Joan Hoffman served as the welcoming face for three chancellors

Joan C. Hoffman, for 30 years the face and voice of the chancellor’s office under Chancellors Wesley Posvar, J. Dennis O’Connor and Mark Nordenberg, died May 7, 2022 at 90.

“Joan Hoffman was a one-of-a-kind wonderful person,” Nordenberg recalled. “She treated everyone with kindness and welcomed visitors to the chancellor’s office with a warm human touch. In fact, she was so nice that many of the people who came to see me probably would have preferred to stay in the reception area talking to Joan. She was the first point of contact for many University guests, and she left them all with an extraordinarily positive impression of Pitt.”

Referencing a quote often attributed to Maya Angelou — “People will forget what you said, and people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” — he added: “Joan Hoffman made everyone feel good about themselves and about the University of Pittsburgh.”

Reynolds Clark, Nordenberg’s chief of staff and vice chancellor for community initiatives, remembered how “she finally decided to take early retirement — at age 80.” One of her other duties was screening the chancellor’s mail, creating a log and drawing the chancellor’s attention to things that needed more immediate response.

“Whether it was a high-ranking elected official, a member of the Board of Trustees or a student who was there,” Clark said, “she treated everybody in a positive and professional way. I think that is a real testament to her. She had a high standard of professionalism with everybody.”

And she loved her job, he added. He remembered running into her after her retirement, as she walked near her residence in Oakland just a few blocks from her old office. “Pitt was truly her professional home and, in her late years, her personal home.”

Hoffman was a graduate of St. Justin High School in Mt. Washington and a member of Pitt’s class of 1954, earning a bachelor's degree in psychology. She joined the chancellor’s office as an administrative assistant in 1981 and retired in 2012.

She is survived by children Kurt (Patti) Hoffman, Paul (Michelle) Hoffman, Gail (Richard) Kepple and Stacy Hoffman; grandchildren James and Robert Hoffman; and cousin Cathy (Terry) O'Brien.

Memorial gifts are suggested to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

— Marty Levine