Gallagher: Pitt in a ‘watershed’ moment

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Chancellor Patrick Gallagher spoke about the dual crises facing the University at Friday morning's board of trustees meeting.

By Jon Moss, Editor-in-Chief

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said Friday that Pitt is in a “watershed” moment, while dealing with the dual crises of the COVID-19 pandemic and combating racial injustice.

“We have to live up to this demand for change,” Gallagher said. “They are calling us to challenge the fundamental assumptions that we have made about how the University works and what its purpose is in many areas. This is about transformation.”

Gallagher briefly discussed these crises at Friday morning’s board of trustees meeting.

Numerous Black student groups have called for change at Pitt, in the wake of nationwide protests after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. A coalition of 18 Black student organizations sent a list of demands to the administration last week, and medical students were able to get the new School of Medicine’s dean to agree earlier this month to some reforms for that school. At May’s Senate Council meeting, Gallagher said Pitt has “let… down” its Black students.

Gallagher said after the meeting that the administration had met with the Black Senate and other Black student leaders before they submitted their letter, and are in the process of scheduling a follow-up session to go over the demands. He added that he is focused on building “working coalitions” with students, faculty, staff and other community members.

“That happens when you sit down across the table, even if that’s a virtual table, and work together,” Gallagher said. “I’m looking forward to that.”

Gallagher also addressed concerns about the fall semester and, in particular, [email protected], the University’s new teaching model. The program is said to allow students to experience classes “in person, remotely, synchronously or asynchronously.”

He said he understood frustration from faculty members about a lack of communication, and was working to have the University send out information “as soon as it’s available” about the fall.

“This is really hard stuff,” Gallagher said. “There’s a lot of uncertainty.”

Gallagher added that concerns from faculty over doing extra work during the summer, and receiving additional compensation, are being “actively discussed” by Provost Ann Cudd and her team.

The new [email protected] teaching model is one part of Pitt’s reopening plans for the fall semester, which 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. University officials said last week that students would not be required to attend classes in person.

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