University of Pittsburgh
February 8, 2014

Patrick D. Gallagher Named 18th Chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh

Contact:  412-624-4147

High resolution image(s) available >

PITTSBURGH—The University of Pittsburgh Board of Trustees today unanimously elected Patrick D. Gallagher, PhD, the 18th Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer of the University of Pittsburgh. The vote took place during a special meeting of the Board of Trustees.

Gallagher, age 50, currently serves as Acting Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce and Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). He will succeed Mark A. Nordenberg, who is stepping down as Chancellor on August 1, 2014, after leading Pitt for 19 years.

"This is an important moment for the University of Pittsburgh," said Stephen R. Tritch, Chair of the Board of Trustees. "In Dr. Patrick Gallagher, we have an individual who brings exceptional experience to the position along with an impressive background in promoting partnerships that develop innovation and support research and other academic pursuits to advance the greater good of society. Coupled with that, he has a deep understanding and commitment to the mission and values that are the essence of the University of Pittsburgh. All of this makes him superbly qualified to build on the tremendous progress and positive momentum that Pitt achieved under the leadership of Chancellor Nordenberg."

Gallagher was appointed Acting Deputy Secretary of the Department of Commerce by President Barack Obama on June 1, 2013. In that capacity, he serves as the chief operating officer for the Department, with overall responsibility for budget, planning, and operations. The mission of the Department, which has a total operating budget of over $10 billion and has 40,000 federal employees, is to help make American businesses more innovative at home and more competitive abroad.

As Director of NIST, a position he has held since 2009, Gallagher provides high-level direction for the agency, which promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology. Many of NIST’s areas of priority—including manufacturing, information technology and cybersecurity, energy, health care, the environment and consumer safety, and physical infrastructure—not only reflect high national priorities but overlap with important work being done at the University of Pittsburgh. 

NIST employs about 3,000 scientists, engineers, and other staff at its two main locations in Gaithersburg, Md., and Boulder, Colo. NIST also hosts about 2,700 associates from academia, industry, and other government agencies who collaborate with NIST staff and access user facilities. In 2013, Pitt awarded Gallagher an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree in recognition of his contributions to advancing our nation through science and technology.

"I am deeply honored to have been chosen to lead the University of Pittsburgh," Gallagher said. "Public service has been an underlying value throughout my career, and I can think of no higher form of public service than leading this great university. I am proud to be an alumnus of this fine institution, and I have been impressed with the excellence of the education, scholarship, and research here at Pitt ever since I was here working on my PhD. My respect for the University and what has been accomplished here has continued to grow over the years. I am excited by the opportunity to contribute to Pitt’s continued progress and future success. It is clear to me that much of the success that Pitt has achieved has been the result of the spirit of cooperation and collaboration that exists among all parts of the University community. Over the years, I have been committed to supporting collaborative efforts, and I look forward to being a part of the Pitt family as we continue to work together to move the University forward."

Eva Tansky Blum, Board of Trustees Vice Chair and Chair of the Search Committee, noted that Gallagher’s track record of collegiality and collaboration was one of his defining strengths. "In 2006, the U.S. Department of Commerce awarded him its Gold Medal for his leadership in interagency coordination efforts. He has initiated joint ventures with universities; he put together a world-class research staff at NIST; and he directed a reorganization at NIST, achieving consensus from all the affected people in the process," she said.

"In Patrick Gallagher, our Trustees have chosen as Pitt’s next Chancellor someone who has built a distinguished career in public service and also has special ties to our University," Chancellor Nordenberg said. "Dr. Gallagher’s work in promoting scientific innovation and economic development, his familiarity with federal laboratories and agencies, and his international experience all should position him to help propel Pitt through another exciting period of progress and impact. And having built the foundation for his own life on a Pitt education, he will naturally place a high priority on the student experience. He also is known as a principled and effective leader who is respected and admired by his colleagues. I have been very impressed by him in our past interactions and, like others who care about Pitt, stand ready to assist him in any way that I can."

Prior to assuming the directorship of NIST, Gallagher served in a number of capacities with that agency, including deputy director, director of the NIST Center for Neutron Research, and leader of the Research Facilities Operation Group in the Center for Neutron Research as well as a NIST agency representative at the National Science and Technology Council. He is a member of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Sigma Xi Honor Society, and the Sigma Pi Sigma Honor Society.

He worked as a research assistant at the University of Pittsburgh and he received his PhD in physics from Pitt in 1991. Prior to joining NIST in 1993, he worked as a research associate at Boston University.

When Gallagher takes over as Chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh on August 1, he will inherit the leadership of an institution that has established an impressive record of progress and achievement. For example:

  • undergraduate applications and the credentials of enrolled students have soared;
  • faculty and students regularly receive the highest forms of national and international recognition;
  • Pitt ranks among the top U.S. universities in terms of federal science and engineering research and development support attracted by its faculty;
  • the University has been a driving force in the economic transformation of the Pittsburgh region; and
  • Pitt receives regular national recognition as a “best value” university.


Gallagher received a bachelor’s degree in physics and philosophy from Benedictine College. Before his graduate studies at Pitt, he taught science and math at a high school in St. Joseph, Mo., where he also served as head coach for the cross-country track team. He lives in Brookeville, Md., with his wife, Karen, and their three sons.