Pitt names Kathleen Blee new Dietrich School dean

Pitt named sociology Professor Kathleen Blee as the new dean of the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences on May 1

Concluding a search process begun last summer, Pitt announced the hiring of a new dean of the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences Monday.

Kathleen Blee is set to start as dean on August 15. Blee is currently associate dean for the Dietrich School and has been a professor of sociology at the University since 1996.

In a release, Blee said she was “humbled and honored” by the appointment, emphasizing the importance of the Dietrich School’s success to the University as a whole.

“The continued excellence of the Dietrich School and the College of General Studies is essential to maintaining Pitt’s position as a world-class university,” she said.

Pitt Provost and Vice Chancellor Patricia Beeson praised Blee as an advocate of diversity and collaborative leadership in the Dietrich School — something students who gave input during the search process had said was a priority.

“Kathy brings to the deanship a collaborative leadership style grounded in the [School’s] core values of academic excellence, innovation and diversity,” Beeson said in the release. “I am confident in her ability to lead the Dietrich School in developing a clear, comprehensive and inclusive vision for the next chapter in its history.”

Outgoing Dietrich Dean John Cooper, who has served in the position since 1998, said in June 2016 he would leave his leadership position to resume his role in the Department of Chemistry.

Under Cooper’s deanship, the School saw a 30 percent increase in the hiring of minority faculty, as well as an increase of nearly 50 percent in the number of female faculty members. Cooper said in a release he believed Blee would continue to work toward greater diversity in the Dietrich School.

“I cannot imagine a better leader for our faculty, staff and students going forward nor one more committed to true excellence now and in the future,” he said in the release.

Apart from her roles as associate dean, Blee has directed research on political activist groups and racial violence in the United States. Blee has authored four books, with another set for release this year. Published in 2012, her most recent work, “Democracy in the Making: How Activist Groups Form,” looks at the emergence and development of activist political groups in Pittsburgh over a three-year period.

Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said he is“confident” Blee will continue to improve the Dietrich School as an institution.

“Kathy is a distinguished scholar, an experienced and collaborative administrator and an innovative leader,” Gallagher said. “These exceptional qualities — matched by a remarkable commitment to our students and her dedication to supporting our faculty members — truly set her apart.”

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