support research faculty and staff.

Cooper was instrumental in promoting arts and humanities research and is a staunch advocate for interdisciplinary advancement.

Cooper said that one of his strengths in helping Rutenbar to build the new office came from his 35 years at Pitt. He joined the University in 1986 as professor of chemistry after more than a decade on the faculty at Harvard University. He served as chair of Pitt’s chemistry department from 1989 to 1994.

“I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with so many talented people to make Pitt a better university for our faculty and students. And it has been fun — I have learned so much from colleagues at all levels,” Cooper said.

He plans to retire after taking the last few months of an administrative leave he earned as dean.

In recognition of his service, Cooper was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree in 2017 and appointed Distinguished Service Professor of Chemistry in 2018.

“John has made extraordinary contributions to our chemistry department, to the Dietrich School and to the University of Pittsburgh as a whole,” Pitt Chancellor Emeritus Mark Nordenberg said. “I had the privilege of working closely with him during his long and distinguished tenure as dean. In everything that John did, he was committed to the highest standards of quality, and his approach to his work combined good cheer and tireless determination.”

Read more about Cooper in Pittwire.