Gallagher tells board the University is weathering the pandemic


Chancellor Patrick Gallagher started his report to the Board of Trustees on Feb. 26 by reflecting on how much has happened in the past year and how Pitt is handling the pandemic.

He said that the spring term is off to a very good start, with a limited number of new cases on Pitt’s campuses.

“I think what we can conclude from this data that communication works, and that students and faculty and staff really understand the expectations and understand what it takes to effectively lower the risk of transmission of this virus,” he said.

Graph on donations to Pitt

His report also included an update on philanthropic giving to Pitt during fiscal year 2021. Unlike some other institutions, Pitt has seen an increase in giving of 8 percent for fiscal year 2021, with $60 million coming in gifts of $1 million or more. Just this week, Henry L. Hillman Foundation gave $25 million to the University to help grow a regional life sciences cluster, and a record number of donors gave during Pitt Day of Giving.

While losses and costs associated with the pandemic have been substantial — include $64 million from reduced housing demand and leasing of hotel space — the University has made some one-time and some permanent cuts to help offset this. Money received from the federal government has gone both to direct student aid and to defray institutional expenses.

Graph on budget losses

Gallagher also reported that the number of applications Pitt is receiving for first-year students entering in fall 2021 is up 4.6 percent and has already set a new record.

But he noted that graduate and professional programs have seen a decrease of 5 percent over the past several years, while the average for other AAU institutions is an increase of 9 percent. The graduate and certificate programs at Pitt have had an enrollment decline of 16 percent from 2011 to 2018.

Graph on Pitt grad program enrollment

“These trends, of course, are not good and, frankly, they're not acceptable,” the chancellor said. He said a strong and growing graduate program “is a fundamental part of our mission. We are a comprehensive research-intensive university. Our global reputation is staked on the quality and breadth of our graduate and professional programs and not solely on our undergraduate programs.”

He said plans are underway now to focus on growing these programs and they will be included in the strategic Plan for Pitt, which he will debut for the board in June.

Other Board of Trustees actions:

  • The board took a few minutes at the beginning of the meeting to read a resolution that was passed in the fall expressing their appreciation to faculty, staff, students, health care workers, senior officers and Chancellor Gallagher for their response to the unprecedented global pandemic.

  • Mary Ellen Callahan, assistant general counsel, Walt Disney Company, and Louis R. Cestello, head of Regional Markets for PNC, were elected vice chairpersons.

  • David DeJong was approved as senior vice chancellor for Business & Operations, an officer position at the University.

The full Board of Trustees meeting can be viewed on YouTube.

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


Have a story idea or news to share? Share it with the University Times.

Follow the University Times on Twitter and Facebook.