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Hickton in a dark blue blazer and light blue tie

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.”

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. 


Kori Krueger

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.

The Cathedral of Learning

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. 


The Cathedral of Learning

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.


statue thumbnail

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

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.

Schuster (EDUC ’17G) manages the Master of Education in Higher Education program in the School of Education. Read more about Schuster and the Leader Academy.

H2P written in sparklers

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.

Christina Solie

Christine Solie Joins Pitt as Communications Director for CFO Office

The Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor and Chief Financial Officer has appointed Christine Solie as communications director. In her role, Solie will develop a communications strategy for the SVC/CFO office, managing presentations to the Board of Trustees and enhancing communications within the office, as well as in responsibility centers supported by the SVC/CFO office.

Solie comes to Pitt from PNC Financial Services Group, where she oversaw financial communications. Her background includes internal and external communications responsibilities at Ford Motor Credit and Nationwide Insurance, and she holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from The Ohio State University. Additionally, Solie is a certified Six Sigma Green Belt.

Mark Burdsall

Human Resources Names Mark Burdsall Assistant Vice Chancellor of Consulting Services

The Office of Human Resources (OHR) is pleased to announce that Mark Burdsall will hold the new position of assistant vice chancellor of consulting services. According to Vice Chancellor Dave DeJong, a new consulting services unit will be composed of the compensation, employee and labor relations and organization development departments.

Burdsall has served OHR and Pitt for 22 years, leading countless organizational transformations in schools and departments across the University to better utilize existing resources and measure the true needs of each unit to achieve their goals. Burdsall has previously held the roles of director of compensation and most recently director of organizational development. 

Jamie Hanson

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

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.

View of Pittsburgh skyline from campus

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.


Allison Shertzer

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. 


Tessa McCarthy

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.

Read more about McCarthy and the Vision Studies program.

Channing Moreland

Channing Moreland Named Inaugural Director for SHRS Wellness Pavilion

Channing Moreland has been named the inaugural director of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS) Wellness Pavilion at the Community Engagement Center in Homewood.

Moreland most recently served as clinical assistant professor in SHRS’ clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling graduate program. She also served as program coordinator for the Cognitive Skills Enhancement Program at the Hiram G. Andrews Center in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

Set to open in 2020, the Wellness Pavilion will offer student-led and faculty-supervised sessions and services free of charge to the community, including interactive classroom instruction and activity; clinical services like therapies and counseling; and special events such as health fairs, demonstrations and health screenings.

“Channing’s extensive community-focused experience, project management skills and research interests in mentorship, minority leadership and multicultural counseling will be great assets to the Wellness Pavilion,” said Patty Kummick, executive director of SHRS internal and external relations. “I’m confident that, under Channing’s capable leadership, the Wellness Pavilion will flourish and will quickly become a place for residents of the greater Homewood community to seek health and wellness services and information.” 

Samantha Ford

Samantha Ford Joins Office of Sustainability as Project Coordinator

Samantha Ford joins the Office of Sustainability as sustainability projects coordinator. This new position expands the University-wide Pitt Sustainability team, providing greater support for the Pitt Sustainability Plan’s goals and strategy. Ford will help coordinate sustainability projects campus-wide, including leading the Pitt Green Office and Green Lab programs; supporting zero waste events and initiatives; and communicating Pitt’s leadership and innovation across the equity, environmental and economic spectrum of sustainability. 

Ford’s professional and educational experience includes environmental analytics, embodied energy of technologies, wildlife conservation and biophilic resiliency initiatives that benefit both people and the planet.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and psychology and is pursuing a master’s in sustainability at Chatham University. Before entering graduate school, Ford was a research associate in the Department of Family Medicine

Ford is excited to be part of the university-wide Pitt Sustainability team supporting the mission of balancing equity, environment and economics to ensure current and future generations can thrive. If you are interested in getting involved to further the culture of sustainability at Pitt or becoming a Pitt Green Office or Green Lab, please contact Ford at Samantha.E.Ford@pitt.edu.

Matthew Rendulic

Matthew Rendulic Appointed Assistant Director of Real Estate Development

The Office of Planning, Design and Real Estate in Business and Operations has appointed Matthew Rendulic to the new position of assistant director of real estate development. In his role, Rendulic will support campus-wide strategies for real estate, including new development initiatives and opportunities that will advance the University's mission.

Rendulic previously served as a project manager in the Office of Facilities Management where he directed capital construction projects at Pitt. 

Jodi Cardone

Jodi Cardone Joins Pitt as Director of Real Estate Administration

Jodi Cardone has joined the Office of Planning, Design and Real Estate in Business and Operations as director of real estate administration. In her role, Cardone oversees the University’s real estate and leasing portfolio, including contract management and assessment of new development opportunities.

She joins Pitt from the UPMC Corporate Real Estate team and brings demonstrated experience in commercial leasing, property management and market analysis.


Pittsburgh at dusk

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.