ICYMI: News from over the summer at Pitt

It was a busy summer for Pitt even though its campuses were pretty quiet. Follow the links for more details about these stories.

Budget fight: The state House on July 6 approved the state-related funding bill for Pitt, Penn State, Temple and Lincoln universities, clearing the way for Gov. Tom Wolf to sign the overall state budget. A fight over funding for the state-related universities held up the overall budget. Republican House lawmakers had tacked an amendment onto the funding bill that would have required Pitt to end medical research using human fetal tissue from voluntary abortions if it wanted to receive its state appropriation, even though none of the money from the state goes toward that or any other research. Eventually the amendment was removed and the bill passed. Funding for Pitt remained the same as the past three years at $151.5 million. Then in August, Pitt learned it would receive an extra $7.57 million in general support and $167,000 for rural education outreach from the state, as part of a deal negotiated between Wolf and legislative leadership on the distribution of federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. This extra money fulfilled Wolf’s request this year for a 5 percent funding increase to the state-related schools.

Pay raises and tuition increases: The University budget unveiled in July has a pay raise pool of 3.25 percent, with an additional 1 percent available for market, inequities and merit. It also includes tuition increases of 2 to 7.5 percent depending on school and residency. The operating budget is up $100 million from $2.6 billion in fiscal year 2022 to $2.7 billion for FY23.

Honors College renamed: In July, Pitt’s first Rhodes scholar, David C. Frederick, announced a unique multi-million-dollar gift that will benefit Pitt’s Honors College — which will be renamed the David C. Frederick Honors College — and University College at Oxford University in England. The unusually structured gift starts with $35 million to help develop Univ North, with Oxford’s University College — a new multi-generational community in North Oxford. As part of the deal, Oxford will have a 50-year commitment to distribute some of the income generated from the completed development to Pitt for the Honors College. The gift to Pitt, which also includes $5 million outright, is expected to create a permanent endowment valued at more than $65 million.

New Trustees chair: In June, the Board of Trustees elected Doug Browning as its next chairman. He is the first Black person to hold the post. Minutes after he assumed the new role, Browning said his first priority is  finding a new chancellor. He is working to build a “truly outstanding search committee” that includes “a wide range of viewpoints, experience and perspectives.”

Departing deans: In June, Kathleen Blee announced she will step down next year as dean of the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences and return to the faculty. Then in early August, Provost Ann Cudd announced that Swanson School of Engineering Dean James Martin had moved to the Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor for Research to become vice chancellor for STEM research and innovation. Sanjeev Shroff, chair of the Department of Bioengineering, will serve as interim dean.

Extra PTO day: In May, Human Resources announced that full-time Pitt employees would get an extra personal day starting on July 1 — raising the total from two days to three.

Building access: On July 1, Pitt lifted pandemic-related access restrictions for University buildings on all campuses. A Pitt ID is no longer required to enter campus buildings. Also, guests do not have to register in advance to gain access to campus facilities. 

New leadership

Gene Anderson was named the new dean of Pitt Business in May and started at Pitt on Aug. 1. The Pittsburgh native most recently was dean of the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University.

Amy Lynn Seybert, who served the past 12 years as chair of Pitt’s Department of Pharmacy and Therapeutics, took over as the new dean of the School of Pharmacy on July 1. She replaced Patricia Kroboth, who held the job for 20 years.

James R. Martin stepped down in early August as dean of the Swanson School of Engineering to become vice chancellor for STEM research and innovation in the Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor for Research. Sanjeev Shroff, distinguished professor and Gerald E. McGinnis chair in bioengineering and chair of the Department of Bioengineering, is serving as interim dean.

Rick Esch, who has been serving as interim president of the Bradford and Titusville campuses since July 2021, was officially named president on July 1 of this year.

Kevin Washo, who has been Chancellor Patrick Gallagher’s chief of staff since 2017, was given another title in May — senior vice chancellor for university relations. The new job means he will oversee the offices of University Communications and Marketing, Government Relations and Advocacy, and Engagement and Community Relations

Stephanie Fiely was named executive director of the Pitt–Titusville Education and Training Hub earlier this month. She had been assistant executive director since May 2020 and takes over for David Fitz, who had served as the hub’s interim director since 2020.

— Susan Jones


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