Richard T. Esch, president of the University of Pittsburgh’s Bradford and Titusville campuses, receives the presidential medal from Ann Cudd, University of Pittsburgh provost and senior vice chancellor, as Chancellor Patrick Gallagher looks on during the inauguration Sunday on the Pitt-Bradford campus. Photo submitted.

Esch Inaugurated as Pitt-Bradford, Pitt-Titusville President

September 26, 2022

BRADFORD, Pa. – Richard T. Esch was inaugurated as president of the University of Pittsburgh’s Bradford and Titusville campuses Sunday afternoon as faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community supporters cheered and gave him a standing ovation.

Esch’s many university colleagues and friends joined him Sunday afternoon in the KOA Arena in the Richard E. and Ruth McDowell Sport and Fitness Center for what was a historic event – the first time a Pitt-Bradford alumnus has been appointed president. Esch, a 1983 Pitt-Bradford graduate, also has an MBA from Pitt’s Katz School of Business Executive MBA program.

Before hanging the presidential medallion around Esch’s neck during the investiture portion of the event, University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Patrick Gallagher praised Esch for his commitment to Pitt-Bradford and the progress that had been made at both campuses under his leadership.

“Rick has built a distinguished career that has revolved around this campus,” Gallagher said. “For nearly 30 years, he gave others a chance at the same life-changing opportunities that he had.”

“I am confident that both campuses will thrive under your leadership. This is a place that inspires a sense of community, and I can’t think of anyone more fitting to be president than Rick Esch,” he said.

Pitt Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Ann Cudd praised Esch as a servant leader who focuses on the growth and well-being of the people in his communities.

She said that following Esch’s appointment as interim president in 2021, “there was a groundswell of support – from the faculty and staff on both campuses, in the surrounding communities, and with his colleagues on the Pittsburgh campus.”

Two of Esch’s longtime colleagues at Pitt-Bradford, Dr. Livingston Alexander, president emeritus at Pitt-Bradford and Pitt-Titusville, and Dr. K. James Evans, retired vice president and dean of student affairs, also spoke.

“Rick was nurtured by this campus as an undergraduate,” Alexander said, “and his growth and maturity as a professional and as a leader occurred during nearly three decades of service to this campus,” he said.

Esch served as vice president of business affairs during Alexander’s 15 years as Pitt-Bradford president. Alexander retired from that role in 2018.

“I’ve waited over four years for the opportunity to pass the torch,” Alexander added, “and I can’t think of a person more perfectly positioned, more perfectly suited to assume the role of leader of this campus than Rick Esch.”

Evans recalled how he first met Esch in 1979 in the campus snack bar then known as the Pitt Stop when Esch was a nontraditional commuter student.

Evans said that Esch’s work ethic – working full time while putting himself through college – made him stand out then, and continued to make him stand out.

“When there was a critical need for new leadership at Pitt-Bradford and Pitt-Titusville just over a year ago, independently members of the faculty and staff at both campuses, along with members of the Advisory Board, Alumni Association, retirees, community leaders, donors, and supporters, and individuals in government, business and industry all said, ‘Rick Esch’s time has come – he has everything it takes that would make an outstanding president.’”

Evans ended his remarks with a prediction: “President Esch will become one of the most successful and most productive presidents in the history of Pitt’s regional campus system. Just wait and see – I believe that under President Esch’s leadership, the best is yet to come.”

After receiving a standing ovation and cheers from the faculty, staff, students, and supporters in attendance, Esch expressed gratitude for the confidence in him and the Pitt-Bradford leaders who came before him.

“For 59 years, this institution has served as the pathway to a better life for the sons and daughters of the people of this region and others around the Commonwealth,” he said. “Let us regard this moment as a time to also celebrate the legacy, traditions, and strengths of the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford and the University of Pittsburgh at Titusville.”

Esch mentioned by name each of his predecessors, noting that they led Pitt-Bradford during challenging times, both domestically and globally.

“I remain very optimistic that our campuses will thrive because of what our past presidents were able to accomplish during challenging times,” he said. “It’s important that we review the past and use what we have learned from it to help shape and touch the future,” Esch said, explaining how both campuses will touch the future in every area, including academics, athletics, and student affairs.

“Our legacy will be our students, what they accomplish and how they change the world,” Esch said. “Our focus is on providing our students the transformative experiences that give them every opportunity to grow and flourish as individuals, so they can lead the way to a better future.”

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