Assistant treasurer, Susan Gilbert, stayed positive despite struggles

Pitt’s assistant treasurer, Susan Gilbert, died Aug. 11.

“Sue courageously battled cancer for eight years,” said her colleague, Lori Doran, executive administrator in the office, “but so many didn’t realize it because she was such a positive person and maintained such an unwavering professional outlook.

“She was not only a high-performer admired for her work, but she was the whole, complete package as a leader,” Doran recalled.

“She took it upon herself to ignore her own challenges and instead chose to lift up others through her incredible energy, positive attitude and infectious smile,” Treasurer Paul Lawrence wrote to his staff. “While I’m sure everyone has their own memories of Sue, this is how I will remember her. A true fighter. A selfless person. A bright light in what sometimes seems like a harsh world.”

“There were so many things that were going on, and you would never have known,” he told the University Times. “She was pleasant and happy and had this great energy about her and such a positive attitude.”

Gilbert joined Pitt as assistant treasurer in 2000. 

“Throughout her tenure,” noted Chief Financial Officer Hari Sastry in a remembrance, “she provided strategic oversight and effective management of the University's capital finance structure, banking and cash management policies/systems, and short-term investment management.”

Most recently, she was instrumental in helping the University issue a $400 million century bond — a 100-year loan — at a very low price, Sastry wrote: “Sue’s efforts directly helped to secure a stable future for the University.”

Born Jan. 3, 1965, Gilbert received her bachelor’s degree in finance and economics from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, then earned two degrees from Pitt: an MBA from the Katz Graduate School of Business and a master’s degree in public policy and management from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. 

“She loved the University of Pittsburgh,” Doran said, “and it was very evident,” not only from her dedication to the treasurer’s office team but in the way in which she signed almost everything “#H2P.”

“She really made you feel we were on the same team and she was grateful always for how we all contributed to work,” Doran added. “She considered her colleagues at Pitt like her second family, and we absolutely believed it.

“She just kept going on, when so many people would not have continued to work. She would go into chemotherapy treatment and then come into the office. She didn’t want anyone asking her: How are you doing? How are you feeling? She just had that strength.”

She is survived by her husband Steve; mother Patricia; children, Lauren and Shane; and siblings, Debby (Jeff) Recker, Mike (Ellen) Murray, Kathy (Jim) Griener and Eileen (Don) Stanford, and many other family members.

Memorial contributions are suggested to the Whitehall Public Library, 100 Borough Park Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15236.

— Marty Levine