By SUSAN JONES
At the winter meeting of the Board of Trustees today, Chancellor Patrick Gallagher talked about enrollment trends nationally and at Pitt. Many schools are experiencing large increases in the number of applicants, he said, including Pitt, which as of Feb. 24 had received 50,290 applicants for the Oakland campus for fall 2022, up 56.6 percent from last year.
The reasons for this increase are still largely unknown, Gallagher said, but cited the test optional policies Pitt and many other schools have adopted and the ease of applying to multiple schools through the common application.
He said the trends show a striking split between residential, four-year institutions of higher quality, which are reporting very large increases, and some less selective systems that are seeing significant downward admissions numbers.
“We simply don’t know how persistent this trend will be,” the chancellor said. “It has happened so fast, it is stressing the admissions processes. Marc Harding and his team probably never worked harder and with less certainty about how decisions will be made.”
The application numbers are up in almost all of Pitt’s schools — 90 percent for the College of Business Administration; around 50 percent for the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences, Pitt Nursing and the Swanson School of Engineering; and 80 percent for the School of Computing and Information.
“We’re very proud of the fact that we’re seeing this demand,” Gallagher said. “We think it reflects a very strong reputation and brand that certainly seems to be at least part of the dynamics here. Amidst all this uncertainty, students are electing to increase the number of applications and go for sort of marquee programs and high recognition programs. I’m delighted that Pitt is in that category.”
Last year’s then-record number of applications resulted in the largest-ever incoming freshman class at the Oakland campus — approximately 4,900 students, 600 more than had been projected.
The trustees took time to remember and honor former chair Tom Richards, who died in October 2021 after a 14-month battle with cancer.
A video chronicled Richards’ history at Pitt, from star student-athlete on the Panthers’ basketball team that went to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament in 1974, to a supporter of Pitt athletics with the Tom and Mary Beth Richards men’s basketball scholarship, to becoming a trustee in 2011 and eventually being elected chair in 2020 until his death last year.
The trustees passed a resolution expressing “their sincere appreciation and profound gratitude to Thomas E. Richards for his many contributions to the University and the broader community.”
Chancellor Gallagher also thanked the board’s vice chairs, Mary Ellen Callahan and Louis Cestello, who have taken on the duties of the chair until the next election is held.
“It’s always a challenge to step up and lead a board under any circumstances, but to do so under these circumstances, in accordance with our bylaws, was extraordinary,” Gallagher said. “And I went thank you for your extraordinary service to this University.”
The board formally approved the appointment of Jeffer Choudhry, former senior managing director and head of investments for Carnegie Mellon University, as Pitt’s new chief investment officer. Choudhry will replace Greg Schuler, who left the University at the end of June 2021. Paul Lawrence, the University’s treasurer, has been serving as acting chief investment officer in the interim. Shortly after the full board meeting, the trustees’ Compensation committee approved a salary of $700,000 annually for Choudhry, with eligibility for incentive payments of 70 percent of base pay for each fiscal year, based on qualitative and quantitative factors. Gallagher told the committee that a peer group of chief investment officers at universities with endowments similar to Pitt's was used to establish Choudhry's salary.
The trustees also approved naming the new Engineering and Information Technologies Building, now under construction at Pitt–Bradford, after George B. Duke, owner and chairman of the board of Zippo Manufacturing Co. Duke has been on the school’s advisory board since 2000. In January, Zippo — the iconic lighter company based in Bradford — pledged $2 million to Pitt–Bradford to equip state-of-the-art engineering labs in the new building, which is scheduled to be completed by fall 2022.
Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at email@example.com or 724-244-4042.
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