From 1969 through 2022, Pitt senior administrators have stated strongly their commitments to addressing the University’s equity and social justice needs related to Blacks.
Notwithstanding the stated commitments, in 1969 Pitt had one Black dean (Lawrence Howard of the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs) and, in 2022, Pitt has only one Black dean (Valerie Kinloch of the School of Education). Between 1969 and 2022, Pitt had other Blacks serve as deans for the College of General Studies, Education, Engineering, Law, Social Work and Student Affairs. Over time, however, Pitt has had greater success with the appointment of white women serving as deans.
The Black deans of the College of General Studies, GSPIA, Law and Social Work were eventually followed by white women. The Black interim dean of the Honors College was followed by the appointment of a white woman as dean. In 2021, a white woman was selected as dean of students on the Pittsburgh campus. On July 1, 2022, a white woman became dean of pharmacy. Most recently, a white woman was selected to serve as dean for the School of Nursing. A white woman has been serving as dean of the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences.
Regarding the appointment of deans, now is the time for Pitt administrators to produce Black dean appointments that match the administrators’ statements regarding equity and social justice for Blacks.
In my April 29 University Times letter to the editor, I made the case for Pitt to hire its first Black chancellor. In addition to advancing the University as a major research university, perhaps a Black chancellor can help Pitt succeed in appointing distinguished Black senior academic administrators as it has done with the appointment of distinguished white women.
While searching for a new chancellor, perhaps the University can make an overdue payment on its equity and social justice balance sheet by appointing its first Black dean of arts and sciences.
Jack L. Daniel
Vice provost emeritus for undergraduate studies and former dean of students and professor emeritus