Gallagher tells board that Pitt is moving in the right direction


Chancellor Patrick Gallagher gave an upbeat report on the state of the University at the Sept. 24 meeting of the Board of Trustees.

Before the report, members had a moment of silence to honor of those in the Pitt community who have passed away recently, including Frederick Humphries, a Pitt graduate, scholar and former president of Florida A&M University. Humphries earned his doctorate in chemical engineering in 1964 and served as a member of the board from 1992 to 1996. Humphries passed away on June 24.

Louis Cestello, vice chairman of the Board of Trustees, praised Humphries for his achievements and dedication to improving the lives of members of marginalized communities.

“Dr. Humphries was respected throughout the United States and internationally for his keen insights in the education of Black and underrepresented students, particularly in math and the natural sciences, and his unique and visionary approaches to producing successful educational outcomes. Dr. Humphries will be greatly missed.”

Later in the meeting, Gallagher’s report highlighted several institutional achievements, including:

  • The Pitt Success Pell Match Program, which has seen 39 percent growth in first-year students in this program since its 2019 introduction. 

  • Pitt CoVax, which has administered more than 20,000 shots this year.

  • A 2.3 percent increase in graduate student enrollment and a 4.2 percent increase in undergraduate student enrollment since fall 2020

  • A 26 percent increase in alumni giving

  • Pitt invested $331.2 million into the Pennsylvania economy since the start of the pandemic

Gallagher thanked the Pitt community for their resilience in the face of all the challenges posed by the pandemic after detailing the latest numbers from the COVID-19 Medical Response Office (see related story).

“We’re here, after all, to solve the hard problems. And more importantly, to be part of the solutions,” Gallagher said. “The members of this community — I’ve seen them at their very best this year — don’t wring their hands and give up. They have a very expansive vision for what a university is, what a community is, and they’re very quick to reach out, join with others, and expand their efforts to make this a better place.”

The board also heard reports from the Student Affairs and Property committees on actions taken in July on increasing student fees and new construction on the Greensburg and Bradford campuses and at Alan Magee Scaife Hall.

The only action taken at the meeting was the election of Robert Hernandez and Jack Smith as emeritus trustees. Those selected for this role have demonstrated exceptional contributions to the progress and welfare of the  University over at least 10 years of service.

Hernandez is a 1966 magna cum laude graduate in economics and mathematics who served on the Board of Trustees from 2002-20. He spent his career at USX Corp, ending as vice chairman and CFO in 2001. Smith completed his residency in orthopedics at Pitt in 1978. An orthopedic surgeon, he was in private practice in Greensburg until 2007, when he joined Excela Health as chairman of the department of orthopedic surgery. He is past-president of the Pitt Alumni Association and served on the Board of Trustees as an alumni trustee from 2012 through 2020.

The full meeting can be viewed on Pitt’s YouTube channel.

Donovan Harrell is a writer for the University Times. Reach him at or 412-383-9905.


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