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New Dean of Students Named

  • Our City/Our Campus
  • Staff

Following a comprehensive national search, Carla Panzella has been named Pitt’s new dean of students, effective Aug. 2, 2021. 

Panzella is currently the associate vice president for student life and dean of students at Salem State University, where she has served since 2016. As the senior student affairs officer, she was responsible for leadership and development of key functional areas of student life to maximize student success, including persistence and retention, student satisfaction and student learning. 

At Salem State, she has led an organization of more than 70 professionals and staff from departments including athletics, campus life and recreation, career services, community standards, counseling and health services, leadership engagement advocacy and diversity, orientation, prevention education, advocacy response and residence life. Some of her major accomplishments at Salem State included developing a bias response and prevention team and developing and deploying a case management system for all students in response to COVID-19. 

In his announcement of the appointment, Vice Provost for Student Affairs Kenyon Bonner told colleagues and students that Panzella’s “collaborative style and enthusiasm, her dedication to diversity, equity and inclusion and her proven track record of innovation will provide fresh energy as we reignite the campus and the in-person Pitt experience for students in the fall. Carla stood out amongst the dozens of candidates in our national search as someone who would help drive the Pitt experience toward excellence with great care and compassion for our students, while also challenging and supporting our students and student affairs team to be their best selves. I am excited for Carla to join our Pitt family.”

In her new role at Pitt, Panzella will provide strategic and innovative leadership to key departments and staff and serve as an accessible and visible advocate for and with students, while cultivating a campus environment that is challenging, nurturing, inclusive and focused on the well-being and success of students. The dean will report to Kenyon Bonner, who will be assuming an expanded role in University leadership. Panzella also will take on a portion of Bonner’s current portfolio and will hold responsibility for the strategic direction and management of the Office of the Dean of Students, Student Care and Outreach, and the Offices of Residence Life, Student Life, New Student Programs, PittServes, and Cross Cultural and Leadership Development, which includes fraternity and sorority life.

“Pitt has a strong reputation for academic excellence and a quality student experience,” said Panzella. “The students and staff I met throughout the search process demonstrated their passion for Pitt and the desire for continuous growth, particularly related to diversity, equity, inclusion and justice. I am honored to serve and lead as the next dean of students with Dr. Bonner and the dedicated Student Affairs staff, continuing and evolving the tradition of a world-class student experience.”

Said Bonner: “Carla is experienced, student-centered, creative, compassionate, a strong communicator and a proven leader who has solid operational knowledge of and success in leading and managing a large student affairs team. Her evident care for others — including a strong commitment to the personal and professional well-being of Student Affairs staff — and the demonstrated ability to work effectively with a diverse range of students, staff, faculty, senior administrative colleagues, parents and local organizations and neighbors will strengthen our community at Pitt. We look forward to welcoming her to the University and Pittsburgh.”