By SUSAN JONES
While it probably won’t be his final Board of Trustees meeting, Chancellor Patrick Gallagher used the forum on Sept. 23 to give a roundup of accomplishments during his tenure.
Gallagher announced in April that he will step down next summer from the job he’s held since 2014. A search committee was announced this week to find his replacement (see related story).
The chancellor typically gives his annual report at the fall board meeting, but this year he said he wanted to “put them in the context of what we’ve done over this last nearly a decade of working together, because sometimes the real story is written over time.
“When I look at this, the takeaway for me is clear. We have some amazing forward momentum. We really are on the right track,” he continued. “But what makes that positive story even more remarkable to me is that we did this in the face of historic headwinds, a global pandemic, economic and social upheaval, uncertainty about the future of higher education in the United States. We have not been immune from those headwinds; in fact, in many cases, they’re not even resolved. They’re still there and it’s still our mission to do what all great universities do — to lean in and tackle the great problems of the day.”
Gallagher broke his presentation into several segments, showing slides and statistics of how Pitt has changed since 2013.
First-year applications Oakland: Up 92 percent since 2013. “Over last year alone, the increase is 53 percent, one of the highest year over year jumps anywhere in the country,” Gallagher said.
Applicants from Pennsylvania: This year had a record number of applicants from the state, with the biggest jump coming from outside of Western Pennsylvania.
Student diversity: Racial and ethnic diversity among Pitt’s students has increased from 17 to 27 percent. “We expect that trend to continue over the years; again reflecting both the broad reach of the University, its efforts and the changing pattern of applications across the country.”
Incoming class GPAs: The fall 2022 class had the highest average GPA — 4.16 — of any Pitt class. When the regionals are included, it shows an increase from 3.79 in 2013 to 4.03 this year. “We continue to see not only large demand, but extraordinarily high quality demand on all campuses for the University.”
Investment in students: The overall investment in financial aid for students has increase 114 percent. Since 2014, Pitt has doubled the number of students it reaches with financial aid, which is up 112 percent.
Panthers Forward: 600 graduating seniors have participated, each receiving $5,000 grants and making a nonbinding pledge to pay it forward by giving back to the University. For this group, it has reduced average per student debt by 20 percent.
Students honors since 2014: 89 Fulbright scholars; 76 National Science Foundation graduate research fellows; 14 Goldwater scholars; five Beinecke scholars; four Marshall scholars; two Truman scholars and Schwarzman scholars and one Rhodes scholar.
Gallagher noted that the Campus Master Plan, completed in 2019, prioritized 14 projects and of those, seven are complete or underway on the Oakland campus. “If you look at our progress, we have now approved an ambitious roadmap using this master plan as a guide, and we’re using it to maximize the possibilities for this campus,” he said.
Other items cited under campus life:
Pitt has made specific commitments to use sustainable landscape design, reduce food waste, reduce energy use intensity, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including a commitment to reduce emissions by 50 percent by 2030.
The OSHA recordable rate, which is the number of full-time employees per 100 that experience a reportable injury or illness, has been in steady decline and much lower than the national average among universities.
Pitt’s on-campus crime rate in Oakland has dropped 80 percent since 2014. Gallagher cited the increasing trust between the Pitt community and the police as one factor driving the decline.
Racial and ethnic diversity among Pitt employees has risen 58 percent.
Annual research expenditures at Pitt exceeded $1 billion for first time in fiscal year 2021-22, a 53 percent increase since 2014.
“According to the National Science Foundation, there are 21 American institutions that have more than a billion dollars of research expenditure. Pitt is number 15 on that list,” Gallagher said.
“Despite the pandemic disrupting pretty much every aspect of our daily life, including supply chains across the globe, it really is remarkable to me that our research staff have been able to continue this trend with almost no discernible impact over that period of time,” Gallagher said.
While most of the money is from federal funds, “industry funding, which has been our priority for growth, has more than doubled, rising 119 percent over this period.”
Translation of discovery into products and services is a key measure of Pitt’s research impact, the chancellor said. In this area, Pitt has had:
2,952 patent applications
852 patents issues
2,9977 invention disclosures
128 startups created
$45.6 million in licensing revenue generated
Last year, Pitt ranked 18th in the list of the top university recipients in U.S. patents worldwide.
Anchoring the region
“We know that we have a big effect on the region and the people who live here,” Gallagher said. “In fact, as we saw just this week, visitors from around the world are coming to Pittsburgh to see the economic transformation that has happened based on this eds and meds economy that we are part of.”
Statistics he cited:
Pitt’s direct economic impact in the region has grown 41 percent to $5.2 billion. “We are essentially supporting more than 47,000 jobs in the region and generating more than $271 million in local and state taxes,” he said.
As of last year, there were almost 200,000 Pitt alumni in Pennsylvania. “That means they are all contributing to their communities, growing businesses, providing services and paying taxes. That number means that today approximately one in 32 workers here in Pennsylvania is a Pitt alumnus.”
Pitt projects have fueled a 59 percent uptick in construction-related jobs in the area, and 95 percent or more are highly skilled union positions. There also have been huge increases in the number of women-owned (739 percent) and minority-owned (335 percent) business being used by Pitt on these projects.
Pitt’s mall Business Development Center, part of the Institute for Entrepreneurial Excellence, has worked with 8,617 clients, 738 startups, and held 406 training events. in 2020, Pitt’s SBDC was named the number one such program in the U.S. by the Small Business Administration.
In 2021, Pitt allowed students to use meal plan funds at local businesses to help them weather the pandemic. This caused an 185 percent jump in student spending at off-campus restaurants.
Gallagher also cited Pitt’s work in community vaccination clinics during the pandemic and contribution to United Way as ways the University helps the community.
Financials and operations
“The university’s financial position is fundamentally very strong,” Gallagher said.
He noted that the state funding has been steady and increasing during his time here. It’s risen 13 percent since 2014, but in inflation-adjusted dollars that comes out as flat funding. Overall, state funding is 6 percent of Pitt’s budget, down from 7 percent in 2014.
Gross tuition revenue has gone up 27 percent, but increased aid to students means that net revenue from tuition is up just 17 percent.
The endowment now returns $187 million to the budget each year — up 83 percent since 2014. “The beneficiaries of those funds, often directed by donor intent, are predominantly to our students through scholarships, aid, academic support, and as well as faculty positions,” Gallagher said.
The fundraising gifts that support these initiatives also have seen an increase. New gifts and donations are up an average of 138 percent. Athletics saw a fundraising increase of 294 percent.
Pitt also has had nine transformative gifts of $10 million or more during Gallagher’s tenure, and of those, seven have come in the past two years.
Gallagher concluded his report by thanking everyone at the University for the past eight years. “I just want to say it’s been the privilege of my professional life to have served alongside with you. We are an amazing University and I’m so proud to be part of it. Thank you for giving me that opportunity.”
Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-244-4042.
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