Pitt Day of Giving 2020 Sets Records
Pitt Day of Giving on Feb. 25 prompted gifts from 7,630 Pitt supporters—alumni, students, faculty, staff, parents and friends from all 50 states and 31 countries, surpassing the goal of 7,000 donors.
“Every year it gets better and better,” said Kris Davitt, senior vice chancellor for Philanthropic and Alumni Engagement. “We have more Pitt Day of Giving social media mentions; people are keeping track of the challenges and leaderboards; and people are talking about the day. It’s all about momentum and the message to simply participate—just join in.”
The annual 24-hour fundraising blitz supports scholarships, research, academic programs, student activities and initiatives across the University. By the time the clock struck midnight, donations totaled more than $1.65 million, with givers designating their support to more than 200 funds including every Pitt school, college and campus.
A total of $200,000 in challenge dollars sparked friendly competition for support. See the leaderboards for a full list of winners.
More than 1,200 members of the University community joined Chancellor Patrick Gallagher, Provost Ann Cudd, Athletic Director Heather Lyke and Panther mascot Roc at an on-campus celebration in the William Pitt Union. The event was livestreamed to viewers across the world.
Social media support added to the excitement. #PittDayOfGiving was the number one trending hashtag in Pittsburgh all day.
Social Work's Jaime Booth Honored for Work with Teens
Assistant Professor of Social Work Jaime Booth was recently awarded the Deborah K. Padgett Early Career Achievement Award from the Society for Social Work and Research at the organization’s recent national conference in Washington, D.C. She was recognized for using innovative approaches in her research, much of which involves young people in historically disadvantaged neighborhoods.
“I’m engaging with new technology to answer traditional social work questions,” she said of her work.
Booth, along with Associate Professor of computing and information Rosta Farzan and other partners, is spearheading a pilot project called Data Forerunners. Close to 20 high school students from the Hill District and Homewood are using public data to explore issues in their communities, ranging from crime rates to commuting habits to affordable housing.
Now she is immersed in the SPIN Project, or Spaces and People in Neighborhoods for Positive Youth Development. Nearly 80 Homewood teenagers, carrying mobile devices equipped with a special app, responded to several surveys a day that asked how they felt about where they were. Did they feel respected? Are there people around that could help them if they need it? A survey at day’s end asked how they felt that day and if they had used any substances. The teens themselves are assisting with the data collection and Booth and the teens will present the findings this spring at local community centers.
“We want to understand how spending time in safe and risky spaces impacts these young people’s levels of stress and substance abuse,” said Booth. “The ultimate goal is to increase their access to safe spaces while addressing those spaces that are stressful.”
Booth, along with Assistant Professor of English Khirsten Scott also are developing H.Y.P.E. Media, a literacy program in which youth are taught the skills needed to engage new media to rewrite neighborhood narratives for community change.
Shawn Ellies Appointed Chair of American Society of Industrial Security Pittsburgh Chapter
The American Society of Industrial Security (ASIS) Pittsburgh chapter has named Commander of the Pitt Police and Director of Security Shawn Ellies (GSPIA ’08, EDUC ’15) as the chair of the local chapter, leading more 200 members. Additionally, Ellies is a ASIS Certified Protection Professional, having completed a comprehensive certification program recognized as the gold standard for security management professionals worldwide.
Ellies oversees the University’s integrated safety and security needs. He has been a member of the University of Pittsburgh Police Department for the past 23 years in public safety leadership roles including patrol officer, shift sergeant, shift lieutenant, administrative lieutenant, commander of the special emergency response team and commander of operations.
Ellies served in the United States Army for 23 years. He earned a doctorate degree from the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh in administration and policy studies, a masters degree in public policy and management from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, and a masters degree in leadership and management from Duquesne University.
Ellies chairs the Veterans Community group on Pitt’s campus.
Pitt Earns 2020-2021 Military Friendly Designation Across Campuses
The University of Pittsburgh has been recognized for its support for students in the military community.
For the ninth consecutive year, the University’s Pittsburgh campus has been recognized as a 2020-2021 Military Friendly Top 10 School.
Also receiving recognition for the 2020-2021 year:
- Pitt-Greensburg, Military Friendly
- The Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration, Bronze status
- Pitt-Bradford, Bronze status
- Pitt-Johnstown, Military Friendly
The Military Friendly Schools survey is “the longest-running most comprehensive review of college and university investments in serving military and veteran students.” Institutions earning the Military Friendly School designation were evaluated using both public data sources and responses from a proprietary survey. More than 1,000 schools participated in the 2020-2021 survey with 695 earning the designation.
