Progress never comes from standing still — and at Pitt, we don’t stop moving.
A University effort to create Pitt’s next five-year strategic plan has resulted in a dynamic blueprint for building upon prior successes and embracing new challenges. The Plan for Pitt reflects broad input from all five campuses and is meant to serve as the University’s North Star, helping to guide the institution forward on a key set of change-focused objectives. Implementation has already begun, but the improvements in the works aren’t just for those on campus. Many of the actions called for in the Plan for Pitt are meant to nurture opportunities for the entire Pitt community.
Chancellor Patrick Gallagher spoke with Pitt Magazine about how he envisions the plan and all that it can offer to alumni.
Editor-in-Chief Laura Clark Rohrer: What changes at the University do you think alumni might notice as the Plan for Pitt is implemented?
Chancellor Patrick Gallagher:
The degree to which they’re in the spotlight. The best measure of a great university is made through the lives of the students who went there. And so, what we’re saying with the Plan for Pitt is that we’re going to hold ourselves accountable as a university not just for what happens when you’re here, but also for the success of our alumni. For young alumni and recent graduates in particular, I hope that they see that the plan has a pretty dramatic focus on them. We’re doing things like extending our career services to alumni, making sure that alumni networks are activated to support recent grads, and continuing to support those making career moves or doing postgraduate planning. We’re holding ourselves accountable for what really matters in the end, which is the success of our alumni.
What do you envision will remain the same, even as Pitt continues to evolve?
The most important thing that stays the same is who we are. We’re not shopping for a new mission. Look, this is a tumultuous time. There are a number of simultaneous problems that need answers—whether they’re health crises, crises about race and social justice, environmental catastrophe, breakdowns in global governance, or the breakdown of community norms. Our mission — to leverage knowledge for society’s gain—has never been more important. Knowledge and learning are the keys to unlocking many of these really big problems. With this plan, we’re not trying to change what we are. We’re just finding ways to make it more relevant to the specific challenges of today.
How can alumni get involved in the plan’s implementation?
One of the clear ways to get involved is through the Pitt Alumni Association [PAA]. We’ve been actively engaging with PAA in the plan’s strategic planning. They provide a natural, formal way for alumni to continue to be involved with the success of the University. There are also the informal, indirect ways — business leaders reaching back to the University and involving us in some of the partnership activities or internship opportunities that their businesses can provide Pitt students and graduates, for example. And, of course, getting involved through philanthropy and giving makes a difference.
Is there a part of the plan you think alumni might want to pay particular attention to?
One of the many things they may find interesting is our focus on enhancing the University’s professional and graduate offerings. It’s very rare now in many fields that a bachelor’s degree is all you need. There’s a rising demand for professional and postgraduate education. We have some of the country’s top graduate and professional programs. We’re spotlighting the ways to continue that trend.
What would you say to alumni considering a return to Pitt for an advanced degree?
Well, speaking as somebody who did that, I’d say that as good as you remember it, Pitt has gotten even better. This is now one of the leading public universities in the whole country. That means that you’re likely to work with some of the very top people in the field. Couple that with some of the best opportunities to put that new knowledge to work — whether it’s in a classroom environment, in a fieldwork environment, in a clinical environment, in one of our hospitals or in a research environment in some of our leading research laboratories. It’s really an unmatched opportunity.
That’s right — you earned a PhD in physics from Pitt. When you reflect on your own experience as a graduate student here, what first comes to mind?
The number of doors of opportunity that my Pitt degree opened was much bigger than my imagination was willing to let me believe before I came here. One of the things that advanced learning does is it pushes you and it gets you to grow. It opens up possibilities that you didn’t even know were there.
That, in essence, is what we’re doing with the Plan for Pitt — pinpointing ways for the University to grow, to forge fresh paths forward and to become an even better version of itself.
Learn more about the Plan for Pitt at planforpitt.pitt.edu.
This story was posted on January 10, 2022. It is from Pitt Magazine’s Winter ’21-’22 issue.