Jamie Ducar Earns Second Micro-Credential in Community Engagement
Jamie Ducar, director of community engagement in the Office of Community and Governmental Relations, has earned a micro-credential in Community Engagement Fundamentals through Campus Contact’s Community Engagement Professional Credentialing Program.
Ducar earned this micro-credential by demonstrating her “competency to effectively and elaborately [summarize] the foundations of the field and breadth of community-engaged work it encompasses.”
This the second micro-credential Ducar has earned from Campus Compact, a national coalition of over 1,000 colleges and universities “committed to the public purses of higher education.” She is one of only two individuals who have earned micro-credentials in Community Engagement and Community Partnerships.
Lina Dostilio, Pitt’s assistant vice chancellor for community engagement, helped develop the set of key competencies that are required to obtain this micro-credential and is a member of Campus Contact’s Content Advisory Board.
Aurora Sharrard to Serve on Sustainability Advisory Council
Pitt Sustainability director Aurora Sharrard has been named to a two-year term on the advisory council of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
Established in 2005, AASHE is comprised of over 900 members in 20 countries worldwide. The organization’s mission is to inspire and catalyze higher education to lead the global sustainability transformation.
Anthropology Chair Teams Up with Pitt Alum on New Netflix Original Series
The new Netflix documentary series “Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak” is earning buzz. Fast Company called it “required viewing,” saying it “couldn’t have come at a more crucial time with the recent coronavirus outbreak.”
Ryan McGarry (MD ’09), an emergency medicine doctor, Pitt School of Medicine alumnus and cinematographer, is behind the series as an executive producer. This summer, he invited Pitt Anthropology Chair Bryan Hanks to play a role in setting the stage for the series: The first episode opens at an unmarked grave site near Pittsburgh where an unknown number of bodies are buried—victims of the 1918 pandemic flu. Hanks and a team of Pitt students use ground-penetrating radar to estimate about how many people were buried there.
McGarry, now a faculty member at Cornell University, said he wanted an excuse to get back to Pittsburgh and feature Pitt experts in this docuseries. Check out the new show on Netflix and learn more about his first big experiment, Code Black, in Pitt Med magazine.
New Paper Offers Insight to Why Couples Post Pictures Online
An article published online earlier this month in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin is one of the first studies to examine the reasons people post pictures of themselves with significant others on online profiles. It’s a well-known and widely-practiced behavior—but the motivations behind the behavior, and its consequences, have received limited research attention until now.
“There are lay theories that people don’t really think about what they post online, that they just post whatever pops into their head at any given time and that they’re not really thoughtful about the long-term effects of those things,” said Kori Krueger (pictured), a graduate student in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts Sciences’ Department of Psychology and the paper’s first author. “Our findings suggest that there may be a more strategic reason that some people post couple photos, display their relationship status and mention their romantic partner in social media posts” said Amanda Forest, a faculty member in psychology, Krueger’s advisor and co-author on the paper. Forest’s work looks at interpersonal communication and close relationships.
“It really seems to be a way to protect your relationship from outside interference,” Krueger said.
Pittsburgh Named One of the Best Places to Find a Job
Pittsburgh is one of the best places to find a job the U.S., according to WalletHub’s “2020’s Best Cities for Jobs” rankings.
Pittsburgh ranked 13th overall, seventh in socioeconomics and 36th for market quality. To determine the ranking, the personal finance website compared “more than 180 U.S. cities across 31 key indicators of job-market strength,” such as “job opportunities to employment growth to monthly average starting salary.”
Scottsdale, Arizona, landed at number one on the list, with Detroit, Michigan, rounding out the list at number 182.
Pitt Cyber Launches Task Force to Prevent Bias in County’s Decision-making Tools
The University of Pittsburgh Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security announced the creation of the Pittsburgh Task Force on Public Algorithms on Jan. 22, 2020. The task force, convened with support from The Heinz Endowments, is a coalition of researchers, educators, community service providers and public and private sector stakeholders that seeks to establish best practices and practical guidelines for the use of municipal decision-making algorithms. The task force is supported by an advisory panel featuring representatives from Allegheny County and the City of Pittsburgh.
The group will use a combination of community outreach meetings and public comments posted on its website to assess county residents’ major concerns with municipal decision-making algorithms. In summer 2021, it will publish a full report of its research and recommendations for best practices for the technology.
“Increasingly, algorithms are being used to facilitate efficient government. We need to ensure that historical discrimination and existing inequities are not reinforced,” said Pitt Cyber Founding Director and Task Force Chair David Hickton (pictured). “Pittsburgh should lead the way in effective and fair oversight of these systems. We can be a national model, ensuring algorithmic accountability and equity for all residents.”
