Chatham University anoints a new president for the first time in more than two decades this week. Dr. David Finegold will become the school's first male leader since the historically female-only college began accepting male graduate students in 1994.
A Harvard University graduate and Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, Finegold spent more than 30 years in higher education. He said he believes the school is well poised to continue its tradition of advocating for gender equity in a coed environment.
“The world is dramatically different than when Chatham was created nearly 150 years ago,” Finegold said. “At that time, as the Pennsylvania Female College, there were almost no opportunities for young women to get a degree. Today, women outnumber men at every level of higher ed, but where they’re underrepresented are on the things we’re focusing on.”
Finegold said the school’s Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship and Women’s Institute have helped solidify the university as a top site for women’s leadership and education. In July, the online publication College Magazine ranked Chatham No. 3 for “Aspiring Women Leaders." But, Finegold said, there is still work to do in bringing women into political and business roles where they are still notably underrepresented.
“We’re doing more than ever to address the issues,” Finegold said. “It’s just in the context where we’re educating both young men and young women.”
Chatham's student population hovers around 2,100 graduate and undergraduate students at its Shadyside, Bakery Square and Eden Hall campuses. The school began enrolling male undergraduates in 2015.
Since it was announced that he would be taking over for outgoing-president Dr. Esther Barazzone last year, Finegold has been on what he called a “listening tour” with students, staff and the Pittsburgh community. Through those conversations, he said he decided to focus on growing Chatham’s environmentally sustainable Eden Hall campus in the North Hills, increase the number of annual and endowed scholarships and expand partnerships with local corporations.
Pam Bradley, president of the Chatham Alumni Association, said she's been impressed with Finegold and his commitment to the Chatham community.
"As women, we found our voices, as it were, and found that we could do whatever we wanted to do in the world and Chatham was what made us feel that way," Bradley said. "What we've realized is David respects all of that. He really wants to understand what alumni believe makes Chatham special."
Bradley said she'd like to see Finegold continue to promote Chatham on the national stage and is confident in his leadership.
“We’re really encouraging folks who think they align with our mission in terms of promoting social justice and promoting jobs and development in Pittsburgh to reach out,” Finegold said.
Learn more about his career and background here.