THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES CHOOSES MARK A. NORDENBERG
AS PITT'S 17TH CHANCELLOR.
ON THE MARK
WRITTEN BY TOMMY EHRBAR
Mark A. Nordenberg was appointed chancellor at the June meeting of the Board of Trustees. He had been serving as interim chancellor for the past 10 months, following the resignation of J. Dennis O'Connor.
"Over the last year, Mark has shown extraordinary leadership in a challenging climate," said board chairman J. Wray Connolly. "In a brief period, he has made major strides in uniting and revitalizing the campus community. Mark has gained the confidence of the region's business, political, and foundation leadership. An immediate challenge is to continue the process of focusing the University's finite resources on those activities and programs that make it a great institution."
Nordenberg, a former Pitt law school dean and member of the Pitt community for the past 19 years, said of his new position, "I am deeply honored to have been chosen to lead this institution. I have spent most of my adult life at Pitt and am completely committed to seeing it achieve all of its great potential."
Nordenberg was one of three finalists for the position of chancellor. The others were Sherry H. Penney, chancellor of the University of Massachusetts, Boston, and Charles S. Reed, chancellor of the State University System of Florida.
Board member James Roddey chaired the chancellor's search committee. The 23-member committee was composed of trustees, faculty, staff, students, regional campus representatives, and alumni. In all, the committee evaluated 160 applicants or nominees. Roddey said, "We interviewed some very impressive candidates over the last nine months, some of whom could have been very successful in this position. However, many of the representatives of the faculty, staff, students, and others from whom the search committee sought input expressed broad-based and enthusiastic support for Mark and the successes he already has achieved."
"Mark Nordenberg," Connolly emphasized, "was the clear choice of the board."
In response to his election, Nordenberg noted the educational strength of the university he was about to lead as chancellor: "The quality of our programs in areas as diverse as philosophy and transplantation surgery has received international recognition. We now annually import into this community nearly one-quarter of a billion dollars in sponsored project support. And we have emerged, in the minds of many, as this region's single most important institutional citizen--the leading educator, the largest employer, an enhancer of the overall quality of life, and the most promising source of the ideas and technology that may breathe new life into the area's economy."
The new chancellor crystallized his hope for the University: "Simply put, we want to be among the best in everything that we do."
The news of Nordenberg's selection was welcomed throughout the University of Pittsburgh community.
Andrew J. Kuzneski, Jr. (Business '62), president of the Pitt Alumni Association, said, "He is the right person at the right time to lead our great University into the next century. I worked with Mark this past year, and I don't know of any group or constituency that doesn't have the highest respect for him."
Those who have known Nordenberg best over the years concurred in this assessment. W. Edward Sell, another former Pitt law school dean and himself a legend at Pitt, has witnessed a half century of Pitt's history. He joined the law faculty in 1947 and is still teaching here a half century later. He described the choice of Nordenberg as "excellent. He has the administrative ability, the interpretive skills, and he knows the University. I have high hopes for his administration. Frankly I have nothing but good things to say about Mark Nordenberg."
Law professor Margaret Mahoney said, "I've known Mark for 18 years as a colleague and friend and was very pleased to learn of his appointment as chancellor. I believe he is very dedicated to the University and to the larger Pitt community. Furthermore, he possesses the talent and character that will enable him to lead the University of Pittsburgh successfully."
Joe Moran, president of the law school alumni association, associate at the Pittsburgh law firm of Reed Smith Shaw & McClay, and former student of Nordenberg, commented, "As a teacher and a person, Mark has the energy, the resolve, and the enthusiasm to really bring Pitt into the next century. He is the perfect person to work with Pittsburgh's various social and economic groups. He has a real interest in this community. I think he will be a tremendous success and that others will become involved in the University because Mark is involved."
It is clear that Nordenberg has also established a sense of rapport with Pitt students. Student government president Andrew Wuertele notes that the chancellor's persona is such that "any student walking across campus would feel comfortable talking to him." He adds, "He has incredible respect for student concerns and a deep interest in who we are."
Nordenberg, who took office immediately upon election at the June board meeting, brings to the position an impressive blend of talents in both the academic and legal professions. He joined the faculty of Pitt's School of Law in 1977 and served as its dean from 1987 to 1993, at which time he was named interim provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs. He returned to the School of Law as a distinguished service professor in August 1994 and became interim chancellor on August 1, 1995.
Along with his distinguished record of administrative accomplishments, Nordenberg twice has been honored for his ability as a teacher. In 1984, he was the first recipient of the annual Excellence-in-Teaching Award, presented by the Student Bar Association and the graduating class of Pitt's School of Law. The following year he was awarded a Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award, University-wide recognition for extraordinary teaching.
Prior to joining the University of Pittsburgh, Nordenberg was a member of the faculty of Capital University Law Center in Columbus, Ohio. He is the author of numerous articles and books on legal issues and has served in several prominent positions within the legal profession. In 1988 he was appointed by Chief Justice William Rehnquist to serve on the Supreme Court's Advisory Committee on the Civil Rules. The committee recommended changes in rules governing civil litigation in the federal courts.
Nordenberg received his undergraduate education, majoring in mathematics, at Thiel College, which awarded him a Professional Achievement Award in 1988. He was awarded his law degree magna cum laude from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he was a member of the Order of the Coif and a Weymouth Kirkland Legal Scholar. Nordenberg and his wife, Nikki, have three children.
And so a new cycle in the life of this University has begun, as Mark A. Nordenberg builds upon the long, proud legacy of a great institution about to enter a new century with a renewed hope for the future. (Editor's Note: An in-depth profile of Chancellor Nordenberg will be featured in the November 1996 issue of Pitt Magazine.)