New Pitt chancellor brings new strengths, Nordenberg says

When Mark Nordenberg steps down Aug. 1 after a successful 19-year run as University of Pittsburgh chancellor, his successor likely will find that some measure him by how closely his approach resembles that of Mr. Nordenberg‘‍s.

At a news conference Friday that followed a final appearance before Pitt’‍s board of trustees, Mr. Nordenberg suggested that such comparisons miss the point.

“If people don’‍t realize that we‘‍re different leaders with different strengths, then they’‍re being shortsighted,” he said.

Patrick Gallagher, who comes to Pitt from the directorship of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, has an array of strengths and accomplishments in areas from advanced manufacturing to cybersecurity, Mr. Nordenberg said.

“He is bringing a set of skills that will permit him to do things that I could not do, or could not do nearly as well,” Mr. Nordenberg said.

The chancellor said he will be available to give any assistance the new leader might seek, offering context rather than suggesting what the new chancellor should do. “I think he will view me as an asset and not as a threat,” Mr. Nordenberg said.

“A new time has come,” he said. “I‘‍ve had a very long run.”

Mr. Nordenberg spoke not long after Pitt trustees passed a resolution naming him chancellor emeritus, effective when he leaves office. The resolution cited the chancellor’‍s leadership strengths and tenure and noted gains at the 35,000-student university during his tenure that included a quadrupling of assets to $3.8 billion and growth in Pitt‘‍s endowment from $463 million to nearly $3 billion.

Also during the board’‍s meeting, trustees voted to keep Stephen Tritch as chairman for another year to aid in the transition to a new chancellor. The board also named Eva Tansky Blum as the chair-elect.

Earlier this week, Pitt announced that Mr. Nordenberg has been named to the newly created position of chairman of the university’‍s Institute of Politics. The appointment is effective in January.

During his final report to trustees Friday, Mr. Nordenberg expressed pride in the institution, thanked those he had worked with and spoke briefly about what the office has meant to him. Mr. Gallagher was among those looking on as Mr. Nordenberg spoke.

“This really has been the perfect job for me,” Mr. Nordenberg said.

His voiced wavering slightly, he said that even in his worst days as chancellor he never forgot how lucky he was.

Mr. Nordenberg became Pitt‘‍s chancellor in 1996 after serving a year in the job as interim.

”I never could have imagined I‘‍d stay this long,“ he said at the news conference. ”Half this time, 10 years would have been a long tenure.“

Bill Schackner:, (412)263-1977 and on Twitter: @BschacknerPG

Bill Schackner: bschackner@post-gazette.come or 412-263-1977. First Published June 20, 2014 12:00 AM

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