Clapp Hall Renovation Awarded LEED Silver Certification
The University of Pittsburgh’s Clapp Hall renovation has been awarded a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver certification.
It’s the latest among a dozen Pittsburgh campus projects that have received a LEED designation from the U.S. Green Building Council.
The $34 million Clapp Hall project brought new infrastructure, interior renovations and exterior upgrades to the building that houses the Department of Biological Sciences.
Classrooms, laboratories, conference and seminar rooms, support spaces and offices were renovated; mechanical, electrical, plumbing and telecommunication systems were replaced; and a new fire suppression system was installed. The building’s elevator and restrooms were modernized to comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Outside, doors, windows and roofing were replaced and the exterior was cleaned and repainted.
Features contributing to the LEED certification were energy-efficient lighting, water-saving plumbing fixtures, a demand-control ventilation system and a lab exhaust energy recovery system. More than 95% of construction waste was diverted from landfills, 90% of existing building elements were reused and 36% of building materials were regionally manufactured. Clapp Hall also features bike storage and changing rooms for commuters and an indoor air quality system throughout the entire building.
Clapp Hall, part of the Life Sciences Complex, opened in 1956.
Raja Adal Receives NEH Grant
NEH grants support innovative digital projects for the public, humanities initiatives on college campuses and infrastructure projects at cultural institutions.
As a Fellow for Advanced Social Science Research on Japan, Adal will use this grant to support his project “The Typewriter and the History of Writing Technologies in Japan,” which includes research and writing for a future book.
Adal is one of only seven scholars Pennsylvania—and the only researcher at Pitt—to receive this award.
Dietrich School Launches New Writing Institute
The Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences recently launched a new writing institute to help create a “more vibrant writing culture” on Pitt’s campus.
The William S. Dietrich II Institute for Writing Excellence, which is rooted in the Department of English’s Composition Program, will help Dietrich School professors advance their writing instruction and help them teach discipline-specific writing in their courses. The new institute will also provide an environment for instructors to share tools that they’ve developed and learn from one another. The center plans to offer workshops for faculty and graduate students working on large projects.
“Writing is important because it allows us to move our ideas forward, to create knowledge, to figure things out,” said Jean Grace (pictured), senior lecturer in the Department of English and director of the Institute for Writing Excellence. “Writing is the life force of the academic community—it’s how we communicate research and advance our fields, how we document our work, how we earn credentials.”
The institute is named for William S. Dietrich II, the late philanthropist and double-degree Dietrich School alumnus who made a historic gift of $125 million to the University to name the then-School of Arts and Sciences to honor his father, Kenneth P. Dietrich. The Dietrich Foundation also gave a generous gift to help create the new writing institute.
Read more about the new writing institute on the Dietrich School’s website.
Swanson School’s Bopaya Bidanda Elected President of Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers
Bopaya Bidanda, the Ernest E. Roth Professor and chair of the Department of Industrial Engineering at Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, has been elected president of the Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers (IISE), the largest professional society dedicated to industrial engineering.
New officers are elected by the institute’s professional members and serve for three years, with terms beginning on April 1. Bidanda's is one of three seats filled in the annual election; he is joined by Ronald Askin (Arizona State University) as senior vice president of publications and Rohan Shirwaiker (North Carolina State University) as senior vice president of operations.
Bidanda has been an IISE Fellow since 2002 and won the IISE’s Albert G. Holzman Distinguished Educator Award in 2013.
Pitt Sets New School Record for Producing Fulbright U.S. Students
The University of Pittsburgh once again is among the nation’s top institutions for producing Fulbright students.
Fourteen recent Pitt graduates—13 undergraduate alumni and one graduate alumnus who is currently pursuing his PhD—are abroad in the Fulbright U.S. Student Program. This is a Pitt record; the University’s historical record of 11 recipients was set in 2015.
The prestigious Fulbright program awards grants for individually designed study and research projects or for English Teaching Assistant Programs in more than 160 countries around the world.
“This recognition, and the work that goes into realizing it, is an exceptional achievement for the University of Pittsburgh,” said Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “It highlights Pitt’s enduring capacity to not just attract—but to elevate and advance—the very best students in America today.”
“Global impact is a core of the Pitt Honors experience as it prepares our scholars to compete at the highest level and move toward a career of global impact,” said Audrey J. Murrell, acting dean of the Honors College. “Receiving a Fulbright award, as one of the most recognized international awards, is an important recognition of their achievement and shows that they take that global commitment seriously. I'm incredibly proud of their drive and boundary-crossing leadership.”
