Senior Leadership Academy gives participants 360-degree view of Pitt


As the senior vice chancellor for Community Engagement, Kathy Humphrey is always looking for ways to “connect the University internally and externally.”

Her latest project is the Senior Leadership Academy, which aims to give leaders from across Pitt a “deeper understanding of the totality of the institution, not just their area, but having a full understanding of the whole University — the 360-degree view of the institution — so that they can do their work even better inside their unit,” Humphrey said.

For the first cohort, each member of the senior leadership team that reports directly to Chancellor Patrick Gallagher was asked to nominate two to four people. The result was 21 people who will participate in monthly programming through February 2020.

The academy kicked off with Pitt’s first Leadership Forum on Oct. 2, which was opened to many more supervisors at the University. Humphrey said nearly 500 people attended the event at Alumni Hall, which featured Kevin Kearns, professor of public and nonprofit management in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, giving a presentation on “Leaders of Character: Their Behaviors and Skills.”

A panel discussion about leadership followed featuring Kearns and three members of the Pitt Board of Trustees — Louis Cestello, PNC Bank, regional president for Pittsburgh and Southwestern Pennsylvania; Patricia Horoho, CEO OPTUM and retired Army surgeon general; and Adam Walker, CEO of Summit Packaging Solutions.

“As we began to do the work on creating the academy, it seemed to me that we needed to open up the aperture even more,” Humphrey said. “I thought if we're doing all of this work for this core group of people, how can we make sure that, on a yearly basis, we provide people serving in leadership roles across the University opportunity to gain more professional development. And that's how the forum came about.”

After the forum, the academy cohort participated in a three-day retreat where they heard from Chancellor Gallagher, Provost Ann Cudd, Chief Financial Officer Hari Sastry, Board of Trustees Chair Eva Tansky Blum, Senate President Chris Bonneau, and Greg Scott, senior vice chancellor for Business and Operations, who presented his talk about facilities in a “Jeopardy” style, Humphrey said.

Going forward, each of the University’s senior officers and leaders will be giving a presentation to the academy, which will meet monthly through February.

Humphrey has asked each of the speakers to address the questions: What do you really need them to know? What do you hope they never say? What do you hope they’ll help you do?

“If there is a person who is in the academy from facilities, what do they really know about the life of a faculty member and the life of students,” Humphrey said. “They are here to serve faculty and students, but who sits down with them and says, ‘Let me really explain to you what is the life of our faculty?’ ”

Humphrey plans to continue the Senior Leadership Academy with a new cohort each academic year.

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at or 412-648-4294.


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