Provost James V. Maher to Step Down in 2010

Issue Date: 
November 11, 2009

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

In accepting Dr. 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 the further advancement of Pitt.”

In commenting on his decision to bring his distinguished and lengthy tenure as Pitt’s provost to an end, Dr. Maher stated, “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 of Pittsburgh 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 Dr. Maher’s years as provost, the University 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.

As provost, Dr. Maher served as chair of both the University Planning and Budgeting Committee and Pitt’s Council of Deans. He also served as co-chair of the University’s Facilities Planning Committee. He exercised oversight responsibility for the schools outside of the health sciences, four regional campuses, a number of major centers, and such other important areas as admissions, computing and information systems, student life, and the University Library System. He also has served as principal liaison to the Academic Affairs and Libraries Committee of the Board of Trustees.

Among Dr. Maher’s positions of leadership in both national and regional organizations are recent service as chair of the Chief Academic Officers Section of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and service on the boards of BioOne, the Carnegie Science Center, the Pittsburgh Technology Council, the Pittsburgh Tissue Engineering Initiative, the St. Vincent Seminary, and WQED Multimedia. He is a commissioner of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and served on the Association of American Universities (AAU)/National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC) Task Force on Accreditation, which developed a set of principles that were largely adopted by the Council on Higher Education Accreditation. He was a member of the AAU’s Intellectual Property Task Force and a co-author of its formative report “Intellectual Property and New Media Technologies: A Framework for Development at AAU Institutions.” He also was invited by the AAU and the Association of Research Libraries to participate in writing the influential Tempe Principles for Emerging Systems of Scholarly Publishing, a set of principles designed to guide the transformation of the scholarly publishing system.

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 has published numerous papers in the fields of nuclear physics and statistical condensed matter physics, as well as presenting at professional conferences and serving as a visiting scientist at a number of other universities. He is an elected fellow of both the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Chancellor Nordenberg indicated that efforts to identify and recruit a worthy successor to Provost Maher would begin immediately. The search committee will be chaired by Dr. Randy Juhl, the University’s vice chancellor for research conduct and compliance and a former dean of Pitt’s School of Pharmacy. Senior staff support to the committee will be provided by Dr. B. Jean Ferketish, secretary of the University’s Board of Trustees and assistant chancellor. It is expected that the committee as a whole can be fully constituted over the course of the next few weeks.