Social Justice

"To the University of Pittsburgh’s African American students, faculty, staff and alumni: We stand with you in demanding better and are committed to working with you to make meaningful changes."

— Chancellor Patrick Gallagher

Pitt's Early Actions: Highlights

The Plan for Pitt

In a message to the Pitt community in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, Chancellor Gallagher announced that the University would reevaluate the 2025 strategic plan to ensure that issues of race and equity would be appropriately addressed. We are gathering input to ensure that these initiatives are incorporated.

Partnering with Students

Over the summer, students engaged with leaders across the University to forge new ways to improve and enhance the Black student experience at Pitt. After a series of discussions, Vice Provost and Dean of Students Kenyon Bonner responded to the students on behalf of the University in August. Actions resulting from this ongoing dialogue include the following:

  • All first-year students on the Pittsburgh and Bradford campuses have been automatically enrolled in Anti-Black Racism: History, Ideology and Resistance, a new one-credit course designed to introduce students to the established tradition of scholarship focused on the Black experience and Black cultural expression. More than 5,000 students are currently enrolled in the course, and students on the Greensburg and Johnstown campuses may elect to take the course as well.
  • Formation of the People’s Voice Committee. This committee, made up of students, faculty and staff, and facilitated by the senior vice chancellor for engagement and secretary to the Board of Trustees, is charged to ensure that progress is being made, and programs and processes are being implemented to create a more just University.
  • Expanding Black student membership on the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Public Safety. This committee reviews policies and procedures used by Pitt police, seeks to examine and understand the community’s perspective on local and national issues of public safety, researches and discusses best practices for conducting police activity on campus, and makes recommendations to the chancellor regarding University action. Pitt Police are also working with Student Affairs to expand their outreach to Black students and student representatives.
  • The Public Art Committee has been engaged in a project with members of the Black Senate to create a mural. The mural's location is to be determined.
  • The senior vice chancellor for engagement, working with local and campus artists, will create an art installation entitled “Don’t Look Away: Mattering is the Minimum.” All Pitt campuses will have an opportunity to host the installation.

After listening to concerns from medical school students and faculty, Pitt's senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine, Anantha Shekhar, made racial equity a top priority. Some of the resulting actions include the following:

  • The School of Medicine convened a Rapid Response Team to review concerns raised by Black medical students.
  • An Office of the Ombudsperson for the Health Sciences Schools was created to offer confidential and anonymous support to students of these schools.
  • A Dean’s Scholarship in the School of Medicine was created that covers four years of tuition costs, as well as living stipends and travel funds, for up to three students underrepresented in medicine, with guaranteed support for two Black medical students, annually.
Faculty Diversity and Development

Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Ann E. Cudd appointed John Wallace, the David E. Epperson Endowed Chair of the School of Social Work, as vice provost for faculty diversity and development.

Wallace and Paula Davis, assistant vice chancellor for health science diversity, are spearheading the development of a major initiative focused on the recruitment of Black faculty members and faculty who focus on issues of race and anti-racism. A proposal, with input from deans and faculty members across campus, will be finalized soon. Comprehensive faculty diversity data is available on this website.

Reinventing Pitt's Office of Diversity and Inclusion

In the coming weeks, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion will become the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. This change, spearheaded by newly appointed Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion Clyde Pickett, reflects new supportive programming that implements and advances equity and inclusion strategies.

This year, Pitt’s annual Diversity Forum event was re-invented as a fully online gathering. Participation exceeded expectations, with more than 12,000 Pitt faculty and staff members, students, alumni and interested stakeholders from all over the world participating. Feedback from this forum has been incredibly positive. We intend to keep this a virtual conference next year. You can view all of the forum sessions here.

The Office of Diversity and Inclusion is also working to ensure that all students, particularly Black students, are aware of how to report acts of racism.

Increasing Diversity Procurement Across the University

The University's Office of Financial Operations is providing all Pitt responsibility centers with tools to increase their diversity spending. A diversity spending dashboard is included in this site.

Admissions and Financial Aid

Pitt has set a goal of increasing the Black undergraduate population on the Pittsburgh campus within five years. We are also committed to closing retention and graduation gaps between Black and white students. A dashboard of student diversity data is available on this site.

Early work to refine our holistic admissions process is also underway. We will align with school and program goals and reduce or eliminate reliance on SAT/ACT or GRE tests as a factor in determining admissions.

Listening to Our Students, Faculty and Staff

Chancellor Gallagher and other senior leaders have met with multiple student groups, faculty and staff to learn more about the Black experience at Pitt.

Senior Pitt leaders met over two days to explore ways the University can become a truly anti-racist institution. This retreat provided an invaluable opportunity to hear from Black faculty, staff and students and to more fully understand perspectives, challenges and lived experiences at Pitt to better inform the actions necessary to achieve our goals. Several new initiatives and ideas from this retreat are captured on this website and others will be announced in the future.