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Pitt welcomes Joan T.A. Gabel as its 19th chancellor

A portrait of Gabel

On Monday, July 17, Joan Gabel officially became Pitt’s 19th chancellor. Gabel comes to Pitt from the University of Minnesota System and Twin Cities campus, where she served as the president and chief executive since 2019.

“After months of preparation to step into the role of chancellor, I am thrilled to get started. I’ve long admired Pitt. And now I’m honored to begin collaborating with this amazing community of scholars, learners and innovators to lead the University of Pittsburgh into its next chapter,” she said.

Gabel brings to the role a distinguished track record of collaboration and innovation, including developing the University of Minnesota’s first comprehensive systemwide strategic plan, which led to a growth in annual research expenditures, startups and patents, as well as record-setting graduation rates and applications.

The impactful leader is also recognized for overseeing her former university’s completion of a 10-year, $4 billion capital campaign ahead of schedule and exceeding its goal by 10%.

Additionally, her tenure at the University of Minnesota is noted for the valuable partnerships she forged among the university, Mayo Clinic and Google, resulting in NXT GEN MED — a fast-track health sciences education initiative.

Gabel next to a Pitt shield

Progress is always in progress

When it comes to establishing priorities as the new chancellor, Gabel is ready to push the edge of what’s possible.

“What’s happening at Pitt is something special. There’s a level of energy and momentum that you can sense in all areas of the University’s mission. Research and scholarship are thriving, and that’s spilling over into regional economic development and community engagement. We’re drawing accomplished students in record numbers, and we’re investing in the student experience through our facilities, programming and academic support systems. I’m excited about committing new energy and new ideas to accelerate that progress,” she said.

Pitt is recognized as one of the top 10 research institutions in the United States, and Gabel plans to build on the University’s reputation as outlined in the Plan for Pitt. Also atop her agenda is raising Pitt’s economic impact and its position as an anchor institution in the region. In 2021 alone, the University contributed $5.2 billion to Pennsylvania’s economy.

Building a legacy

Born in New York, the graduate of Haverford College and the University of Georgia School of Law began her 27-year career in higher education as a professor of legal studies. She served as dean of business at the University of Missouri and provost at the University of South Carolina. 

Gabel has received numerous professional, research and teaching awards, including a Fulbright scholarship. She currently serves as vice chair for the Council on Competitiveness and on the boards of the American Council on Education, the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities and Fulbright, among others.


— Nichole Faina, photography by Aimee Obidzinski

Make your voice heard

Share your thoughts about Pitt with Chancellor Gabel via a feedback survey.