Mark A. Nordenberg is chancellor and chief executive officer of the University of Pittsburgh. In this role, he heads one of the nation’s leading public research universities and one of the oldest institutions of higher learning west of the Allegheny Mountains. Chancellor Nordenberg is the University’s 17th chancellor, and the summer of 2012 marked the 17th anniversary of his move into the chancellor’s office.
Chancellor Nordenberg joined the University in 1977 as a faculty member in the School of Law. He served as dean of the law school from 1985 until 1993 and as interim provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs from 1993 to 1994. In 1994, he was elevated to the special faculty rank of Distinguished Service Professor. The University’s Board of Trustees elected him interim chancellor in 1995 and chancellor a year later.
In a surprise announcement at the annual meeting of the University’s Board of Trustees in June 2005, then-Board Chair Ralph J. Cappy (who died May 1, 2009) announced the establishment of the endowed Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg University Chair to honor the chancellor’s 10 years of leadership. The chair, the first of its kind at Pitt, is supported by a $2.5 million endowment made possible by the generous donations of Pitt trustees, board members of the Pitt Alumni Association, and other Pitt alumni and friends and will exist in perpetuity to advance faculty excellence at the University.
At the October 2012 meeting of the University's Board of Trustees, Board Chair Stephen R. Tritch surprised Chancellor Nordenberg when he announced the creation of the Mark A. Nordenberg Scholarship Fund for Pitt undergraduate students. The proclamation recognized Chancellor Nordenberg for his 17 years of leadership as Chancellor. At the time of the announcement, members of the Board and friends of the University had raised $5 million to create the fund. Income from the endowment, which also was established, will assist the University in its efforts to recruit, enroll, retain, and graduate highly motivated and academically superior undergraduate students. Recipients of merit-based scholarships from the fund will be known as Nordenberg Scholars.
Also at the meeting, the Board of Trustees passed a surprise resolution to name a new 10-story residence hall the Mark A. Nordenberg Hall. The building, which is under construction, is set to open in the fall of 2013.
Chancellor Nordenberg is an award-winning teacher. He was the first recipient of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law’s Excellence-in-Teaching Award, an award now presented annually by the Student Bar Association and the 1984 graduating class of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. In 1985, he was among the first recipients of the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award, recognizing teaching excellence University-wide. His area of scholarly specialty can be described broadly as civil litigation. He has published books, articles, and reports in that area and also has served as a member of both the U.S. Advisory Committee on Civil Rules and the Pennsylvania Civil Procedural Rules Committee.
Wide Range of Civic Activities
The chancellor is involved in a wide range of civic activities, including service on a number of boards, among them:
Allegheny Conference on Community Development
Association of American Universities
Pennsylvania Association of Colleges and Universities
Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education
Pittsburgh LifeSciences Greenhouse
The Technology Collaborative
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh
In 1997, Chancellor Nordenberg was honored as Person of the Year in Education by Vectors Pittsburgh. A year later, that same group selected him as Pittsburgh’s overall Person of the Year. In 1999, he was named as a Pittsburgh magazine Pittsburgher of the Year for his role as a policymaker and “champion of regionalism.”
Chancellor Nordenberg shared Pittsburgh magazine’s Pittsburgher of the Year award with Carnegie Mellon University President Jared Cohon in 2001. The award recognized the cooperative accomplishments of Nordenberg and Cohon in regional development initiatives.
In 2003, Chancellor Nordenberg and President Cohon shared honors again when they received the Person of Vision award, which is presented to outstanding community leaders by Pittsburgh Vision Services. Chancellor Nordenberg also has consistently been named one of the region’s top 10 business leaders by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Among Chancellor Nordenberg’s more recent awards are the Chief Executive Leadership Award from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, District II; the Nellie Leadership Award from Three Rivers Youth; the Kesher Award from the Edward and Rose Berman Hillel Jewish University Center, an award that he shared with Carnegie Mellon University President Cohon; the Bnai Zion Humanitarian Award from the Bnai Zion Foundation; the Homer S. Brown Law Association Spirit Award; the Senator John Heinz History Center's History Makers Award (Education); the Presidential Leadership Award from the Gordie Foundation and Outside the Classroom; and the Pittsburgh Area Jewish Committee's 2012 Community Impact Award, which Chancellor Nordenberg shared with President Cohon; and the 2013 Exemplary Leader Award from Pitt's Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership, which is part of the University's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. The chancellor chaired a Citizens Advisory Committee on the Efficiency and Effectiveness of City-County Government, which issued a report of its findings in 2008, and he was selected to cochair a search committee for the commissioner of the Big East Conference. He also serves on the 31-member Advisory Commission on Postsecondary Education created by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett.
Born in Duluth, Minn., Chancellor Nordenberg was educated at Thiel College (BA ’70) and the University of Wisconsin Law School (JD ’73). He has been married for more than 30 years to Nikki Pirillo Nordenberg, PhD, who maintains a counseling practice. The Nordenbergs have three adult children—Erin, Carl, and Michael.
Founded as the Pittsburgh Academy in 1787, and private through much of its history, Pitt became a state-related university in 1966. Today, the University of Pittsburgh system consists of its 132-acre campus located in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh and regional campuses in Bradford, Greensburg, Johnstown, and Titusville. Its more than 13,000 employees, including more than 5,000 faculty members, serve more than 32,000 students through the programs of 16 undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools.
