Context: June Board of Trustees meeting


Sarah Cutshall | Senior Staff Photographer

Chancellor Gallagher spoke with the State Senate Appropriations Committee in Harrisburg on Tuesday.

By Jon Moss, Editor-in-Chief

Pitt’s board of trustees will livestream its second 2020 meeting on Friday at 10:15 a.m., providing an update on University affairs to the community. The board is responsible for all key decisions at the University, including creating the annual budget and setting tuition prices.

COVID-19 pandemic

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher will likely provide an update at the meeting about Pitt’s plans for the fall semester, in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The University announced earlier this month that it would launch Flex@Pitt, a new teaching model that would allow students to experience classes “in person, remotely, synchronously or asynchronously.” The academic year will include an earlier remote-only start to classes, a shift to in-person classes one week into the semester and sending students home for the year at Thanksgiving. Many of the details about Pitt’s fall plans remain unknown.

Combating racial injustice

The chancellor may also provide an update on Pitt’s efforts to combat racial injustice on campus, in the wake of nationwide protests after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. Numerous Black students have called for change from the administration, and medical students were able to get the new School of Medicine’s dean to agree to some reforms for that school. At May’s Senate Council meeting, Gallagher said Pitt has “let… down” its Black students.


In recent years, Pitt has been under pressure from student groups such as the Fossil Free Pitt Coalition to divest its $4.3 billion endowment from fossil fuels. The group disrupted a September board meeting held at the Johnstown branch campus and held a week-long February sit-in in the Cathedral of Learning’s commons room.

In response to this pressure, the board approved a new process at its February meeting to formally recognize requests for investment exclusions from the University community. Gallagher could then advance a request by either bringing it directly to the Board or creating an ad hoc advisory committee to analyze the possible exclusion. A findings report would then be presented to the Board for possible action.

Pitt also quietly released a socially responsible investment policy statement in March, which would help to guide endowment investments.

FFPC organizers said they have not heard from the administration about their divestment request since the February meeting. Pitt spokesperson Pat McMahon said board members have begun conversations about divestment.