Nathan Urban Transition

March 2, 2020

Dear Colleagues:

Nathan Urban has served the Office of the Provost in far-reaching ways. It is with deep appreciation for all that Nathan, a proud Pitt alumnus, has brought to the University that I write to share that he has announced his decision to accept a truly outstanding opportunity at Lehigh University to serve as that institution’s Provost. He will transition to Lehigh during the summer months.

Nathan first joined the office as Vice Provost for Special Projects in 2015, becoming Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Strategic Initiatives in 2017. In those vital roles, he has guided all graduate and professional academic programs—including creation of programs and policies—and has been deeply involved in developing and supporting strategic initiatives to expand graduate and professional programs. He has also led transformative efforts to personalize the student experience at the University. 

Nathan’s work with graduate and professional students has been dedicated to understanding their perspectives about graduate life at Pitt and working to maximize their experiences. He has done this by developing new opportunities to connect directly with students. From monthly newsletters and social media channels to events, forums, and office hours, he has opened meaningful dialogues and promoted positive change. Most recently, to further foster a sense of community, he helped to establish the Graduate and Professional Student lounge in the William Pitt Union and, prior to that, worked to expanded the graduate study and dissertation writing rooms in Hillman Library.

As well, Nathan instituted an annual Graduate Studies retreat to bring together faculty, administrators, and student leaders from the 14 schools that offer graduate programs. That effort has resulted in increased access to and awareness of mental health resources; the placement of ombudspersons—who advocate for students—in each of the schools; recommendations on a thoughtful use of the GRE in graduate admissions; and a new initiative to improve the mentoring of graduate students. Similarly, at the postdoctoral level, Nathan has engaged regularly with the officers of the University of Pittsburgh Postdoctoral Association to assist them in promoting University resources available to postdocs.

Beyond his extraordinary work in the Office of the Provost, Nathan has also served Pitt as Professor and Associate Chair of the Department of Neurobiology, the Associate Director of the University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute, and as co-Director of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition. In these roles, he has promoted the work of colleagues in neuroscience at Pitt and in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon. This scientific work has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Simons Foundation, the Hillman Foundation and the DSF Charitable Foundation.

Prior to his time with us, Nathan was Carnegie Mellon University’s Interim Provost from 2014-2015. There, he was also the Frederick Schwertz Distinguished Professor of Life Sciences and served as Head of the Department of Biological Sciences (2010-2014). He first joined Carnegie Mellon's Department of Biological Sciences in 2002, after a postdoctoral fellowship at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research in Heidelberg Germany.

Many good things have grown—and will continue to grow—because of Nathan’s many contributions, not only at Pitt but more broadly in the Pittsburgh community. Please join me in extending both profound thanks and warm congratulations as Nathan begins his next professional chapter. I will announce details of the search for his successor in the weeks ahead.



Ann E. Cudd
Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor

Professor of Philosophy