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Pitt Chancellor Announces Retirement

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(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Harold Hayes Harold Hayes
Harold Hayes joined KDKA-TV in August of 1979 as a general assignment...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark Nordenberg announced Friday that he is stepping down as chancellor of the university.

After his usual summary of university activities during his report at the Pitt Trustee Board meeting, Chancellor Nordenberg referred to a lot of what has changed since 1995.

As he took his seat after his original report, he said, “And it has been my honor to travel that triumphant path with you. And I extend my thanks. Thank you very much.”

By meeting’s end, everyone then understood the nostalgia. He announced, at age 64, his plans to step down as chancellor.

“I think that we’ve reached a level of relative stability,” said Nordenberg. “I think it is in the best interest of the university to begin looking for leadership that can successfully guide the institution for a longer period of time than is left for me.”

It was 1995 when he took over from then-Chancellor J. Dennis O’Connor, who had a short but controversial tenure.

Since then, Nordenberg could point to increases in full-time enrollment from 27,000 to 32,781.

Freshmen applications increased from 7,825 in 1995 to 27,676 this year. And the university’s endowment has shot up from $463 million in 1995 to $2.99 billion now.

He acknowledged he has mixed emotions about his decision, but sometimes put a humorous spin on it all.

“I think you ought to approach it with a typical Pitt attitude,” said Nordenberg. “It’s a better university; you ought to be able to find a better chancellor.”

The crowd laughed.

He said he was proud that he was able to change the culture of the university and cited steadily decreasing funding from the state as one of his challenges.

But he said his biggest challenge was what happened during the past year when anonymous bomb threats disrupted the campus.

“Certainly dealing with the bomb threats was very difficult because here are students who are being placed in a vulnerable position. You can’t know what it is like unless you have been there to walk into the Petersen Center in the middle of the night to see it literally filled with students who’ve been displaced from the comfort and safety of their residence hall rooms.”

The board has begun the process of setting up a search committee to find his successor. His retirement is effective Aug. 1, 2014.

While Nordenberg is stepping down as chancellor, university officials say he will continue at Pitt in a teaching capacity.

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald spoke out Friday after Nordenberg’s statement.

“Mark’s contributions to the University, the City of Pittsburgh, our County and region have been truly remarkable,” he said in a statement. “Words cannot really express the impact that his work on behalf of the University and our county and region has made.”

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