Patrick D. Gallagher Is Named the 18th Chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh

Issue Date: 
February 17, 2014

The University of Pittsburgh Board of Trustees elected Patrick D. Gallagher the 18th chancellor and chief executive officer of the University of Pittsburgh. The vote took place during a Feb. 8 special meeting of the board.

Gallagher, age 50, currently serves as acting deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce and director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology.  He will succeed Mark A. Nordenberg, who is stepping down as chancellor on Aug. 1, 2014, after leading Pitt for 19 years.

“This is an important moment for the University of Pittsburgh,” said Stephen R. Tritch, chair of the Board of Trustees. “In Dr. Patrick Gallagher, we have an individual who brings exceptional experience to the position along with an impressive background in promoting partnerships that develop innovation and support research and other academic pursuits to advance the greater good of society. Coupled with that, he has a deep understanding and commitment to the mission and values that are the essence of the University of Pittsburgh. All of this makes him superbly qualified to build on the tremendous progress and positive momentum that Pitt achieved under the leadership of Chancellor Nordenberg.”

Gallagher was appointed acting deputy secretary of the Department of Commerce by President Barack Obama on June 1, 2013. In that capacity, he serves as the chief operating officer for the department, with overall responsibility for budget, planning, and operations. The mission of the department, which has a total operating budget of more than $10 billion and has 40,000 federal employees, is to help make American businesses more innovative at home and more competitive abroad.

As director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a position he has held since 2009, Gallagher provides high-level direction for the agency, which promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology. Many of the agency’s areas of priority—including manufacturing, information technology and cybersecurity, energy, health care, the environment and consumer safety, and physical infrastructure—not only reflect high national priorities but overlap with important work being done at the University of Pittsburgh. 

“I am deeply honored to have been chosen to lead the University of Pittsburgh,” Gallagher said. “Public service has been an underlying value throughout my career, and I can think of no higher form of public service than leading this great University. I am proud to be an alumnus of this fine institution, and I have been impressed with the excellence of the education, scholarship, and research here at Pitt ever since I was here working on my PhD. My respect for the University and what has been accomplished here has continued to grow over the years. I am excited by the opportunity to contribute to Pitt’s continued progress and future success. It is clear to me that much of the success that Pitt has achieved has been the result of the spirit of cooperation and collaboration that exists among all parts of the University community. Over the years, I have been committed to supporting collaborative efforts, and I look forward to being a part of the Pitt family as we continue to work together to move the University forward.”

Eva Tansky Blum, Board of Trustees vice chair and chair of the search committee, noted that Gallagher’s track record of collegiality and collaboration was one of his defining strengths. “In 2006, the U.S. Department of Commerce awarded him its Gold Medal for his leadership in interagency coordination efforts. He has initiated joint ventures with universities; he put together a world-class research staff at NIST; and he directed a reorganization at NIST, achieving consensus from all the affected people in the process,” she said.

“In Patrick Gallagher, our trustees have chosen as Pitt’s next chancellor someone who has built a distinguished career in public service and also has special ties to our University,” Chancellor Nordenberg said. “Dr. Gallagher’s work in promoting scientific innovation and economic development, his familiarity with federal laboratories and agencies, and his international experience all should position him to help propel Pitt through another exciting period of progress and impact. And having built the foundation for his own life on a Pitt education, he will naturally place a high priority on the student experience. He also is known as a principled and effective leader who is respected and admired by his colleagues. I have been very impressed by him in our past interactions and, like others who care about Pitt, stand ready to assist him in any way that I can.”

When Gallagher takes over as Pitt chancellor on August 1, he will inherit the leadership of an institution that has established an impressive record of progress and achievement. For example:

  • undergraduate applications and the credentials of enrolled students have soared;
  • faculty and students regularly receive the highest forms of national and international recognition;
  • Pitt ranks among the top U.S. universities in terms of federal science and engineering research and development support attracted by its faculty;
  • the University has been a driving force in the economic transformation of the Pittsburgh region; and
  • Pitt receives regular national recognition as a “best value” university.

Gallagher received a bachelor’s degree in physics and philosophy from Benedictine College. He lives in Brookeville, Md., with his wife, Karen, and their three sons.