Board of Trustees installs first female chair, approves renovations

By Alexis Mazzeo / Staff Writer

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After a series of meetings last week, Pitt’s Board of Trustees has installed its first female chair and approved more than $34 million for building renovation projects.

At its full meeting Friday morning, former Chairman Stephen Tritch handed over his gavel to Board member and Pitt alumna Eva Tansky Blum, now the first female chair of Pitt’s Board of Trustees.

Chancellor Patrick Gallagher expressed his support for female leaders like Blum. He said none of the women in important positions are there simply because they are women — they have filled their roles because they are outstanding leaders.

“The reality is that this University can’t be what it aspires to be without embracing the talent and capabilities of everyone,” Gallagher said.

Blum said the Board is currently developing goals involving strategic planning that will give the Board focus.

“We have such a talented Board, you look around the room and see CEOs, lawyers and doctors, and we really want to use all of their talents to help the Chancellor and the University,” Blum said.

Along with Tritch, Gallagher stated his support and confidence in Blum’s capabilities as the new chair.

“Eva is chair because of the remarkable things she has done for this University and her demonstrated commitment,” Gallagher said. “She has the leadership capabilities to be so effective that her peers have recognized and elected her.”

The Board also unanimously elected Geovette Washington as senior vice chancellor and chief legal officer. Washington currently serves as general counsel and senior policy advisor in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) at the White House. Washington succeeds P. Jerome Richey, who will retire from the position effective June 30.

At the Board’s Investment Committee meeting on Thursday, members approved a resolution that would allow Pitt to spend some of its capital. This resolution is a revision to the Asset Allocation Policy for the Consolidated Endowment Fund, or CEF.

As part of the resolution, the Investment Committee also set the income distribution amount from the CEF for the 2016 fiscal year at $4.26 per share, representing an income percentage of 4.25 percent of the three-year average fair market value of the assets.

At the Board’s Budget Committee meeting on Wednesday, members approved funding for the second phase of the Parran and Crabtree Halls addition and renovation project, as well as general laboratory renovations on the first floor of Eberly Hall.

So far, Pitt completed the first phase of the project, which was a five-story addition of 57,000 square feet to Parran Hall. This addition will accommodate the extension and relocation of the building’s research facilities.

The second phase of the project will renovate all nine floors of Parran Hall to bring the entire building up to code. The currently vacated wet laboratories will be remodeled into new classrooms, conference rooms, office space and support space for the Graduate School of Public Health.

In total, the project will cost $34,384,000. Of that total, $31,145,000 will come from the state and $3,239,000 will come from the Graduate School of Public Health Reserves.

This project is a part of Pitt’s 12-year Facilities Plan, which the University began in 2006 when it committed more than $1 billion to construction and renovations to meet the University’s needs through 2018.

The renovations in Eberly Hall will create a sensor testing lab for research on carbon nanomaterials for the Department of Chemistry. The space will include new lab controls, flexible lab furnishings and equipment, including fume hoods, gas cabinets and a microscope alcove.

The total project cost for the reconstruction is $3.1 million, according to Pitt spokesperson Ken Service.

Pitt has not yet set a completion date for either project, Service said.

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