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Joan T.A. Gabel named 19th University of Pittsburgh chancellor

Gabel in a black blazer with a colorful scarf

Joan Gabel, president and chief executive of the University of Minnesota System and Twin Cities campus, will become the University of Pittsburgh’s 19th chancellor, Pitt’s Board of Trustees announced Monday.

Gabel will be the first woman to lead the University since its founding in 1787. She starts in July.

“I am excited and filled with optimism when I think of leading this institution into its important next chapter — to taking leaps when needed, and incremental steps as necessary, to ensure that every step we take, however large or small, moves us forward,” Gabel said. “I am humbled to have the opportunity to lead this world-class community of learners, leaders and discoverers from Pittsburgh and Bradford to Greensburg, Johnstown, Titusville and beyond.”

The election by the board was held this morning at Alumni Hall and concludes an extensive search launched after Chancellor Patrick Gallagher announced last year that he would step down in summer 2023 to transition to the faculty as a professor.

Meet Joan Gabel

Under Gabel’s leadership since 2019, the University of Minnesota developed its first comprehensive systemwide strategic plan that resulted in record-setting graduation rates and annual research expenditures, as well as increased numbers of startups and patents. She also oversaw the completion of a 10-year, $4 billion capital campaign that exceeded its goal by 10%.

During her tenure, transformational partnerships, such as the NXT GEN MED program between the university, Mayo Clinic and Google, produced reimagined research and student opportunities.  

The University of Minnesota, a land-grant institution spanning five campuses that serve more than 68,000 students, is one of the nation’s largest universities.

Prior to leading Minnesota, Gabel served as executive vice president for academic affairs and provost at the University of South Carolina from 2015 to 2019, and she was the University of Missouri's dean of the Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business from 2010 to 2015.

She began her teaching career in 1996 at Georgia State University, then joined Florida State University, where she was the DeSantis Professor of Legal Studies, chair of the Department of Risk Management/Insurance, Real Estate and Legal Studies and director of international relations within the College of Business.

Gabel has received numerous research, service and teaching awards, including a Fulbright. 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 the Fulbright Scholar Advisory Board, among others.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Haverford College and a Juris Doctor from the University of Georgia School of Law.

Gabel plans to relocate to Pittsburgh in the coming months and will be joined by her husband, Gary.

Chancellor-elect Gabel

‘Forward-thinking, innovative and driven’

Across the University, leaders shared their excitement over the new appointment.

Doug Browning, chair of the University of Pittsburgh Board of Trustees, noted that Gabel will be leading a university that’s recognized as one of the top 10 research institutions in the United States.

“I believe Pitt stands on the threshold of even greater accomplishments and achievements in the future under her guidance. She clearly reflects the vision, drive, experience and understanding of the issues and complexities of leading a major research university,” Browning said.

Trustee Eva Tansky Blum (A&S ’70, LAW ’73), who chaired the 26-person chancellor search committee composed of Pitt trustees, students, faculty, staff and alumni, said, “We are so fortunate to have Joan T.A. Gabel as Pitt's 19th chancellor. She brings deep experience and demonstrated success in higher education to our University. I am confident that she will build on the remarkable trajectory that Chancellor Gallagher established. I want to thank the search committee for their hard work and dedication over the last eight months."

Anantha Shekhar, vice chair of the search committee, senior vice chancellor for the health sciences, and the John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of the School of Medicine, said: “Joan T.A. Gabel is a natural leader. It was clear to me that she is forward-thinking, innovative and driven — the right leader for our University at this time and place. I am very much looking forward to welcoming her to Pitt and collaborating to forge new successes for all students, faculty, staff and community members under her leadership.”

The 18th and 19th chancellors

Gallagher described the selection of his successor as “the right leader to shape the University of Pittsburgh’s legacy and future. She has successfully led one of America’s top research universities and dedicated her career to supporting a university’s fundamental mission of creating and leveraging knowledge for society’s gain. I am grateful to our Board of Trustees for selecting Joan as Pitt’s next chancellor and thankful to be leaving our remarkable University and University community in Joan’s talented hands. I am confident that, under her guidance, Pitt’s brightest days lie ahead.”

When he steps down this summer, Gallagher will have served as chancellor for nine years — a period of dramatic growth and productivity for the University, despite a tumultuous higher education landscape.

For example, Pitt received the largest number of first-year undergraduate applications in its history this year. The average weighted GPA of its incoming first-year students also reached an all-time high (4.16) with the current first-year class.

In 2018, Pitt joined an elite cohort of U.S. institutions with more than $1 billion in annual research and development expenditures — a position it has maintained for four straight years, which places it among the top 10 public research institutions in the nation.

Gallagher announced in April 2022 his intent to transition to the faculty as a professor in Pitt’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.

The role of chancellor at the University of Pittsburgh is to direct one of the nation’s premier public institutions for higher education and research. The chancellor oversees a community of nearly 34,000 students at five distinct campuses. This leader also supports the work of more than 14,000 faculty and staff members committed to advancing the University’s legacy of academic excellence, community service and research innovation.


About the University of Pittsburgh

As one of the largest and oldest institutions of higher education in Pennsylvania, the University of Pittsburgh is a state-related public institution and a member of the Association of American Universities of leading research universities. With a total enrollment of more than 30,000 students on the Pittsburgh campus, Pitt is internationally respected as a center for learning and research that is consistently ranked by the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings as the top public university in the Northeast. Pitt consists of a campus in Pittsburgh — home to 16 undergraduate, graduate and professional schools — and four regional campuses located throughout Western Pennsylvania. Pitt offers nearly 500 distinct degree programs; serves more than 33,000 students; employs more than 14,000 faculty and staff; and awards 9,000 degrees systemwide. Students come to Pitt from all 50 states, three territories, the District of Columbia and more than 100 countries. Pitt’s inclusive community is an essential component of its excellence. Here, progress is always in progress.