Public forum discusses search for new chancellor

By Danielle Fox / Staff Writer

Members of the Pitt community said Pitt’s next chancellor will need to have experience in a multitude of areas during a public forum Friday morning.

Five members of the Chancellor Search Committee at 9 a.m. in an informal gathering on chairs in the University Club Ballroom to discuss the qualities Pitt’s next chancellor should exhibit. Current Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg plans to retire next August.

An audience of at least 14 people, mostly members of Pitt’s faculty, came to Friday’s forum, which was the second to take place on Pitt’s main campus. The first forum took place Wednesday, and the third is scheduled to take place a week from Monday.

In addition to the three forums on Pitt’s campus, there will be a forum at each of the University’s four regional campuses and in major cities across the United States, including in locations as far away as Texas and California.

On Friday, the members of the Chancellor Search Committee who were present chose to eschew the long table set up in the Ballroom, and diminished the formality of the event by moving to a corner of the room where they sat in chairs while facing the audience members. The members led an open discussion on the qualities they wanted to see in the next chancellor.

Search Committee Chairwoman Eva Tansky Blum said she heard has the word “humanity” repeated frequently when she discusses the search for Nordenberg’s replacement.

But fiscal concerns were also raised at the Friday meeting.

The faculty in attendance said that the shrinking state budget and fact that the Pitt is the nation’s most expensive public university would be an ongoing concern in the future.

“I would say perhaps one of the biggest challenges is the growing public perception that college costs too much,” Director of Alumni Relations and Development Jean Hale said.  

Search Committee member David Bartholomae asked those in attendance what their thoughts would be on a candidate who has run a major organization, but not a university.

“First, I would say I don’t think it would be a great idea but I guess it depends on the person and their background,” said Linda Hartman, a reference librarian and liaison to the School of Health and Rehabilitative Sciences.

Daniel Mosse, the chair of Pitt’s Department of Computer Science, said the candidate would have to understand the research and academic components of the university.

“It’s not simply books and accounting,” Mosse said.

In addition to Blum and Bartholomae, Search Committee Vice Chair James Maher, Committee Member Randy Jule and Secretary to the Committee B. Jean Ferketish were also present.

“This might have been a small group but it was a terrific group,” Blum said after the forum.

This article has been amended from an earlier version. The original version said that the next forum is scheduled for the Monday, Sept. 23. The net forum is in fact scheduled for Monday, Sept. 30.