Gallagher touts 53% increase in first-year Pitt applications at Board of Trustees meeting


Pamela Smith | Visual Editor

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher smiles during an interview in the Cathedral of Learning.

By Alexandra Ross, Senior Staff Writer

Pitt’s first-year classes seem to be getting bigger each year, and now we know one reason why — according to Chancellor Patrick Gallagher, first-year applications to the Oakland campus have risen by 92% since 2013, and by 53% between 2021 and 2022. 

“Now in general applications are on the rise nationally, but this kind of growth is spectacular,” Gallagher said. “It’s really out of the ordinary.”

Gallagher gave his last chancellor’s annual report at the Board of Trustees’ fall public meeting at the William Pitt Union assembly room on Friday morning. Gallagher plans to step down in summer 2023. The meeting was livestreamed on YouTube and included remarks from the chair and reports from the Pitt Alumni Association, the property and facilities committee, and the budget committee.

Friday marked Douglas Browning’s first public meeting as chair of the board since his appointment in June. Also joining the board for their first public meeting were three new trustees: Jeffrey Martchek, Valerie Njie and David Frederick, the new namesake of Pitt’s honors college

Rather than just updating the board on Pitt’s progress since his 2021 report, Gallagher highlighted Pitt’s growth and accomplishments since 2014, when he became chancellor. The report covered developments in several categories, including Pitt’s academic mission, campus life, research and finances. 

Alongside the 92% increase in first-year applications, Gallagher touted an 80% reduction in crime on the Oakland campus, a 10% increase in all Pitt students’ racial and ethnic diversity, a 41% increase in the University’s economic impact in Pennsylvania and more. 

Gallagher acknowledged a 27% increase in gross tuition and fees for students since 2014.  However, because Pitt’s investment in financial aid increased by 62% over the same period, he said revenue growth from net tuition and fees increased by just 17% — which, according to Gallagher, is “in inflation-corrected terms… essentially flat.” 

What makes all of Pitt’s accomplishments since 2014 even more special, Gallagher said, is that the University achieved them in the face of tremendous obstacles. 

“We have some amazing forward momentum,” Gallagher said. “We really are on the right track. But what makes that positive story even more remarkable to me is that we did this in the face of historic headwinds: a global pandemic, economic and social upheaval, uncertainty about the future of higher education in the United States.”

Prior to Gallagher’s speech, Browning gave an update on the search for a new chancellor. This Tuesday, Browning appointed a 26-person committee to search for his replacement. The committee created a website to inform the public about the chancellor search and the members of the committee. Browning said the committee would conduct their search largely in private, though some updates may be provided to the community as progress is made. 

“While… much of the work of the committee must happen in secret to protect the confidentiality of those involved, Eva [Tansky Blum, the chair of the search committee] will keep me and the board updated on their progress, and we will provide updates as appropriate,” Browning said. 

Richard Sedory highlighted some of PAA’s signature events, programs and successes over the year. This included one of the University’s oldest traditions, Lantern Night, which for the first time in 2021 featured students of all genders instead of just women and attracted a record 2,400 attendees. 

“The first 100 years of this tradition honored the women who broke down barriers and forged new paths at Pitt,” Sedory said. “We remain committed to their memory, but we also strive to acknowledge students of all genders who seek a sense of community and belonging to this university today.”

Sedory also encouraged students and alumni to register for Homecoming 2022, which takes place Oct. 6-9. 

Budget committee member Majdi Abulaban spoke on behalf of Larry Merlo, the committee’s chair. Abulaban said the executive and budget committees held a joint meeting in July, where the executive committee approved a resolution for a $2.7 billion operating budget and $667.1 million capital budget. 

Peter C. Varischetti, chair of the property and facilities committee, reported that his committee held a public meeting on Sept. 13 and approved an $18.8 million resolution to upgrade the Posvar chilled water plan, including renovation of existing cooling towers, purchase of new chillers and installation of new stormwater piping. 

No trustees introduced new business at the end of the meeting. 

Correction: This article originally stated that Browning’s birthday was on the day of the meeting. His birthday was actually on Sept. 21. The Pitt News regrets this error.