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Phil Bakken named Pitt’s vice chancellor and secretary to the Board of Trustees


After a comprehensive search process, the University of Pittsburgh has selected Phil Bakken as vice chancellor and secretary to the Board of Trustees. His start date is June 28, pending approval of his appointment from the board.

Bakken, who comes from a family with three generations of educators, serves as the chief of staff to the president and corporation secretary to the Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska System. He succeeds Paul Supowitz, who has served as secretary on an interim basis since September in addition to his permanent duties as special assistant for strategic initiatives in the Office of the Chancellor.

“Phil brings to Pitt an extensive and impressive record of experience in higher education,” said Chancellor Joan Gabel, who chaired the search committee. “I look forward to working with him as a member of the leadership team as he extends Paul’s great work of shepherding the board’s activities during an important time for our University.”

As secretary, Bakken will advise and facilitate the work of the board in exercising its duties of oversight of University affairs and promotion of its charitable, scientific and educational purposes.

“I’m excited and honored to join the University of Pittsburgh team,” said Bakken. “I look forward to working with Chancellor Gabel, Chair-elect Verbanac and the entire Board of Trustees to help advance the next steps in the governance review initiative.

“Effective governing boards help universities raise their ambitions by drawing on their board members’ diverse skills, perspectives and backgrounds. The board’s governance review work establishes a solid foundation upon which we can build a nation-leading model of board governance and realize the ambitious vision of the reimagined Plan for Pitt.”

Bakken has held roles of increasing responsibility at the University of Nebraska System, including president of the University Technology Development Corporation, interim assistant vice president for budget, special assistant to the president and industry relations coordinator. The industry relations coordinator role earned him the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Invaluable Service at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

His post-baccalaureate career took root at the Arbor Day Foundation, where he gained valuable experience in development work. Bakken has a bachelor’s degree in economics and a Master of Business Administration, both from Nebraska Wesleyan University, which recognized him with a Young Alumni Achievement Award in 2022.

He serves as a member of the executive council for the Nebraska Statewide Workforce and Educational Reporting System, board chair for Invest Nebraska and assistant secretary-treasurer for the Nebraska Defense Research Corporation.