The University of Pittsburgh, commonly referred to as Pitt, is a state-related research university located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States. Founded as Pittsburgh Academy in 1787 on what was then the American frontier, Pitt is one of the oldest continuously chartered institutions of higher education in the United States. Pitt evolved into the Western University of Pennsylvania with an alteration to its charter in 1819, and upon relocating to its current campus in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh in 1908, the school received its current moniker, the University of Pittsburgh. For most of its history Pitt was a private institution, until it became part of the Commonwealth System of Higher Education in 1966.
University of Pittsburgh has been placed in the top cluster of 7 leading U.S. public research universities and among the clusters comprising the overall top 25 research universities, is ranked among U.S. News & World Report’s top public universities, has been named as a “best value” by various publications, and has appeared in multiple rankings of the world’s top universities. In addition, Pitt has also been recognized for its positive campus atmosphere, with The Princeton Review rating Pitt as having the 8th happiest student body and the 11th best quality of life in the nation in 2010.
University of Pittsburgh is among the nation’s and world’s most active research institutions as evidenced by its $642 million in annual research expenditures, its standing among the top five schools in the amount of National Institutes of Health research allocations, and its election as one of the 63 North American members of the Association of American Universities. Pitt and its medical school are also closely affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, a leading academic medical center and the most active neurosurgical and organ transplant center in the United States. These resources have propelled Pitt to a leadership role in, among other fields, stem cell science, bioterrorism defense, and tissue engineering.
University of Pittsburgh is popularly recognized for its centerpiece building, the Cathedral of Learning at 535 feet (163 m), the tallest educational building in the Western Hemisphere; for its central role in developing the first polio vaccine; and for fielding nationally competitive NCAA Division I athletic programs.