Adam K. Leibovich has been named the new Bettye J. and Ralph E. Bailey Dean of the University of Pittsburgh’s Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and College of General Studies, effective July 1, 2023. Leibovich is currently the school’s Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development and a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Since 2022, Leibovich has also been director of the Pittsburgh Quantum Institute, a collaborative interdisciplinary organization that advances research, education, and training in quantum science and engineering.
A prolific scholar and award-winning teacher, Leibovich received his undergraduate degree in physics from Cornell University in 1992 and his doctorate in theoretical physics from California Institute of Technology in 1997. From 1997-2000 he was a postdoctoral fellow at Carnegie Mellon University and from 2000-2002 a postdoctoral research fellow at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab). While at Fermilab, he was a visiting postdoctoral fellow at MIT and a visiting postdoctoral fellow at CMU. In 2003 he joined the faculty of Pitt’s Department of Physics and Astronomy as an assistant professor. He became the Department Chair in 2015 and associate dean in 2017.
Leibovich’s extensive experience in teaching, research, and administration have helped to shape the priorities he’s set for his Deanship:
- Improve disciplinary and interdisciplinary research, creative activities, and educational opportunities.
- Build the Dietrich School’s strengths by recruiting and retaining outstanding faculty, updating infrastructure, fundraising, and alumni engagement.
- Create an inclusive environment that is welcoming to our faculty, staff, and students.
While his appointment as Dean provides him with the opportunity to have a significant impact on the future of the Dietrich School and CGS, Leibovich’s six years as associate dean already include a number of noteworthy accomplishments: he worked to improve undergraduate and graduate education; hired and retained excellent faculty across the disciplines; helped faculty in obtaining funding for research; led the efforts to create a promotion ladder for Instructors and retitling of Teaching Faculty; brought learning opportunities for faculty to Pitt; connected disparate disciplines to enhance research and education; and, worked across units to secure funding for shared research equipment.
Says Leibovich, “My aim has always been to support our Pitt community and I will bring this foundational ethic to my new role to continue the enhancement of opportunities for our faculty, staff, and students.”
Known as an enthusiastic and dynamic professor, Leibovich is a past winner of the Dietrich School’s highest honor for undergraduate teaching, the Tina and David Bellet Teaching Excellence Award. He was named an Honors College Faculty Fellow in 2015 and is the recipient of a University of Pittsburgh Innovation in Education Award. He has supervised numerous undergraduate and graduate students, been graduate thesis advisor or co-advisor for 11 doctoral candidates, and served on more than 50 dissertation committees.
Offers Leibovich, “I have been a passionate teacher ever since I was an undergraduate when I was a tutor for a drop-in service for all introductory physics classes at Cornell. When I teach a class, I try to make it a comfortable atmosphere for students to ask questions and interact. I try to encourage them to participate, make the room feel comfortable for them. You want students to have an appreciation and love for the material. If students can’t feel your love for the subject, how are they supposed to be motivated to learn.”
Leibovich plans to bring that same energy and spirit of inclusivity to his Deanship.
“Fundamentally, the responsibility of a leader is to promote the excellence and well-being of a unit. Effective decision making requires open and honest dialogue from a diversity of voices. I have consistently facilitated collaborative, inclusive environments through a relational approach to leadership, an emphasis on equity, and ensuring all voices within units are heard. I lead by example and always strive, whenever possible, to be a consensus builder.”
Leibovich will step into his role during a time of transition for the Dietrich School and CGS as well as the University of Pittsburgh, with a new Chancellor, a new budget model, and a newly unionized faculty.
“We are, in many ways, positioned very well—as a school and a University. Our students are high-achieving and undergraduate and graduate enrollments are strong; our faculty are among the country’s top-rated in their respective disciplines, and they are effective at securing funding for their research; CGS has incredible growth potential in the online education market; our staff are committed and extremely competent. And we can do even better. I want to build on our values while showcasing our value.”
Though his 20 years as a faculty member and administrator have provided him with deep and broad institutional knowledge and understanding of the Dietrich School and CGS, Leibovich is eager to learn more and gather insights from a wide range of perspectives.
According to Leibovich, “I have always had a love for learning. Clearly, I enjoy learning physics, but my interests are broader than that. I am fascinated by the sciences, but I also enjoy literature and the arts. I’m an avid reader of everything from science fiction to history to mythology. This love of learning is part of why I entered administration, so I could learn more about the research people are doing, first in my home department and then in the school. Now I get to continue that process on an even larger scale.”
He plans to start his tenure with an extensive listening tour that will include faculty, students, and staff. He is also looking forward to meeting Dietrich and CGS alumni and involving them even more in the life of the school and college.
Says Leibovich, “I want to enhance the channels of communication from our administration to our internal and external communities. At the same time, I want to hear from people throughout the school and college about what we can do to remove obstacles and create opportunities for them to succeed. As part of that commitment, one of my first actions will be instituting monthly office hours.”
The mid-summer start date provides Leibovich with time to work with current Dean Kathleen M. Blee to ensure that the transition will be seamless and efficient. It also gives him a chance to take a family vacation before beginning his new job.
“I’m excited and honored and eager to get started,” Leibovich admits. “I’ll be ready to hit the ground running.”
from the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences.