Trustees re-elect Tansky Blum to final year as chairperson

The June 28 Board of Trustees meeting saw the election of several new members to the Pitt board and to the UPMC Board of Directors, along with a quarterly report from the chancellor.

Thomas RichardsIf you missed the meeting, here’s a brief recap:

The Property and Facilities Committee presented details of the approved $23.7 million project construction project for Bigelow Boulevard between Fifth and Forbes avenues, which will begin in November.

The board approved a resolution to re-elect Eva Tansky Blum as chairperson for her final one-year term, and to elect Thomas E. Richards, former chairman, president and CEO of CDW, as the chairperson-elect to take her place next year.

The board voted to elect several new members to the board: Robert O. Agbede, vice chairman, Hatch USA; SaLisa L. Berrien, founder and chief executive, COI Energy; Sundaa Bridgett-Jones, senior associate director, Rockefeller Foundation; Wen-Ta Chiu, neurosurgeon and co-chief executive officer, AHMC Healthcare in California; and Adam C. Walker, CEO, Summit Packaging Solutions. See the June 27 University Times for more details.

Tansky Blum also memorialized former board member Alice Kindling, 89, who died June 9. Kindling served as a trustee from 1972 until 1999, when she was elected to emeritus status. She served as chair of the student affairs committee for 13 years and was on the Board of Visitors for Athletics and the Schools of Pharmacy and Dental Medicine.

UPMC board members

Three new members, including new chairperson-elect Thomas Richards, were elected to the UPMC Board of Directors. One third of the 24 people on the UPMC board are appointed by Pitt. The other two who were elected are:

  • Vaughn S. Clagette, a practicing physician with the Southeast Permanente Medical Group who has a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and a doctor of medicine degree from Pitt.

  • James “Jimbo” Covert, former CEO and president of the Institute for Transfusion Medicine, Inc., and former offensive lineman at Pitt who later played in the NFL for the Chicago Bears.

They will fill the seats vacated by Bill Strickland, the president and CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corp.; and Stephen R. Tritch, former chairman of Westinghouse Electric Co. and former Board of Trustees chairperson, whose terms on the Board of Trustees have ended, and former Pitt Chancellor Mark Nordenberg.

The board also voted to re-elect John J. Verbanae, chief executive officer of Suma Development, LLC.

The other Pitt-appointed seats on the UPMC board are held by: Chancellor Gallagher, Trustees chair Eva Tansky Blum, Senior Vice Chancellor for Health Science Art Levine and G. Nicholas Beckwith III, a non-voting special trustee and chairman and CEO of Arch Street Management, LLC.

Report from the chancellor

Gallagher’s report touched on the Pennsylvania state budget, changing demographics in Pitt’s freshman class and more. Highlights include:

  • The newly signed state budget includes a 2 percent increase for Pitt and other state-related universities. See related story.

  • A drop off/stagnation period of incoming students is on the horizon in 2026 because of lower fertility rates after the 2008 recession. 

  • Pitt’s incoming freshman class is more diverse than the previous academic year with an increase in Latinx students and African-American students 

  • Invention disclosures have seen a 26 percent increase from 2015 to 2019 and startups increased 128 percent during this same period. Gallagher singled out Professor Graham Hatfull, of the Department of Biological Sciences, whose lab developed a cocktail of viruses to treat life-threatening bacteria resistant to antibiotics.

He also formally introduced the new Pitt–Greensburg President Robert Gregerson and new Pitt–Bradford and Titusville President Catherine Koverola. And the board approved a resolution of appreciation to honor retiring Pitt–Greensburg President Sharon Smith for her time with Pitt.

— Donovan Harrell