Office of the Chancellor: Profile

Patrick Gallagher

Patrick Gallagher, PhD, is the 18th Chancellor and Chief Executive Officer of the University of Pittsburgh. He succeeded Mark A. Nordenberg, who stepped down as Chancellor on August 1, 2014, after leading Pitt for 19 years.

Chancellor Gallagher received a bachelor’s degree in physics and philosophy from Benedictine College, and he earned a PhD in physics at Pitt in 1991.

Following his nomination by President Barack Obama and his confirmation by the U.S. Senate, Chancellor Gallagher became Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in 2009 and was given the additional position of Undersecretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology in 2010. He served in both capacities until June 2014. During those years, he provided high-level direction for NIST, 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 also overlap with important work being done at the University of Pittsburgh.

On June 1, 2013, Chancellor Gallagher took on an additional role with the U.S. Department of Commerce when he was appointed Acting Deputy Secretary of Commerce by President Obama. In that capacity, he served as the chief operating officer for the Department, with overall responsibility for budget, planning, and operations, advancing the Department’s mission of helping to make American businesses more innovative at home and more competitive abroad.

In 2006, the U.S. Department of Commerce awarded him its Gold Medal for his leadership in interagency coordination efforts. While leading NIST, he initiated joint ventures with universities and put together a world-class research staff.

In 2013, Pitt awarded Chancellor Gallagher an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree in recognition of his contributions to advancing our nation through science and technology, and he received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Saint Vincent College in May 2014.

Prior to assuming the directorship of NIST, Chancellor Gallagher served in a number of capacities within 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, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Sigma Xi Honor Society, and Sigma Pi Sigma Honor Society.

While pursuing his graduate studies at Pitt, Chancellor Gallagher met his future wife, Karen Abrahamson, who was working in Pittsburgh as an occupational therapist. They were married in June of 1991 and are the parents of three boys.

Though born and raised in Albuquerque, N.M., Chancellor Gallagher has Pittsburgh roots in addition to his graduate studies at Pitt. His father was born in Ireland but moved with his family to be raised in Philadelphia, Pa., when he was 2 years old. His mother was born in Sunbury, Pa., and moved to Pittsburgh in 1950 with her family when she was 12 years old. His mother’s family—his grandparents, Adolf and Agnes Selter, and their five children, Claire (his mother), Judy, David, Greg, and Sue—grew up in the same house in the Carrick neighborhood of Pittsburgh. His mother went to school in Carrick at St. Basil’s through high school and then attended and received her RN from the Mercy Hospital School of Nursing. Even though his parents eventually met in Albuquerque, they returned to be married in Pittsburgh in September 1961.

Chancellor Gallagher has fond memories of visiting Pittsburgh on family vacations “back east” when he was growing up, including looking down the hill from his grandparents’ house at the trolley lines, visiting the zoo and museums downtown, trips to see the Pirates play at Three Rivers Stadium, trips on the Good Ship Lollipop, and visiting the “first real amusement park” in his life—Kennywood.

In 1971, his father required medical treatment at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md. So that his mother could be close to his father, he lived with his grandparents in Carrick for several weeks. During this time, he attended second grade classes at St. Basil’s grade school in Carrick—the same school that his mother had attended.

His grandparents lived in Pittsburgh, in the same house in Carrick, until their deaths—his grandmother in December 1996 and his grandfather in April 2011, at the age of 100 (just a few months short of his 101st birthday).