Browning says chancellor search panel is diverse cross-section of Pitt community


New Board of Trustees Chairman Doug Browning is moving ahead on his top priority — finding a new chancellor. This week, he named the 26-person committee that will lead the search for a new chancellor, and he announced the first two in-person forums will be on Oct. 3 and 7.

Eva Tansky Blum, who is chairing the committee, said after the Sept. 23 Board of Trustees meeting that the University has made tremendous progress since she chaired the last chancellor search committee in 2013, which she says “helps tremendously.” She said there’s been amazing interest from people to help the committee. “They want to help with finding the next chancellor. We have such respect for Pat. … We’re not replacing Pat, but finding the next great chancellor.”

The firm Storbeck Search, which also supported the 2013 search for Chancellor Patrick Gallagher, has been selected to partner with the search committee in this process. Gallagher announced in April that he will step down next summer from the job he’s held since 2014 and transition to the faculty as a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Blum said one of the challenges in finding Gallagher’s successor is that there’s going to be a lot of competition. She said there are probably 15 chancellors or presidents who have said recently that they plan to step down.

“The marketplace will be very active, and we have to distinguish ourselves as a university that deserves their attention,” Blum said. “I don't think that'll be hard, but we have to work at it.”

She said they will be looking at people both inside and outside of higher education. One key attribute they’ve already heard is that the next chancellor should be someone who continues to move Pitt into the international economy as a global presence. The entrepreneurial spirit of the University also will be an important factor.

Browning said he had a “sigh of relief” when Blum agreed to chair the committee. He told the Trustees that the members represent a diverse cross-section of the University community. “I am confident this committee will provide the board with an excellent slate of candidates,” he said.

Browning also said although much of the process will be behind closed doors, updates will be provided as appropriate.

Blum said she hopes to have completed the chancellor search by next spring.

The committee

The search committee includes five faculty members elected by their peers, one staff representative and two students, along with alumni, trustees and other Pitt administrators.

The elected faculty members come from five different areas of the University, as per Senate Council bylaws:

School of Medicine: Sarah Gaffen, professor, Division of Rheumatology and Clinical Immunology

Regionals: Jeff Guterman, professor, Division Chair of Communication and the Arts at Pitt–Bradford

Professional schools of the provost's area: Larry Feick, interim associate dean, College of Business Administration, and professor, Katz Graduate School of Business

Dietrich School: Lara Putnam, professor, Department of History (Michael Goodhart, political science, was originally elected by Dietrich faculty, but declined the position. Putnam was the next highest vote-getter)

Other schools of the Health Sciences: Debbie Miller, vice dean, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, and professor in the Department of Physical Therapy

Staff Council’s representative on the search committee will be Christine Jackson, the organization’s parliamentarian and executive director of personnel and operations for SHRS.

The two student representatives are: Danielle Floyd, president of the Student Government Board, and Varbi Mridha, vice president for finance of the Graduate and Professional Student Government.

Blum, who served from 2015-20 as Pitt’s first female Board of Trustees chair and who chaired the search for Mark Nordenberg’s replacement in 2013, will lead the committee, and Anantha Shekhar, senior vice chancellor for health sciences, will be vice chair.

Trustees on the committee

SaLisa Berrien (ENGR ’91), founder and CEO of COI Energy

Vaughn Clagette (A&S, chemistry, ’89 and M.D. ‘93), practicing physician with the Southeast Permanente Medical Group in Atlanta, and member of the UPMC Board of Directors

James “Jimbo” Covert (A&S, English, ’91), operating partner, Cressey & Company; former Pitt football and NFL star; and member of the UPMC Board of Directors

John Gismondi (A&S ’75 and Pitt Law, ‘78), founder of Gismondi and Associates law firm

Patricia Horoho (NURS ’92), retired lieutenant general, who was the first woman and nurse to serve as surgeon general of the U.S. Army and commander of the Army Medical Command, from 2011 to 2015

Larry Merlo (PHARM ’78), former CVS Health CEO and chair a new consumer health company that will be created by the upcoming split of Johnson & Johnson

Valerie Njie (EDUC ’71), president of the Pitt Alumni Association and executive director/vice president at Bidwell Training Center

Bryan Salesky (ENGR ’02), founder and CEO of Argo AI

Peter Varischetti (CGS ’92), president of Varischetti Holdings


Timothy Billiar, executive vice president and chief scientific officer, UPMC, and professor and chair of Pitt’s Department of Surgery

Kenyon Bonner, vice provost for student affairs 

Bruce Childers, dean, School of Computing and Information

Nicola Foote, dean, David C. Frederick Honors College

Hari Sastry, senior vice chancellor and chief financial officer

Amy Seybert, dean, School of Pharmacy

Jem Spectar, president, Pitt–Johnstown

“The members of this committee bring a high level of diversity in experience, knowledge and thought leadership to the search process,” Browning said in a news release. “I fully trust in Eva, Anantha and the group to recruit outstanding candidates for the board’s consideration.” 

Geovette Washington, Pitt’s chief legal officer, will serve as staff to the committee, along with Stacey Czerniejewski, as executive assistant.

Seeking input

The University community is encouraged to provide input about the search for Pitt’s 19th chancellor through surveys and forums. An online survey will remain open until Oct. 14. In addition, forums will be hosted on the Pittsburgh campus and virtually. The first two in-person forums will be on Oct. 3 and 7.  The committee hopes to attract alumni to the Oct. 7 forum, since they will be on campus for homecoming.

More details regarding the forums, including locations and how to participate, will be shared on the University’s official social media channels and on the chancellor search website.

After the initial input from the University community, the committee’s work will be less public-facing.

“Confidentially is critical as we recruit candidates and move through the interview process,” Blum said in the news release. “The committee will work diligently to recruit the best candidates.” 

Browning said the goals of the committee are to be thorough, but move swiftly to enable the board to name a new chancellor in spring 2023. 

For the latest updates regarding the search, visit the chancellor search website.

Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at or 724-244-4042.


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