Dear University Community:
After eight years of exceptional service as provost and 17 years of distinguished service as an academic administrator, Patricia Beeson has informed me of her intention to step down from her current administrative role and return to faculty after the conclusion of this academic year. This decision prompts the beginning of a search for her successor, and I am delighted that Patty has agreed to continue her service as provost until that search is successfully completed.
Patty’s tenure as provost and senior vice chancellor has been marked by her innovative and ambitious academic vision for the University of Pittsburgh. By realizing that vision, she has enhanced our stature as a university. All five of Pitt’s campuses have benefitted from her leadership, realizing gains in reputation, graduation and retention rates, student success, and support for faculty. While her full accomplishments are far too numerous to respectfully recognize here, a few standout milestones deserve a turn in the spotlight today.
As provost, Patty has dramatically transformed our University’s academic framework to embrace new opportunities in technology, data and innovation. Under her leadership, Pitt established its first new school in more two decades—the School of Computing and Information, which opened this fall with more than 1,100 students enrolled. She also oversaw the creation of Pitt’s Innovation Institute, which opened in 2013. By her design, the Institute has blossomed into a vibrant hub of entrepreneurship and innovation that has fueled the work of Pitt faculty and students, who were issued a record number of patents earlier this year.
In her leadership role, Patty has elevated topics of universal interest through sweeping “Year Of” awareness campaigns. Using this platform, she emerged as a passionate and vocal champion for the role of the humanities in the University. She also deepened Pitt’s commitment to sustainable practices and a sustainable future and, more recently, shined a light on the importance of diversity and healthy living.
Patty led a decisive charge to strengthen our University’s faculty community. In addition to key leadership hires—such as recruiting and appointing 11 dean-level positions during the last seven years—she led efforts to grow our number of full-time faculty members. She also worked to create career paths outside of the tenure stream, bolster diversity among faculty and dramatically broaden professional development opportunities—particularly with the reorientation of our University Center for Teaching and Learning, which supports innovation in the curriculum and classroom.
Our academic programs have also flourished thanks to Patty’s unwavering commitment to academic excellence and student engagement both within the classroom and beyond. During her term as provost, standardized test scores of incoming first-year students have risen to new heights, resulting in our University welcoming its most talented incoming classes ever. At the same time, our international student body has more than doubled in size, and the number of minority students enrolled at Pitt has increased by 53 percent. Our graduation and retention rates have also climbed to the highest rates in our University’s long history.
Patty has been a bedrock of support since I arrived at Pitt. Her data-driven, problem-solving leadership style, deep knowledge of the academy and love of Pitt have made her an invaluable partner and colleague. It has been an incredible honor to work alongside Patty, and I look forward to working closely with her during this transition period. Please join me in thanking Patty for her extraordinary service to our University, celebrating her successes to date and supporting her as she transitions into her new role later next year.