Board of Trustees appoints Douglas Browning as board chairman


Bella Markovitz | Staff Writer

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher at Pitt’s annual Board of Trustees meeting on Friday in the William Pitt Union Assembly Room.

By Allison Radziwon, Assistant News Editor

During Pitt’s annual Board of Trustees meeting, Chancellor Patrick Gallagher described the process of building support for the in-state tuition discount as “intense”. Gallagher said the decision on whether to pass the appropriation is now up to Pennsylvania’s elected officials. The appropriation passed in the state Senate on Monday and now awaits a vote by the House where it must receive a two-thirds majority in order to pass.

“We have now entered, so to speak, crunch time, and the matter is now in the hands of our elected officials,” Gallagher said. “They’re under very active legislative consideration – these bills – before the House and Senate right now. We hope the next week will be a productive time in Harrisburg…We hope the process will reach a conclusion in the next few weeks before lawmakers manage to break for summer recess.” 

Pitt’s Board of Trustees held their June meeting on Friday in the William Pitt Union assembly room, and via Zoom, to discuss University affairs, such as recent student fee updates. The meeting also discussed resolutions to elect and reelect trustees to the University, to elect University directors to the UPMC Board of Directors and to elect new board chairman Douglas Browning

Browning served over 28 years with the U.S. Customs service and U.S. Customs and Border Protection and was the first Black man to serve as deputy commissioner. He later retired as deputy commissioner and chief operating officer. Browning, a Pitt alumni, began serving as a trustee in 2013. He is also the principal of the independent consulting company DM Browning & Associates LLC

The resolution to elect Browning passed with only one abstention—Browning himself. 

Browning, now the board’s first Black chairperson in Pitt’s history, said he is “honored” to be the first. 

“Being first is OK provided that, whatever you do, you make sure that the path you leave doesn’t make you the last one… I will measure my success by whether or not there are other people [of color] coming after me. I’m glad to be the first. I’m honored to be the first. I feel it’s a privilege,” Browning said. “I will work my chair off to make sure I’m as successful as possible. And Pitt has been really good —Eva Blum who was a previous chair [from 2015-20] – to have a woman in that position, now an African American in that position…. When you look across our institution as a whole, diversity is clearly one of those values accepted, adopted and embraced.”

Browning succeeded vice-chair Mary Ellen Callahan, who served as the interim chair following the passing of former chair Thomas Richards in October. 

Gallagher said Browning was the best choice for the position. 

“I could not think of a more qualified, collaborative and passionate leader to take on this role. I’ve had the honor of serving alongside Doug for years, and his easy going nature belies an unflagging work ethic and dedication to getting every detail right,” Gallagher said. “He is a powerful force for good, and I look forward to watching him shape the University of Pittsburgh’s next exciting chapter.”

During his speech, Browning discussed the search for someone to step in place of Gallagher as the new chancellor, who announced his plans to step down as Chancellor in the summer of 2023 to transition back to the classroom as a physics professor. Browning said the search will begin this upcoming semester. 

“We face an important year ahead, a year with important milestones. By academic year 2023-24, we will install a new chancellor to follow the excellent leadership of Patrick Gallagher,” Browning said. “My fellow board members and I are excited and eager to start this journey together with Pitt students, faculty, staff, administration, alumni and community.”

The board also reviewed the election and re-election of several board members. Those up for election include David Frederick, Jeffrey Martchek, outgoing alumni association president Valerie Njie, Dawne Hickton and former chair Eva Blum. Members up for re-election include Vaughn Clagette, James Covert, Gary Brownlee, David Morehouse and SaLisa Berrien.

The resolution passed with two abstentions.

The board also reviewed reelections to the UPMC board. The board nominated Browning for the first vice chair of the hospital board. Nominations for re-election included  John J. Verbanac, president and CEO of Summa Development, along with Clagette and Covert.

The resolution passed with one abstention. 

Six trustees ended their terms on the board, including Callahan, Herb Shear, Marna  Whittington, Keith Schaefer, Jane Allred and Wen-Ta Chiu.