From his Pitt mentor in the 1960s to the “Mister Rogers' Neighborhood” archives at Pitt, connections with Fred Rogers remain strong at the University of Pittsburgh.
The late Rogers, whose mission of helping children to “grow as confident, competent and caring human beings,” will be celebrated anew with the movie, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” starring Tom Hanks that opens nationwide in theaters this Friday.
To prepare for the movie—or just learn more about Pitt’s perhaps favorite neighbor—take a look at some of the Rogers-related content on campus this week:
The Office of University Communications has built a special website, Celebrating Mister Rogers, highlighting the many Pitt-Rogers ties over the years, including archival footage of his commencement speech at the University. “If you saw our neighborhood on television when you were very young, you may have heard me say ‘I'm proud of you.’ Well, you can be sure of that again today. I am proud of what has brought you to this special moment in your life, the choices you have made to allow your commencement to be,” he said to the Class of 1993.
Jeanne Marie Laskas, Distinguished Professor of English and Founding Director of the Center for Creativity, published a story in the New York Times Magazine on Nov. 19 detailing her long relationship with Rogers and his wife, Joanne. Read “The Mister Rogers No One Saw.”
Rogers’ approach to child development is influential for many current Pitt faculty and staff, even though the last new “Neighborhood” episode aired in 2001. For instance, Kenyon Bonner, vice provost and dean of students, said, “The thing that stood out the most to me was just his presence and his energy. You know, sometimes when you're a kid, you're really hyper, and you have a lotta energy, and watching his show allowed me to calm down and become more centered.” He said that attitude carries through to how he lives his life today.
Tomorrow in Pittwire, read about more Pitt people with a lasting connection to Mister Rogers. In addition, the publication will feature a piece on the Rogers archives, housed within Pitt’s Elizabeth Nesbitt Collection.
And, in case you missed it: The most recent edition of Pittwire Health featured the story of Rogers’ 30-plus year friendship and professional relationship with child psychologist Margaret B. McFarland, an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry. Read the piece: “The Mentorship that Shaped Mister Rogers.”
Finally, the Center for Creativity is holding events on Nov. 20 and 21 to make neighborhood-themed buttons, design thank-you cards and more. The button art options will be images from the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Collection from 1955-2003 in Pitt’s University Library System Archives & Special Collections. This includes show scripts, photos and promotional materials along with original puppets on long-term loan to the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. Curator Clare Withers said students from Cultural Studies and Children’s Literature among others use the materials in their current coursework.