Distinguished, Diverse Alumni
Pitt’s more than 250,000 living alumni have distinguished themselves in virtually every field of human endeavor, close to home and in more distant parts of the world. In recent years, Pitt graduates have received some of the world’s most prestigious awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize, which the late Wangari Muta Maathai (FAS ’65) won for her efforts to promote women’s rights and environmentalism in Kenya; the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, won by the late Paul C. Lauterbur (FAS ’62) for his work in developing the science that made magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) possible; the Shaw Prize in Life Science and Medicine and the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research, both won by Herb Boyer (FAS ’60, ’63) for his work in unlocking the secrets of recombinant DNA; and the John Fritz Medal, widely regarded as the world’s most prestigious engineering award, which was claimed by University Trustee John Swanson (ENGR ’66), who also was elected a distinguished member of the National Academy of Engineering.
Through the work of its alumni and as a result of the quality of its programs in disciplines as diverse as philosophy and transplantation surgery, Pitt has gained international recognition. It is a member of the Association of American Universities, an organization composed of the top 62 research universities in North America. The University is home to a number of major research centers and from FY 1995 to the current time, research funds have grown from $230 million to more than $800 million annually, placing Pitt among the country's top universities in the size and quality of its research program.
These are the funds that support much of Pitt’s pathbreaking research, that help generate jobs throughout the region, and that have enabled the University to increase its own employment base by more than 25 percent since 1995.
Pitt’s historic strength in research is based in such early achievements as the development of the Salk polio vaccine. The world drew a collective sigh of relief on April 12, 1955, when the vaccine was declared to be "safe, effective, and potent"—a proud and memorable moment in the region’s history.
Today, Pitt is home to the world’s largest and busiest organ transplant program and ranks fifth in the nation in terms of annual research support awarded by the National Institutes of Health.
Pioneering in International Education
The University of Pittsburgh has a proud tradition of pioneering work in international studies. Its European Union Center of Excellence—established in 1998 when Pitt won a national competition to host a European Union Center—promotes the study of the European Union, its institutions and policies, and EU-U.S. relations through teaching programs, scholarly research, and outreach activities. Pitt's University Center for International Studies (UCIS) is cited as one of the exemplary international programs in the country by the Council on Learning. Three of its component centers—the Center for Latin American Studies, the Center for Russian and East European Studies, and the Global Studies Center—are designated by the federal government as National Resource Centers and are thus among the top few centers of this kind in the nation. Pitt also holds the European Union delegation's 16-million-page library, making Pitt the premier location in North America for conducting research on the European Union.
Under Chancellor Nordenberg’s leadership, Pitt has enrolled its best-credentialed freshman class ever, drawn from the largest applicant pool in Pitt history. And, once enrolled, Pitt students are performing at the highest levels. Since 1995, in fact, Pitt undergraduates have won four Rhodes Scholarships, six Marshall Scholarships, one Gates Cambridge Scholarship, one Churchill Scholarship, and 38 Goldwater Scholarships—among the very highest honors available to American undergraduate students for academic achievement.
In October 2003, Prince Andrew of Great Britain visited Pittsburgh to personally designate the University a Marshall Center of Excellence. Reflecting the high levels of success earned by our Honors College students in the prestigious Marshall competition, the prince remarked, “in the Marshall competition [Pitt’s] candidates have regularly outperformed students from some of America’s most famous universities, including Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and the University of Pennsylvania.” Clearly, the presence of such a significant number of high-achieving students in each entering class enhances the learning environment for everyone.
The following year, Chancellor Nordenberg was appointed the British Honorary Consul in Pittsburgh by British Consul General Sir Philip Thomas. The chancellor’s role is to help strengthen the ties between the United Kingdom and businesses, educators, and researchers in Western Pennsylvania.
Largest Capital Campaign in Pitt History
In October 2000, the University launched the public phase of the largest capital campaign in its history, with the goal of raising $500 million by June 2003. In June 2002, Chancellor Nordenberg announced that the campaign had raced past that goal to raise $510 million fully one year early, achieving the largest capital campaign in the history of Western Pennsylvania. Based on the enthusiasm for, and success of, that phase of the campaign, the Board of Trustees voted to extend the campaign by an additional four years and increase its goal to $1 billion.
When the fundraising campaign began approaching its $1 billion goal about a year before its scheduled conclusion, Pitt’s Board of Trustees passed a resolution authorizing the University to extend the campaign, doubling its goal to $2 billion. The capital campaign passed the $1.85 billion mark in 2011 and surpassed its $2-billion goal in 2012. Pitt's Building Our Future Together campaign is the largest and most successful fundraising initiative in the history of Western Pennsylvania. It will continue through June 30, 2013, the end of the current "giving year."
The University of Pittsburgh is widely known as an institution of strong performance and high ambition. Its Board of Trustees has publicly proclaimed, “By aggressively supporting the advancement of Pitt’s academic mission, we will clearly establish that this is one of the finest and most productive universities in the world.” Since Chancellor Nordenberg assumed office in 1995, the University has made remarkable progress toward that goal.
And yet, with so many successes—Chancellor Nordenberg often observes—as far as Pitt has come, the University’s brightest days still lie ahead. Working together, the many people of Pitt are building an even stronger future for the University of Pittsburgh.