Senate Council discusses tuition funding, leadership changes


Zoom screenshot

Thursday’s senate council meeting.

By Samantha Salz, Staff Writer

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher said Thursday that he’s grateful for the outpouring of support he received from the Pitt community regarding his transition from chancellor to professor. Gallagher recently announced that he’s stepping down in summer 2023.

“I just want to say thank you to all of you who have reached out, whether in person [or virtually],” Gallagher said. “This is something I didn’t do lightly, but I’m candidly really excited about being a professor of physics here at the University of Pittsburgh.”

Gallagher and his colleagues discussed leadership transitions, upcoming events and other University-wide changes at Thursday’s Senate Council meeting held in Posvar Hall and on Zoom.

While there is no definite timeline for when Pitt will announce his replacement, Gallagher said he doesn’t expect the Board of Trustees to create a search committee until this upcoming fall. According to Gallagher, the Board of Trustees is still searching for their own chair due to the passing of former Board of Trustees Chair Thomas Richards, and doesn’t expect to be completed with their search until the end of June.

Despite the big leadership changes currently underway, Gallagher and other Senate Council members said Pitt must continue fighting to uphold the current in-state tuition discount that is provided through state government funding. Specifically, President Robin Kear said it’s more important than ever for members of the Pitt community to sign up to be Pitt Advocates.

“It is state budget season and we really do need to communicate the value of Pitt to our state government representatives, as the Chancellor has indicated in a campus-wide email and earlier in his report,” Kear said. “This is important, please consider joining Pitt Advocates Network from the Office of Government Relations.”

To further prepare for the transition into the new academic year, Danielle Floyd, the president of Student Government Board for the 2022-23 academic year, introduced herself and her board members to Senate Council, and gave a brief overview of the new SGB’s first meeting.

“This past Tuesday, the 2021 to 2022 Student Government Board had their last meeting, and the 2022 to 2023 Student Government Board had our first official public meeting, which is really exciting, where we formally appointed our seven new committee chairs and our 25 members to our allocations, elections and judicial committees,” Floyd said.

Senate Council also passed a vote 35-0 with two abstentions to endorse Provost Ann Cudd’s statement on academic freedom, a principle Cudd said is important to uphold as an institution. This statement, which builds upon those made by past provosts, reaffirms the right of University faculty and staff to write, teach and speak as private citizens free from University censorship.

“I think it’s important for every provost to weigh in on academic freedom,” Cudd said. “There’s been a pandemic, so this took me a little bit of time, but what I asked the committee to do is look over the previous statements made by provosts, and I think it’s important to show a long-standing commitment to this as a University.”

Gallagher also discussed the upcoming commencement ceremonies. One ceremony will be held for the class of 2020, including professional, graduate and undergraduate students, in the Petersen Events Center on April 30. The commencement ceremony for this year’s graduating undergraduate class will also be held in the Petersen Events Center on May 1. Vice Chair Mary Ellen Callahan, exercising the duties of the Chair of the Board of Trustees, will speak on April 30, while former Pitt and NFL football player Louis Riddick will speak on May 1.

Also approaching are Senate Committee elections, which will take place from April 27 to May 9, to elect members on each of the 15 university Senate Committees.

Kear also said the deadline to submit proposals for the University’s upcoming diversity forum is now May 13.

“Please consider submitting for the forum called ‘Rewiring Our Systems: Transforming the Intersections of Inequity,’” Kear said. “It will take place July 25 to 28, and will focus on engaging intersections and social identities impacted by systemic oppression. Our Vice President Kristin Kanthak has been a part of that planning.”

In his final Chancellor’s report of the academic year, Gallagher said he wished students and faculty a smooth and restful finals week, and looked upon his future as a professor at Pitt.

“My apologies to my colleagues in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, they didn’t know this was coming either,” Gallagher said. “I have some work to do there with my colleagues to talk about that at some point, but as I said, a year and a half. We still have a lot to do and I’m excited and energized to do it, and I’m looking forward to working with all of you.”

A previous version of this story referred to Mary Ellen Callahan as the Acting Board of Trustees Chair. Callahan is the Vice Chair and is exercising the duties of the Chair. The article has been updated to reflect this change. The Pitt News regrets this error.