The Plan for Pitt: Excellence Must Translate into Action

Issue Date: 
July 11, 2016

The University of Pittsburgh, exceptionally well positioned to advance toward its strategic goals by the significant achievements of the past two decades, faces a critical decision point, said Chancellor Patrick Gallagher in a report to trustees during the recent annual board meeting.

“Do we press forward, exactly as we have? Or do we have a responsibility to take our success and build on it by creating something only Pitt can achieve?” he asked.

“With this level of achievement comes a responsibility to define what kind of university we seek to be and what kind of benefit we bring society. We must put our excellence into action in order to make a difference.”

Chancellor Patrick GallagherGallagher described activities and achievements across the University within the past year and their alignment with The Plan for Pitt, the University’s strategic plan. He also offered a glimpse of objectives for the coming year.

The Plan, a product of broad community engagement over the past 18 months, has moved from a phase of introspection and consideration toward action guided by plan goals. Gallagher touched on specific projects planned for the coming year, including, among others:

The launch of the University Center for Teaching and Learning, which will give faculty members access to enhanced teaching tools and strategies that will build on existing effectiveness and benefit Pitt students. 

“We must be leaders in improving education, in educational innovation, and in transforming teaching,” Gallagher said. “To bring more of our students to their fullest potential, we must foster a learning landscape that is individualized, targeted, meaningful, and responsive.” 

The jump-start of an effort to operationalize diversity within the University, beginning with a declaration of a Year of Diversity, modeled on the just-completed Year of the Humanities. “Differences in human experience and perspective can enhance the process of learning and discovery. This requires a form of functional diversity—a community open to all backgrounds, united in a common purpose of learning, discovery, and service,” Gallagher said.

The creation of Centers for Urban Engagement, aimed at offering Pitt a front-line presence in local neighborhoods that want to partner with the University in working for change. 

The creation of the Energy Grid Research and Infrastructure Development Institute, or GRID, which will address power and energy infrastructure issues. “Our GRID Institute will enable Pitt researchers to evaluate major issues impacting our nation’s power grid as well as the patchwork of transmission and distribution systems across the globe,” he said. “Equally important is that it will place our students, faculty, and staff alongside an unprecedented team of utility, industry, government, and foundation partners. And it will firmly position Pittsburgh as a key player—regionally and globally—in the race to modernize our energy infrastructure.” 

Gallagher expressed appreciation for the legacy of reinvention and the pursuit of excellence that serves to support the University’s new direction.

“We are not becoming a leading university—we are one,” he said. “By every measure we are among an elite class of institutions. As we consider what to do not only to hold our position but also to strengthen it in service to our constituents, our young strategic plan defines our agenda. We have begun to take key steps forward, with more to come.

“Our success under this plan will be measured by our excellence and reputation, but also by our achievements against our goals. Excellence has to have impact in order to matter.”