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A Unique Asset

Written by Cara J. Hayden



University of Pittsburgh Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor James V. Maher has announced his intention to leave his administrative position and return to the faculty at the beginning of next academic year or as soon after that as his successor can be in place. The University’s chief academic officer since June 1994, Provost Maher has served with distinction and is widely credited with helping to lead Pitt through a period of unparalleled progress.

In accepting Provost Maher’s resignation, Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg said, “It is hard to imagine anyone being better at his or her job than Jim Maher has been as our provost. Among the many positive qualities that he brought to this key leadership role are his extraordinary breadth of knowledge, a well-developed ability to identify talented individuals and to anticipate academic trends, and a deep dedication to Pitt that has extended across most of his adult life. He has earned both the gratitude and respect of all of Pitt’s many constituent groups and has touched, in significant and consistently positive ways, virtually every aspect of life within our University.

“I certainly could not have had a more capable and committed professional partner than Jim Maher,” Chancellor Nordenberg continued. “I will miss working with him on a daily basis when he leaves the provost’s office. However, particularly given the knowledge and insights that Provost Maher has acquired over the past 15 years, he will remain a unique institutional asset, and we will find other ways, in addition to his contributions as a faculty member, to make use of his special talents for Pitt’s further advancement.”

In commenting on his decision, Provost Maher said, “I am very proud to have been a key member of Chancellor Nordenberg’s team during these years of dramatic progress for the University. I am optimistic that the University will continue to elevate itself among the nation’s best research universities, and I only regret that I cannot go on indefinitely in pursuit of that goal. I am deeply grateful to the Chancellor and to all of my colleagues in the University community for the teamwork and dedication to the University that have characterized our years together.”

During his years as provost, Pitt made significant strides on wide-ranging fronts—dramatically increasing applications for admission; elevating the academic credentials of admitted students and boosting enrollments; promoting instructional innovation and supporting the creative use of new teaching technologies; adding substantially to on-campus housing capacity and enriching the quality of student life; enhancing overall research strength while moving into critical new areas of inquiry and creating programs for the commercialization of technology; designing and implementing plans for the development of facilities and infrastructure that would support academic ambitions while maintaining fiscal discipline; and reaching out to alumni, donors, and other friends in markedly more effective ways.

Provost Maher earned his bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Notre Dame and his master’s and doctoral degrees in physics from Yale University. He served as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Argonne National Laboratory before joining the faculty of Pitt’s Department of Physics and Astronomy in 1970. He served as chair of that department and as director of the University’s Scaife Nuclear Physics Laboratory. He also has been a longstanding resident fellow of the University’s Center for Philosophy of Science. He is an elected fellow of both the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.