Melissa Bilec: Special Assistant to the Provost

September 30, 2022

Dear Colleagues,

I am delighted to announce that Melissa Bilec has accepted my offer to serve in the Office of the Provost as Special Assistant to the Provost for Sustainability, effective October 1, 2022. 

This appointment is a reflection of outcomes from the Sustainability Strategic Planning Process led by the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation. The aim of this process—which I supported in late 2021—was to determine how to most effectively advance a broad academic and research sustainability program to the benefit of our Pitt faculty, students, and community. In her role, Melissa will guide the process, ensuring broad input and alignment across schools and programs. 

As a University we have an ethical obligation to address the climate and equity challenges facing our world. As we engaged in a strategic planning process, I am pleased to say that at all levels we heard unanimous endorsement that sustainability must be a key driver in our education and research mission and outcomes.

Melissa Bilec is the William Kepler Whiteford Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering and Co-Director of the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation. She has published 139 peer-reviewed articles and secured $12 million in funding, including 15 National Science Foundation grants. Her research focuses on the sustainable built environment. Melissa is committed to exploring how the built environment can be an integral part of climate change solutions. She views the world and her research using a systems-level approach, and she is an expert in life cycle assessment. 

Using this view, Melissa integrates critical built environment modeling approaches from building energy modeling to indoor air quality to develop robust strategies to mitigate climate change and deleterious environmental and human health impacts. Most recently, she is working to solve the global waste challenge through the advancement and development of circular economy principles, since the built environment is a major consumer of resources and producer of waste.

Melissa is committed to diversity, inclusion, and equity. She is working to advance the issues around and the solutions to environmental justice in the City of Pittsburgh. She also co-leads her department’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access committee and is the co-faculty advisor for Pitt Society for Women Engineering. Melissa was awarded the School of Engineering Diversity Award 2017-2018 and received the Senior Vice Chancellor for Engagement’s Partnerships of Distinction Award in 2019.

Melissa has received four education excellence awards, and she developed the MS in Sustainable Engineering degree and co-developed a University-wide undergraduate certificate in sustainability. 

She is uniquely suited to work with the Office of the Provost as we work to  increase the impact of a broader University-wide center for sustainability—and as we examine how scaling up faculty hiring, sharing resources, and connecting our already strong constellation network can lead to greater impact.

Please join me in warmly welcoming Melissa to the Office of the Provost and to this significant new role.

Ann E. Cudd
Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor

Professor of Philosophy
University of Pittsburgh