Pitt Law Signs Accelerated Admissions Agreement with Bloomsburg University
Pitt’s School of Law is once again offering qualified students from Bloomsburg University (BU) an Accelerated Law Admissions Program (ALAP) that will save them a full year of tuition and costs.
Pitt and BU signed an agreement Jan. 22 that will allow BU students who have earned at least 90 credits and have completed all major and general education requirements by the end of their junior year, to apply for law school admission, as if it was their final year of undergraduate study. Pitt Law will assess those students as if they were ordinary applicants, but it will waive the usual requirement to have completed a bachelor’s degree before admission. The student’s first year of law school will double as their senior year of college.
This allows those students to achieve a bachelor’s degree and a law degree in six years instead of seven.
Said Pitt Law Dean Amy Wildermuth: “We have had several excellent Bloomsburg graduates as students at Pitt Law and this program will strengthen the terrific pipeline between our two schools. Most importantly, both Bloomsburg and Pitt are eager to find ways to help students reduce their overall debt. By decreasing the number of years a student spends in school, this program will have a significant and meaningful impact.”
Pitt Law already offers its ALAP to students at the University’s Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences and its College of Business Administration. The program is also available for students from Washington and Jefferson College and Carlow University.
Teaching Center Honors Four with Advancing Educational Excellence Award
The University Center for Teaching and Learning recognized Charline Rowland, teaching consultant; Mark Vehec, web developer; Robin Albright, senior instructional designer; and Tahirah Walker, manager, Teaching Support for earning its 2019 Advancing Educational Excellence award.
The annual honor is a peer-driven award that recognizes Teaching Center staff members who exemplify the values of the center, demonstrate a positive attitude and commitment to responsibilities and make above-and-beyond contributions to the University.
Max Schuster Selected for Emerging Faculty Leader Academy
Max Schuster, assistant professor of practice in the School of Education, was selected for the 2019-2020 NAPSA Emerging Faculty Leader Academy, an honor given to only seven faculty members across the country each year.
The highly selective academy is a one-year program designed for early career faculty in student affairs and higher education graduate programs. The National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, which supports student affairs administrators in higher education, has 15,000 members from 1,200 institutions around the world.
Office of Human Resources Welcomes Four New Hires
The Office of Human Resources (OHR) is pleased to begin the new year welcoming four new hires to the team:
- Danielle des Tombe, compensation analyst, provides customer service through compensation inquiries, Talent Center requests and regular compensation operations.
- Jodi Hernandez, senior compensation analyst, is responsible for job modifications and offers within the compensation department.
- Terri Jarzynka, payroll administrator, supports the OHR Shared Services team by providing customer support for payroll questions and issues.
- Taeler Wright, student employment coordinator, is responsible for supporting the student employment administrator in the day-to-day operations of student employment.
OHR welcomes its new colleagues and wishes them luck in the next chapter of their careers.
Events and Programs Honor Martin Luther King Jr. During Social Justice Week
A number of signature happenings at Pitt are scheduled for the coming week to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Check out the events calendar for details and see below for highlights.
Kicking it off is the MLK Day of Service on the national holiday, Jan. 20. The Office of PittServes has hit their registration limit with 900 students, faculty, staff and neighbors who are going out into greater Pittsburgh area communities to help make this “a day on, not a day off.”
Other Social Justice Week events include a symposium of talks on intersectionality and marginalization; an interfaith service; a luncheon honoring senior vice chancellor for engagement and secretary of the Board of Trustees Kathy Humphrey; and a career conference.
Find details at Student Affairs’ website.
At the regional campuses, the University of Pittsburgh at Titusville will join the Titusville YWCA, the United Way of the Titusville Region and St. James Episcopal Church to celebrate the life and impact of Martin Luther King Jr. Held at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 20, in the church’s parish hall, the event is free and open to the public, and will include a dinner of soup and salad.
Students at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg are invited to participate in the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Caring on Jan. 20.
Jamie Hanson Wins American Psychological Foundation Award
Jamie Hanson, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and research scientist at the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC), is the recipient of the 2019 American Psychological Foundation Robert L. Fantz Memorial Award.
The Fantz Award recognizes young researchers in psychology who have accomplished basic scientific research or scholarly writing in perceptual-cognitive development and the development of selective attention, and have investigated and written about the development of individuality, creativity and free-choice of behavior.
Hanson’s research focuses on how children and adolescents learn about their environments, how early life stressors impact their developing brains, and how brain changes can result in negative outcomes. His program consists of working with families, collecting data, connecting with communities and sharing information about brain and behavioral development.
Marc Coutanche Named Rising Star by Association for Psychological Science
Marc Coutanche, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences and research scientist at the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC), has been named an Association for Psychological Science Rising Star.
