Kathy Humphrey leaving Pitt for Carlow presidency


Kathy Humphrey, Pitt’s senior vice chancellor for engagement and secretary of the Board of Trustees, will become the 11th president of Carlow University on July 1.

Humphrey has been at Pitt since 2005, starting as vice provost and dean of students. She has been in her current role since 2015. At Carlow, she will replace Suzanne Mellon, who came to Carlow in 2013 and is retiring at the end of the 2020-21 academic year. She will remain at Pitt until the end of June.

“After a robust national search, Dr. Humphrey emerged as an extraordinary leader who will propel Carlow into the future,” said Carlow Board of Trustees Chair Dorothy A. Davis. “Her dynamic vision will inspire and motivate Carlow students, faculty, and the larger University community with her courageous voice, effective skills and engaged involvement.”

Prior to coming to Pittsburgh, Humphrey served in numerous senior posts at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Mo., and held positions at the University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg, Mo., and the University of Missouri, Kansas City, during her 30-year career in higher education.

Carlow, located just down Fifth Avenue from Pitt, is a private Catholic university with an enrollment around 2,000 and about 300 faculty and 200 staff members.

“Kathy is passionate about improving students’ lives through higher education — a pursuit that seems woven into her DNA,” Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said in a statement. “Her ability to articulate and energize a vision — and then move it into action — is rivaled only by her commitment to supporting students and their success. I am deeply grateful for her friendship, partnership, leadership and service to the University of Pittsburgh, and I am excited to see Carlow University’s transformation continue on her watch.”  

Humphrey has been an active and very visible leader at Pitt.

As dean of students, she developed the Cross-Cultural Leadership Development Center and moved Black and white Greek organizations from separate locations to one location. She and her staff also helped make the campus more inclusive for members of the LGBTQIA+ community by implementing gender-neutral housing and bathrooms and changing Pitt’s diversity statement to include them.

As senior vice chancellor, Humphrey helped create the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and expanded diversity programs offered at Pitt, including a certificate program and a variety of workshops. She also was very involved in the creation of Pitt’s Community Engagement Centers in Homewood and the Hill District.

Humphrey also was instrumental in creating the Pitt Diversity Forum, which last year attracted near 10,000 online participants, and the Community Engaged Scholarship Forum, which honors work by members of the Pitt community with local groups.

In January 2020, she was honored by Equipoise, Pitt’s African-American/Black affinity group, with the Creating a Just Community Award. At the Equipoise MLK Unity Luncheon where she received the award, Dean of Student Kenyon Bonner said: “Kathy is a familiar presence to our students and comforting reminder of the things that make us all feel the same: valued, appreciated, understood, and most importantly, loved.” 

During the pandemic, Humphrey and her office have worked hard to keep the Pitt community connected, even though most people weren’t on campus. She helped create Pittwire Live, a website that highlighted online activities for Pitt students, faculty and staff to participate in from home. She also, along with Human Resources’ David DeJong, spearheaded a plan that allows staff to request up to eight hours per week from their work schedule to volunteer. 

Humphrey’s salary for this year is $427,993, although she and the other senior vice chancellors agreed in April 2020 to donate 10 percent of their 2020-21 salaries to the general scholarship fund, which provides tuition assistance to Pitt students. No plans have been announced yet for the search process for a new senior vice chancellor for engagement.

In 2018, Humphrey was one of three finalists for chancellor of the University of Massachusetts­–Boston. All three withdrew their names from consideration after pushback from faculty at the school.

Humphrey has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg, Mo.; a master’s degree in higher education administration from the University of Missouri in Kansas City; and a Ph.D. in educational leadership from Saint Louis University.

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


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