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Gallagher discusses research and in-state students at trustees meeting - The Pitt News

Gallagher discusses research and in-state students at trustees meeting

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher speaks at a Senate Council meeting last year. (TPN File Photo)

Pitt’s board of trustees meeting Wednesday began with an interruption.

As Chairperson Eva Tansky Blum began her opening remarks, a protester stood in the William Pitt Union assembly room, shouting, “Shame on Pitt, stop cruel mouse testing.” The individual was immediately escorted out of the room, and the board returned to the meeting agenda.

After the interruption, Chancellor Patrick Gallagher presented the University of Pittsburgh’s annual report. The report — which touched on research and innovation at Pitt, University demographics and Pitt’s economic impact on the region — mostly highlighted University accomplishments and milestones over the past year.

Gallagher announced that the Henry L. Hillman Foundation will commit $30 million dollars to continued support for cancer research on top of a $20 million contribution made in 2004. The grant, which will be distributed over the course of 10 years, will support Pitt and UPMC cancer researchers through the Hillman Fellows for Innovative Cancer Research Program.

“This new investment by the Hillman Foundation extends that life-changing commitment to innovate and be at the forefront of cancer care,” Gallagher said. “It’s also a shining example of Henry and Elsie Hillman’s legacy here.”

Gallagher also addressed Pitt’s demographics in his report, saying that two out of three students at Pitt are permanent Pennsylvania residents. This comes a few months after Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene Depasquale criticized Penn State for not accepting enough in-state students.

“In a state that doesn’t have any more college-age students than it did a while ago, we’re still bringing the same number here,” Gallagher said in an interview following the meeting. “I think that’s a great sign that we’re continuing to meet that need even though the levels of state support have not been as strong as they have been before.”

While the percentage of in-state students at Pitt has decreased because of a rise in the number of out-of-state students and international students, Gallagher said the number of in-state students has remained fairly constant over the years.

“Pitt doesn’t have the size to educate every Pennsylvania student,” Gallagher said. “The better way to look at it is Pitt is there to be leveraged and used by the state and the way you do that is you give in-state students, you make it more affordable for them.”

While tuition rates for students continue to rise, the University received more money than ever last year for research expenditures, hitting a new record of $764.5 million — $97 million in nonfederal expenditures and $667.5 million from federal agencies, according to Gallagher. He also said these numbers are striking because the amount of federal funding available is declining.

“What’s happening here is we are outcompeting our peers, not that our pie is getting bigger, but our share of the pie is getting bigger,” Gallagher said. “It means because of the way these grants are awarded through competitive peer review, it means that we are the best of the best when securing these funds.”

Of all the information included in the annual report, Gallagher said the ways in which Pitt touches the outside world — including its impacts on the Pittsburgh region and the economy — have gotten the most attention.

Gallagher said for every dollar the commonwealth invests in Pitt, there is an economic return of $26. All five Pitt campuses had a combined economic impact of $3.95 billion, and nearly 30,000 jobs throughout Pennsylvania are directly or indirectly supported by Pitt.

“This region believes correctly that we’ve been reinvented because the University is here, and they want us to do more,” Gallagher said. “And that’s an exciting opportunity for us.”

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John Hamilton :Managing Editor