By SUSAN JONES
Many people were reluctant this week to speculate on what qualities Pitt should look for in its next chancellor, but a few in shared governance were willing to voice their opinions.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
Have some ideas for what Pitt should look for in a new chancellor? Send them to Susan Jones at email@example.com for inclusion in a future story.
“The next chancellor should continue to value the benefits of shared governance in decision making,” Senate President Robin Kear said. “We should look for a chancellor who brings a fresh eye and perspective for how to continue striving for an equitable, inclusive and diverse institution. Someone who values public education and innovative teaching, and an expanded view of scholarship and service requirements. We should want someone who has clear goals for how to make Pitt even better.”
Former Senate President Frank Wilson, who is a assistant vice president for academic affairs at Pitt–Greensburg and an associate professor of sociology, said he was totally surprised by Chancellor Patrick Gallagher’s announcement that he will step down next year.
“After I thought about it, I could understand,” he said. “Why would you want to continue to be in the middle, where you can’t be right on any issue — attacked by either side. And I must say, I don’t know how long I could hold out under that kind of pressure knowing it’s getting worse.”
Wilson said he appreciated Gallagher’s openness and his “willingness to be less risk averse in the way Pitt policy was developed and implemented.” He also said he thinks the regional campuses became more recognized as a serious part of the University under Gallagher’s administration and he hopes the next chancellor will “take the next level of commitment to the regional campuses as as a central, valuable asset to the University of Pittsburgh.”
He also hopes Pitt’s next leader “is somebody who comes in and is tough enough … They’re gonna walk into a pressure cooker, especially on our campus. The politics around here are becoming a little bit frightening in terms of the willingness of our local (representatives) to defund Pitt and and to not be real honest about the reasons in many cases.
“I am hoping for support in a stronger defense than we’re mounting now. We’re doing the official polite approach to things, but I think if we continue to do that we’re going to be in the path of something that is antithetical to our calling, as both a public research and teaching institution that’s trying to make the world a better place.”
He’d also like the next chancellor to give more help to the regionals to weather declining enrollments, especially with the upcoming demographic cliff of fewer college-age students.
Staff Council President Angie Coldren said a new chancellor’s availability to staff, faculty and students “is a critical piece of shared governance that we cannot afford to lose.” This would include regular communication to the Pitt community and being visible and approachable at various events.
“Staff Council feels it is important for a new chancellor to understand the role of staff and our impact on the University,” she said. “Staff perform multiple functions supporting education, research and daily operations and keeping things moving, in most cases, behind the scenes. We cannot ignore the shift in the work environment in recent years. We would like to see a chancellor who is supportive of this new environment and supportive of ways to recruit and retain staff talent like the efforts already in place for faculty and students.”
Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-244-4042.
Have a story idea or news to share? Share it with the University Times.