By SUSAN JONES
At its first in-person meeting since February 2020, Pitt’s board of directors elected Doug Browning as its next chairman on June 24. He is the first black to hold this position.
Minutes after being elected, Browning addressed the biggest problem the council now faces – finding a new chancellor.
“Our overall goal for the search process for our next chancellor is to conduct a robust national search that successfully identifies truly exceptional candidates for our consideration,” he said.
The first priority, he said, is to build a “truly exceptional research committee” that includes “a wide range of views, experiences and perspectives.”
Browning said he would use the committees formed during the last two chancellor searches – in 1995 and 2013 – as models for the composition of the search committee and the timeline followed by the committee. The process of replacing Mark Nordenberg with current Chancellor Patrick Gallagher began in July 2013 and took more than seven months. Gallagher announced in April that he planned to step down next summer once his replacement was found.
The next priority is finding the right research firm, Browning said — one that can “identify potential candidates, including those who may currently be in leadership positions at other institutions.” A request for proposals has already been issued to find a research firm, and Browning expects to select a firm this summer.
He also plans to choose trustees to serve on the search committee by the end of August, and he will interview with the Senate Council to identify candidates for the Faculty Assembly, Staff Council, and Student Government. for the committee.
Browning said it was important for the committee to get a “good start.”
“I wish they were ready to move quickly as the semester begins this fall,” he said. In September, he wants the committee to hold town hall meetings and other forums, conduct polls and create websites so the Pitt community can help “define the profile of the candidate we are looking for for the position of chancellor.”
He hopes this profile will be ready for the directors to review at their meeting towards the end of September. “I know it’s aggressive, but it gives us the best chance of entering the market at the right time, with the right committee and with the right recruitment agency and the right processes in place that will benefit from strong commitment. within the senior management of the University stakeholders.”
In an interview after the meeting, Browning said Chancellors Nordenberg and Gallagher were the right people at the right time for the University. Now the board must consider what Pitt needs to move forward. “You don’t want to model it after the person before, you want to model it after what you need (now).”
Browning doesn’t think the budget controversies Pitt is having with the state legislature will impact candidates running for chancellor, but “it’s something they need to know and something you’ll be asking. a candidate. How would you approach this? How would you handle this?
Browning said after the meeting that he was surprised when he was chosen to be the next president. He was on the screening committee of potential candidates, and he thought they had picked someone, but that person decided they weren’t ready for the job. Then his name came up as a possibility.
“And why would I want to do that?” he said. “Because I love the University of Pittsburgh. … It’s educated three of my favorite people — my nephew, my daughter, and me.
“If I, along with the other board members, can do something to ensure that this institution provides children with exceptional educational opportunities and takes them in the direction they want to go, I am more than willing. to do it.”
Browning graduated in political science from Pitt in 1972 and director of the independent consulting firm DM Browning & Associates LLC, which advises on the transportation of goods and services across international borders. He has been a director since 2013 and has served on numerous committees.
He served more than 28 years in the United States Customs Service and its successor agency, United States Customs and Border Protection, ending his tenure as Deputy Commissioner and Chief exploitation. He has also held customs and trade-related positions with General Motors Corp., Sandler Travis Trade Advisory Services and Science Applications International Corp.
Being the first person of color to hold office is nothing new for Browning, who was the first African American to be named chief operating officer of U.S. Customs.
“First is sometimes okay, as long as whatever you do, you make sure the path you leave doesn’t make you last,” he said. “I will measure my success by whether or not there are other people who are after me. I’m happy to be the first; I’m honored to be the first; privilege.
The council has had only one female chair – Eva Tansky Blum, who held the position from 2015 to 2020. Chairpersons are elected for a one-year term and can be re-elected four additional times.
“When you look at our entire institution, diversity is clearly one of those values that we’ve embraced, embraced, and embraced,” Browning said.
Other highlights of the meeting
The meeting was led by one of the council’s vice chairs, Mary Ellen Callahan, who has served as interim chair since the death of Tom Richards in October 2021, during her second year as chair. Callahan has reached the end of her term on the board and said she would “watch from afar” as the board selects a new chancellor.
The hybrid meeting attracted many current and senior William Pitt Union trustees, but few filled the public seats.
Chancellor Gallagher began his presentation by thanking Callahan and fellow Vice President Louis Cestello for stepping in after Richards’ death. He noted that Richards was never able to attend an in-person meeting as president due to the pandemic. He spent most of his time discussing Pitt’s efforts to get his annual credit from the state. (See related story)
Gallagher also noted that Pitt is awaiting the final accreditation report from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. He thanked Joe McCarthy, Vice-President, Undergraduate Studies, for all his work on the required self-assessment report.
“We had our exit interview, and we’re told that Pitt not only met all the standards, but exceeded them with flying colors,” he said. “The Middle States Visiting Team noted that Pitt is a highly collaborative research university. They congratulated us 12 times for our performance on the self-assessment process. …and they have praised the University four times for our performance against the standards themselves. It is not systematically done. »
The Board also approved the recommendations of the Governance and Nominating Committee for the election and re-election of special, term and alumni directors. Term Trustees have voting rights at meetings of the full Board of Directors as well as at committee meetings. Special trustees can only vote at committee meetings. Traditionally, new Pitt board members join as special trustees.
Elected to the Pitt Board of Directors were:
David C. Frederick: Partner, Kellogg, Hansen, Todd, Figel & Frederick PLLC. Special Trustee
Jeffrey D. Martchek: Former President of Homebuilding Operations, NVR, Inc. Special Trustee
Valerie Njie: Former Executive Director and Senior Vice President, Bidwell Training Center, and Past President, Pitt Alumni Association. Alumni Administrator
Dawne S. Hickton: Executive Vice President and COO, Critical Mission Solutions. Acting Administrator (formerly Pitt Administrator)
Eva Tansky Blum: Former Executive Vice President and Director of Community Affairs of PNC Bank, and former President and President of the PNC Foundation. Term Trustee
Were re-elected to the Board of Directors:
Vaughn S. Clagette: Physician, Permanent Southeast Medical Group. Term Trustee
James “Jimbo” Covert: operating partner, Cressey & Company. Member, Pro Football Hall of Fame. Term Trustee
Gary T. Brownlee: Advisor to the Indiana Small Business Development Center at Purdue University. Alumni Administrator
David J. Morehouse: Former general manager and president of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Special Trustee
SaLisa L. Berrien: Founder and CEO of COI Energy. Term Trustee
Susan Jones is the editor of the University Times. Join her at [email protected] or 724-244-4042.
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