The Rising Star Award is granted to post-PhD psychological research scientists early in their careers for their innovative work influencing their field of study with encouragement for future contributions.
Coutanche heads the Learning in Neural Systems LeNs Lab at the LRDC. His research focuses on the cross between neuroscience and psychology, specifically learning, memory consolidation, sleep, perception and computer science. He uses cognitive experiments, brain imaging and sleep studies to examine human cognition and the brain.
Allison Shertzer Awarded Grant to Study Housing Market Past for Better Future
Allison Shertzer, associate professor in Pitt’s Department of Economics, recently received a three-year, $607,000 National Science Foundation grant to examine the evolution of real estate values and the standard of living in the U.S. over the period of 1880 to 1990.
Shertzer and her team will combine state-of-the-art methods in housing price index construction with newly digitized newspaper archives, with the goal of making important improvements over existing housing price series.
“We can't really understand what is happening in today's housing economy or make predictions for the future, unless we understand how the price of housing moved during booms and busts of the past,” she said.
Pittsburgh Among Cities with Greatest Longevity
Besides being the third most livable city in the U.S., Parade listed Pittsburgh as one where residents have a higher chance of reaching their 100th birthday.
Parade cited health care as Pittsburgh’s new economic driver, but also mentioned “culture and top-notch education at all ages.”
According to the University of California, Irvine, talking to neighbors ranked high among habits of those over age 90. Parade highlighted that “community engagement is rich in this city’s distinct and tight-knit neighborhoods,” with Squirrel Hill residents having an average life expectancy of 86 years old.
Education’s Tessa McCarthy Receives National Research Award
Tessa McCarthy, assistant professor in the School of Education, received the 2019 Alan J. Koenig Research in Literacy Award.
The award, which is one of the highest honors that can be given to educators of people with visual impairments, is granted to one person every two years.
McCarthy, who teaches courses in the Vision Studies program in the School of Education’s Department of Instruction and Learning, focuses the majority of her research on the mechanical and pedagogical aspects of teaching Braille reading.
The School of Education is one of a few dozen higher education institutions in the United States that offer degree and certification programs for educators in vision studies.
Pittsburgh Named One of the World’s Smartest Cities
Pittsburgh has been named one of the world’s smartest cities, as part of Newsweek’s 2019 Momentum Awards.
According to Newsweek, each city that made the list is “doing something bold and unique that is leading us into the land unknown.”
Newsweek noted that Pittsburgh has “undergone a dramatic environmental and technological transformation over recent years,” mentioning the city’s efforts in sustainability as well as several successful smart city projects.
Lina Dostilio Leads Study on Hyperlocal Community Engagement
Lina Dostilio, associate vice chancellor for community engagement, published a new study in conjunction with her work as the inaugural fellow with the Coalition of Urban and Metropolitan Universities (CUMU), with support by the Kresge Foundation.
For the study, Dostilio focused on hyperlocal engagement, or “instances in which post-secondary institutions have strategically organized community engagement efforts to focus on a bounded area within a larger city or metropolitan region in ways that enhance the institution’s ability to form partnerships and advance community development.”
The benchmarking report examined the hyperlocal practices of 22 CUMU institutions with a total of 26 engagements across 33 sites—including Pitt’s Community Engagement Center in Homewood.
The report also “catalogs the diversity of hyperlocal engagement strategies and investigates which areas of community capacity were of interest to hyperlocal engagements.” Read the full report.
“To me, the benefits of a hyperlocal engagement are the ability to have a sustained institutional platform for partnership, to be able to grow alongside community anchors, and to think together about how we dream and build the future," said Dostilio. "A university’s future is intertwined with the futures of its surrounding communities.”
Dostilio’s research team included the following Pitt community members:
- Mary Ohmer, associate professor in the School of Social Work
- Kara McFadden (GSPIA '19), alumna of the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
- Carrie Finkelstein, graduate student in the School of Social Work
School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Celebrates 50th Anniversary
The University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences turns 50 this year.
The school began as one of the smallest schools on Pitt’s campus in 1969 and has grown to be one of the most prominent today.
“We are fortunate that the leadership in SHRS sees the challenges as opportunities to demonstrate our collective innovation in educational delivery. This is especially evident as we boldly move into the arena of distance education,” said Anthony Delitto, who has served as the school’s dean since 2015.
Read more about the school over its half-century existence in the latest edition of FACETS, SHRS’s magazine.
Valerie Kinloch Served as Keynote for Equity Summit
The summit drew school district leadership from across Pennsylvania to “learn best practices, network with others and engage in discussions on how to develop a culturally responsive and inclusive school environment.”
The summit was held in Hershey, Pennsylvania, on Oct. 15.