A Message from Provost Ann. E. Cudd
October 4, 2018
Dear Panther Nation:
I have experienced an amazing first month since officially assuming the role of Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor on September 1. Thanks to each and all who have warmly welcomed and helped me in these early weeks!
As I’m sure you can imagine, these first days have been filled with many, many meetings and visits during my listening tour to collect insights into the breadth of exciting programs and activities on the campuses and to build new relationships across the University. To date, I’ve had the opportunity to become better acquainted with each of the regional campuses; meet and talk with new and seasoned faculty; join graduate and undergraduate students’ orientations; and to sit down one-on-one with students and student groups, senior leadership, members of the Board of Trustees, our deans, and more.
And I’m also looking forward to the many conversations that are yet to come. I’m especially eager to connect more deeply with faculty at the upcoming Faculty Open Houses—3:00–5:00 p.m., October 8, at the University Club, and 3:00–5:00-p.m., October 16, at the Petersen Events Center Campus View Club.
Our mission as a public research university—to promote learning and inquiry and to extend knowledge and scholarship—is noble and essential to a great society. My visits with students, faculty, and staff in these early days have underscored the profound ways we are doing just that—and they reinforced my deep commitment to doing even more in the years ahead.
One very interesting part of our way forward includes preparing for the growth and transformation of our Pittsburgh campus to further support Pitt’s mission. We are building a roadmap for Pitt’s future through the new Campus Master Plan—an incredibly dynamic process that involves thinking about the ways our architecture and Oakland footprint will move us forward. For this process to be effective, it is important to hear as much feedback as possible from students, faculty, staff, and our local community. Information sessions will be held October 8 and October 9. Don’t miss the chance to participate; you can sign up at campusplan.pitt.edu. Please visit that same site to learn more about the Master Plan and to submit your comments online.
Homecoming is this weekend—always a festive time filled with events and activities welcoming back our alums and engaging the Pitt community in powerful ways. From the Cathedral (“Cathy”) to football, to networking and so much more, it’s a time for reconnecting and sharing our commitment to Pitt!
Someone once said, “Homecoming unites the past and the present.” Personally and professionally, this observation really resonates for me. I’m delighted to return to Pitt, my alma mater, as its seventh Provost—and to be a part once more of this great University in a dynamic city, with a charismatic, ambitious Chancellor, a supportive Board of Trustees, a world-class faculty, and smart, earnest students.
To accomplish our best work for Pitt, I think it is so important that we share a common vision. For that reason, I want to share my initial priorities with you, knowing that I will certainly add more to this list:
Priority #1: Build on Excellence in Teaching and Research
We can build on Pitt’s academic excellence through its personalized education initiative, and I look forward to supporting the further development and rollout of all aspects emerging under this exciting and important plan.
I’m also a strong advocate of active learning and other evidence-based teaching methods. I’m committed to these models because of clear research showing that having students apply ideas as they learn them makes the ideas stick. I plan to champion this through the efforts of the Center for Teaching and Learning to help faculty develop teaching techniques, through appropriate classroom renovations, and through the coding of classes so students can find these experiences.
I support the development and growth of the new School of Computing and Information, SCI, as well. Together with the Vice Chancellor for Research, Rob Rutenbar, I endorse the signature initiative of MoMaCS—the Modeling and Managing Complicated Systems Institute—and I am working with Dean Paul Cohen to support an aggressive hiring program in the school, as well as accepting freshman admissions in fall 2019.
On a related note, as the Chancellor has stressed, we at Pitt need to raise our game when it comes to getting large, multi-center grants that address grand challenges. I am working with the Vice Chancellor for Research, as well as our deans and faculty, to identify and support such efforts.
I also look forward to continuing to get to know our regional campuses even better so that I can champion and support their essential contributions to our mission. The dedicated faculty and staff—and talented students—on each campus are inspiring, and I look forward to many repeat visits to Greensburg, Johnstown, Bradford, and Titusville.
Priority #2: Diversity and Inclusion
Diversity is not just a word; it’s a critical ingredient in excellence and requires a plan to achieve. Diversity serves the goal of excellence by bringing different ideas, critical perspectives, challenges, and ways of life together. Because of this, diverse groups are more productive and more innovative. What’s more, a diverse environment helps students learn how to make the most out of these interactions and to navigate a global world of diverse cultures and people.
Actively pursuing diversity serves the goal of justice and providing equal opportunity for all individuals, in a setting where people are judged and rewarded for their personal contributions and talents, not their ascribed identities.
Some of the areas of diversity that we need to strive for include increasing the population of:
- International students: I think a good goal for Pitt would be 10 percent in the next two to three years. This Year of PittGlobal also enables us to turn our attention to measurable increases.
- Underrepresented minorities among faculty, staff, and students.
- Low-income students (Pell-eligible): We need to continue to serve and grow the numbers.
- Students from beyond Pennsylvania.
This will require recruitment, scholarship dollars, and continuing efforts to make the campus inclusive and welcoming. We can do it!
Priority #3: Visibility and Prestige
When it comes to university rankings, Pitt ranks well in a number of national and international rankings—but there is more work to do. One step involves clarifying and promoting our institutional identity by exploring questions such as: What does Pitt stand for? How can we communicate how special the Pitt experience is? How can we help others know why it is so important to invest in Pitt’s mission?
We have an amazing story to tell—and this year we have a great opportunity to work together to create new ways to embrace it and share it. It will be a community effort.
I look forward to regularly sending messages like this one in the months ahead. But beyond that, I am committed to engaging in ongoing and significant dialogues across all campuses. Please feel free to reach out to me at any time through email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by phone (412-624-4223).
Hail to Pitt!
Ann E. Cudd
Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor