Office of the Provost


June 20, 2012

Dear Colleagues:

After more than a decade of service as Assistant Provost for Strategic and Program Development, Sheila Rathke has decided to retire from her administrative role to explore new areas of interest in her life and work.   I accept her wishes with deep appreciation for her many contributions, her good counsel, and her commitment to the University of Pittsburgh.  She will continue in her position through Fall 2012, in order to complete several long-term projects.

Joining us from the private sector, where she spent more than 25 years as a business leader and strategic consultant, Sheila has made unique contributions to the Office of the Provost and to the University.  She brought us to a new level of understanding and professionalism in marketing and planning.  During her tenure at the University, she worked with deans and directors to create and strengthen marketing communications roles in many Provost-area schools and units. 

Early on, Sheila worked with the Provost to shape and articulate overall academic values, goals, and strategies for the University and then to communicate them to a broad cross-section of the Pitt community.  Over the years, she worked with both academic and operational units to help them develop plans that aligned with the Provost’s goals and strategies.  She assisted schools in envisioning and crafting their long-range strategic plans and in developing effective ways to implement those plans.

Sheila collaborated regularly with Vice Provosts, implementing such projects as the launch of new research centers and the positioning of Pitt’s defining strengths in research excellence and graduate and undergraduate education.  She reached beyond the academic units to forge partnerships with other areas, exemplified by the project with Athletics to promote undergraduate research.  In recent years, as a member of key working groups and steering committees, she has helped to facilitate the Provost’s strategic initiatives agenda.   Sheila also played important roles in numerous University-wide projects as diverse as the Technology Commercialization Alliance plan, the Race in America conference, and the Keep Pitt Public campaign.

In her previous career, Sheila held positions as Chief Executive Officer of Burson-Marsteller in Canada, a public affairs consulting firm, and as Sr. Vice President of Young & Rubicam Worldwide, a global marketing and communications firm headquartered in New York City.  She served clients in multinational corporations, financial services and professional services firms and high technology companies in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia.

Sought as an expert on market and corporate planning, Sheila most recently was selected by the U.S. State Department to meet with university and business leaders in Dublin, Ireland to discuss marketing theory and practice.  She served as an advisor to several non-profit organizations in New York City, including the New York Philharmonic and A Better Chance, and on a number of boards in New York and Pittsburgh.  She was appointed by the Governor of Pennsylvania as a student trustee of the University of Pittsburgh in the 1970s.  In 1991, she was named a distinguished alumna, and in 2000 a Legacy Laureate of the University of Pittsburgh.

As Sheila continues her work as Assistant Provost through the remainder of the calendar year, I know you all will join me as we celebrate her outstanding service to the Office of the Provost, and we thank her for her ongoing dedication to the University of Pittsburgh.



Patricia E. Beeson

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