Gallagher tells Senate Council that regional president searches making progress


Chancellor Patrick Gallagher told the Senate Council on March 20 that searches for Pitt’s regional campus presidents are underway and that he’s taking his time in examining Pitt’s extreme weather policy. He also announced the creation of a new Public Safety Council and the new chair for the ad hoc committee examining Pitt’s smoke and tobacco policy.

Gallagher said the University is expecting to conclude the searches for a chief information officer and a new president at Pitt-Bradford/Titusville sometime this spring.

Sharon P. Smith announced her retirement as president of Pitt-Greensburg last year, and will officially leave the role on June 30. The search process for this position is not “as far along as the other ones, but it’s moving,” Gallagher said.

As for ongoing committee activity, Gallagher said he’s received a report from the Campus Weather Policy working group, which Greg Scott, senior vice chancellor for business and operations, introduced at last month’s Senate Council meeting.

This group is evaluating Pitt’s extreme weather policies following a polar vortex, which brought bitter cold temperatures to the region in late January. The temperatures caused Gallagher to abruptly cancel classes on Jan. 30.

Gallagher said that the feedback so far has been that execution, communication and timeliness of decisions related to extreme weather “could be better.”

Students told the group that the current policy is unclear about individual discretion for students who need to come to campus during extreme weather events.

“I think that’s actually a fair criticism because there’s an assumption in the policy that students are on the campus, and that’s why we did it that way,” Gallagher said. “But for a lot of upperclassmen in the undergraduate population, for most of our graduate professional students, that’s not the case and I think that’s something we will look at.”

Gallagher said he wouldn’t make an immediate change to the weather policy, and that there are no extreme weather days built into the campus calendar.

“With any luck, the sunshine’s around, we won’t have to use (the policy) anymore this year,” Gallagher said. “But we will be looking at that over the course of the summer. I think this one is going to take some careful thought.”

Afterward, Gallagher announced that Dr. Esa Davis, an associate professor of medicine, clinical and translational science and director the UPMC Tobacco Treatment Service, will chair the ad hoc committee that will review Pitt’s smoke and tobacco policies. Other members will be gathered over the next few weeks, Gallagher said.

This group will not create policy but will make recommendations for future policies.

Gallagher also announced that David A. Harris, the Sally Ann Semenko Endowed Chair and professor of law at Pitt Law, will be the inaugural chair for the Chancellor’s Public Safety Council.

This council will be an advisory board to Gallagher and will be designed to help strengthen Pitt’s community-outreach, as it relates to public safety and police services.

“We think it’s best practice to have a forum for public safety officials to meet with a representative groups of students, faculty and staff to talk about our shared interests about our public safety programs, what our goals are, what these programs look like and how they’re doing,” Gallagher said.

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