Pitt-Johnstown’s Pat Pecora Becomes Wrestling Wins Leader
With a 22-12 victory over Mercyhurst College, Pat Pecora, wrestling coach and athletic director at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, became the coach with the most all-time wins in NCAA history. Pecora has been with Pitt-Johnstown for 44 years and currently has an overall record of 617-151-5.
“Pitt-Johnstown congratulates our legendary wrestling coach, Pat Pecora, for a historic achievement—the all-time winningest NCAA coach! We are enormously proud of this monumental accomplishment, which stands as a testament to his great work ethic, inspirational leadership, spirited enthusiasm and love for his wrestling teams and UPJ,” said Pitt-Johnstown President Jem Spectar.
Pecora has led the Pitt-Johnstown Mountain Cats to 22 NCAA Regional titles and four straight PSAC Championships. He has been named National Coach of the Year by the National Wrestling Coaches Association multiple times, and has been inducted into the Pennsylvania Wrestling Coaches, NCAA Division II Wrestling, Pitt–Johnstown Athletics and National Wrestling Halls of Fame.
Pitt Faculty Named 2020 Sloan Research Fellows
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has named three Pitt faculty as 2020 Sloan Research Fellows:
- Susan Fullerton Shirley, an assistant professor in the Swanson School of Engineering was recognized for advancements in the field of chemistry.
- Michael Hatridge, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences was recognized for advancements in the field of physics.
- Robin E.C. Lee, an assistant professor in the Department of Computational and Systems Biology in the School of Medicine was recognized for work in the field of computational and evolutionary molecular biology.
The fellowship, awarded annually to 126 scientists in the United States and Canada, is dedicated for scholars studying chemistry, computer science, economics, mathematics, computational and evolutionary biology, neuroscience, ocean sciences and physics. Since the fellowship was founded in 1955, 38 Pitt faculty have received the honor.
Winners will receive a two-year, $75,000 fellowship to support their research.
Study Lab Wins Silver Award for Marketing and Communications at CASE
The Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) announced that Pitt’s Study Lab: Revolutionizing the Story of Academic Success won the 2020 Silver Accolades Award under Institutional Marketing Identity/Branding Programs.
Study Lab has undergone a rebranding in recent years, resulting in increased student engagement levels. Pittwire wrote about it in November 2019 and the online database company Knack spotlighted the “amazing results” on their blog. The marketing and communications team behind the efforts are being recognized for their work.
The award recognizes the visibility, support and prestige that marketing and programming bring to their institution. Criteria for the award included quality, creativity, innovation, adherence to professional standards and success in meeting stated objectives.
The team included Rebecca Farabaugh, communications manager in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences; Marygrace Reder, marketing manager in the Office of University Communications and Marketing (OUCM); and Jane Dudley, designer and assistant creative director in OUCM.
Toi Derricotte Wins Lifetime Achievement Award in Poetry
Toi Derricotte, professor emerita in the Department of English within the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences, is the 2020 recipient of the Frost Medal for distinguished lifetime achievement in poetry.
The award, named to honor the late poet Robert Frost, is presented annually by the Poetry Society of America to recognize the lifetime achievements of an American poet.
Anjali Sachdeva Named NEA Fellow in Literature
The NEA grants fellowships to writers and translators of poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction to allow recipients to “set aside time for writing, research, travel and general career advancement.”
Chosen from nearly 1,700 eligible applicants, Sachdeva is one of 36 creative writing fellows who received a grant of $25,000.
Awardees of Excellence in Advising Prize Announced
The Dietrich School's annual award recognizes outstanding faculty and staff academic advising of its undergraduate students.
Cohen is the director of undergraduate studies, senior lecturer, and undergraduate advisor in the Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies Program. Mowrey is an academic advisor in the Dietrich School's Academic Advising Center.
Recipients are nominated by fellow faculty and staff, and nominations are supported by the experiences of undergraduate students.
Medical Researcher Paul Palevsky Named President-Elect to Foundation Board
Palevsky is a professor of medicine and clinical and translational science in the renal-electrolyte division at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and is chief of the renal section at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System.
He is internationally recognized as an expert in acute kidney injury and critical care nephrology and has helped lead multiple clinical trials focused on the management of acute dialysis, prevention of acute kidney injury and slowing the progression of diabetic kidney disease. He has published more than 250 original articles, reviews and book chapters and has held multiple editorial positions.
