Investing in Pitt: A Smart, Certain and Powerful Investment in Pennsylvania’s Future

Statement to the Appropriations Committee of the Senate of Pennsylvania
By University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Patrick Gallagher
February 26, 2019

I am honored to be here, sharing an important message with the committee on why investing in the University of Pittsburgh is a smart, certain and powerful investment in Pennsylvania’s future. 

To begin: The results of our latest economic impact report are in, and these data indicate that Pitt continues to serve as a major economic engine for the commonwealth. Each year, our University infuses $4.2 billion into Pennsylvania’s economy—all while supporting nearly 38,000 jobs across our five-campus system. And Pitt alumni who remain in the commonwealth inject an additional $114 billion into the economy over the course of their careers.

Beyond fueling Pennsylvania’s economy, Pitt continues to expand our roles as a research leader and innovation driver. In the last year alone, we drew an unprecedented $808 million in sponsored research into the state while setting institutional records in terms of startups produced, license and option deals secured, and invention disclosures filed. Not surprisingly, these accomplishments have helped to position Pitt as one of the world’s most innovative universities (Reuters) and one of the world’s top producers of U.S. utility patents (National Academy of Inventors and Intellectual Property Owners Association).

Our deep expertise in research—particularly research related to the health sciences—is one key reason why Pitt was tapped to help the commonwealth navigate a particularly devastating issue: opioid abuse and misuse. On this front, the University continues to traverse new ground. We created an Opioid Abuse Prevention and Recovery Task Force to study the epidemic, published two papers to share our findings and began putting these findings into motion on our own campuses. This work also included generating and advancing one of the nation’s most comprehensive frameworks for preventing, confronting and abating opioid use and abuse in a college environment today.     

Our impact on the commonwealth is not measured solely in terms of economics or research but also in terms of Pitt’s core mission: to make the world better through knowledge. Against this backdrop, students and alumni—and our institution—continue to thrive academically. In the last year alone, Pitt students and alumni earned more than 150 national and international honors, including the country’s first-ever Kanders Churchill Scholar. This group also included, for the 25th consecutive year, a Boren Awardee. In fact, more Pitt students than ever before—eight in all—earned this prestigious award last year. 

And, on an institutional level, this pattern of achievement has continued, with Pitt earning acclaim both nationally and internationally. Some recent examples of recognition on this front include being designated:          

  • one of the best universities in the world (U.S. News & World Report), 
  • a top public university in the Northeast—and the top public university in Pennsylvania (Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education), 
  • a best value (The Princeton Review) and
  • a top producer in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. 

The incredible news here is that our future looks even brighter. Pitt’s latest class, the Class of 2020, is our most academically accomplished incoming class. These students are also the most racially and ethnically diverse of any new class and count more female engineers as well as more engineers and nurses of color than any incoming class in Pitt’s history.    

Another point of great pride—and progress—is our University’s growing suite of programs aimed at making Pitt more accessible and affordable for Pennsylvania’s students and families. Last week, we added a seventh program to this list: The Pitt Success Pell Match Program. 

Through this program, which we believe is the only one of its kind in the nation, Pitt will begin matching federal Pell Grants dollar for dollar, up to the cost of attendance. In the initiative’s first year, which will kick off in fall 2019, the University’s investment in students and families with financial need will increase by 47 percent compared to just five years ago. 

This program will, without question, make a dramatic difference in the lives of Pennsylvania’s students and families. More than eight in every 10 Pitt students poised to benefit from the Pitt Success Pell Match Program are Pennsylvania residents. And at our four regional campuses—where nine out of every 10 students call the commonwealth home—the program is set to increase Pitt’s average need-based award by 114 percent compared to five years ago.  

All seven access and affordability programs that Pitt has launched or added in recent years aim to advance a common, bold and aggressive goal: To support a learning environment where the cost of attending a premier academic institution—the cost of attending Pitt—does not prevent the state’s best and brightest students from attending and thriving at one of our five campuses. 

It’s an environment that we are proud to invest in and one that—with the commonwealth’s continued support—we can realize for Pennsylvania’s students, families and future.   

Patrick Gallagher