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Pitt trustees decide to purchase historic property, support 5-year plan

University of Pittsburgh trustees voted Thursday to create a new headquarters building for one of its schools, buy a historic site in Oakland and endorse a five-year strategic plan.

The University of Pittsburgh trustees voted on Thursday to establish a new main building for one of its schools, acquire a significant location in Oakland, and approve a strategic plan that spans five years.

Gathering at the university’s Oakland campus, trustees gave the green light to convert a building currently being constructed at Fifth Avenue and Halket Street into the new central office for the School of Health and Rehabilitation Services.

With more than 1,800 undergraduate and graduate students, the school is one of the university’s largest, with its programs currently being housed in seven separate buildings.

The new six-story, 159,000-square-foot location — scheduled for completion by December 2025 — will enable the school to bring its operations together. The project has a budget of $75 million.

Pitt will also buy the former Pittsburgh Athletic Association property on Fifth Avenue following the board's approval of a $34 million deal for the vacant building.

The eight-story, 130,000-square-foot facility, situated on the university’s Oakland campus, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The property was purchased by Walnut Capital in 2018.

Officials did not immediately outline specific plans for the property. However, Dave DeJong, senior vice chancellor for business and operations, described the impending purchase as a “rare and unique opportunity” to own the historic property.

Trustees also unanimously backed a five-year strategic effort for the university, known as the Plan for Pitt.

The effort is viewed as contributing to enhancing Pitt’s national reputation.

The board approved Joseph J. McCarthy as provost and senior vice chancellor.

McCarthy was appointed to the position in March, pending board approval, and has been serving in the role in an acting capacity since last July.

Trustees also agreed to appoint Phil Bakken as Pitt’s new vice chancellor and secretary for the board of trustees. He currently works for the University of Nebraska System.

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