Initiative Advances Public Art on Campus
Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Ann E. Cudd and Senior Vice Chancellor for Business and Operations Greg Scott have formally announced the Art on Campus initiative. Art on Campus aims to audit and catalog the public art at the University’s Pittsburgh campus, as well as make recommendations for future installations.
“Public art makes the campus a more vibrant place to visit, and special for visitors, faculty, staff and students,” said Cudd.
Art on Campus is the first major step in producing a complete inventory of artworks owned by the University. Its work will lay the foundation for harnessing Pitt’s art collections to meet the University’s strategic goals in the Plan for Pitt 2025.
The initiative is steered by a committee including members of the Office of the Provost, University Library System and Department of History of Art and Architecture. “This committee’s passion and strong expertise will help us move great ideas forward,” said Cudd.
Art on Campus aims to create a data collection methodology and apply that methodology to several sites on Pitt’s main campus, including Alumni and Mervis halls. In the first year, special attention will be placed on assessing and cataloguing artworks in outdoor spaces and producing a benchmarking study for the development of a public art plan at Pitt.
Bioethics Researchers Elected Fellows to Hastings Center
Lisa S. Parker and Robert M. Arnold were recently elected fellows to The Hastings Center, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization of research scholars studying ethical questions in medicine, science and technology that help inform policy, practice and public understanding. They are two of 12 newly elected fellows recognized for their outstanding accomplishments informing scholarship and public understanding of complex ethical issues in health, health care, science and technology.
Parker is the Dickie, McCamey & Chilcote Professor of Bioethics at Pitt, where she directs the Center for Bioethics and Health Law. She is also a professor of human genetics in Pitt's Graduate School of Public Health.
Arnold is a distinguished service professor of medicine in the division of general internal medicine and chief of the section of palliative care and medical ethics at Pitt. He also is a member of the Center for Bioethics and Health Law where he coordinates the clinical ethics education programs.
Pitt Marks Black History Month with a Series of Events
Pitt’s Black History Month celebrations kick off in earnest this week, with scheduled guest speakers, panel discussions and a step dance performance taking place throughout February.
A full list of programming can be found on Pitt’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion site.
Highlights include a discussion about the history of African Americans' right to vote and the rise of Black elected officials, taking place from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 11, at the Community Engagement Center in Homewood, and the release of "Race, Justice, and Activism in Literacy Instruction," a new book by Valerie Kinloch, the Renée and Richard Goldman Dean of the School of Education. Kinloch will discuss the topic at noon Feb. 25 in Room 4303 of Posvar Hall.
Details are forthcoming for Pitt’s signature K. Leroy Irvis Black History Month Program, which will be a four-day festival from Feb. 26-29 celebrating art, music and poetry as a form of activism and social justice. In 2008, the University named its annual Black History Month event to honor the memory of the legendary Pennsylvania legislative leader, Pitt alumnus (LAW '54) and emeritus trustee. Irvis (pictured here), who in 1977 became the first African American speaker of the House of Representatives in Pennsylvania and the first Black speaker of any statehouse since the Reconstruction Era, sponsored the 1966 bill that made Pitt a state-related institution of higher education.
Black History Month is celebrated every February to acknowledge the contributions of those of African descent to our nation’s life and culture.
Nicole Mitchell Named United States Artists Fellow
Pitt Jazz Studies Director Nicole Mitchell has been named a 2020 United States Artists (USA) Fellow—an honor accompanied by a $50,000 cash award to use as she wishes. She is one of 50 national artists across 10 disciplines to win the award this year.
“I was driving when I got the phone call and became so flustered I had to pull the car over,” Mitchell said with a laugh, recalling the day she received the news.
In making the announcement, USA President and CEO Deanna Haggag said of this year’s fellows: “Each and every one of them stands out as a visionary influence in their respective field.”
Mitchell took up the position of Jazz Studies director in January 2019.
She is a member of the We Have Voice Collective, a national group of musicians, performers and scholars who draw attention to inequity in the music industry. On Jan. 17, three other collective members joined her at Pitt’s Bellefield Auditorium for a panel discussion and concert, a premiere performance for collective members. She also is collaborating in Pitt’s K. Leroy Irvis Black History Month Program in late February and with Manchester Craftsman’s Guild for student workshops this spring. Mitchell is also looking into a community-focused Jazz and Creative Music Intensive for women and girls.
As far as the USA award, Mitchell is again thinking about helping emerging artists.
“I feel really humbled by this and want to use it to make impact,” she said. “My dream would be to use part of it to create a new grant program for artists who are just at the edge of doing great things.”