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The Cathedral of Learning

Awardees of Excellence in Advising Prize Announced

The Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences has named Frayda Cohen and Barbara "Babs" Mowery this year's Ampco-Pittsburgh Prize for Excellence in Advising recipients. 

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.

WPTS Radio logo

WPTS Radio Hosts 24-hour Winter Marathon

WPTS Radio, a student-run radio station at the University of Pittsburgh, is hosting a signature programming event of specialty content beginning Friday, Feb. 7.

The Totally '20s Winter Marathon is from noon Friday, Feb. 7 to noon Saturday, Feb. 8. For 24 hours, Pitt students will be on the air broadcasting live music, sports competitions, game shows and more. Tune in on 92.1 FM or iheartradio or wptsradio.org

“This year, we are especially excited to continue the marathon tradition because of an award we won called the Spirit of College Radio Award for an event we did in October,” said station manager Jonah Pfeifer.

WPTS was one of six recipients of the 2020 Spirit of College Radio award. More than 500 stations in 33 countries participated in World College Radio Day on Oct. 4, 2019. WPTS held a 921-minute mini-marathon with news and sports programming, trivia and quiz shows. The College Radio Foundation recognized their efforts as the embodiment of the passion and mission of college radio.

Ann E. Cudd and Greg Scott speaking outdoors

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 ProvostUniversity 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.

Lisa S. Parker and Robert M. Arnold

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.

K. Leroy Irvis

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), 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 plays the flute in a red jacket

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.”

Ryan McGarry

Ryan McGarry (MED ’09) Produces 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.

Aurora Sharrard

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.

Jamie Ducar

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 Compact'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 Compact’s Content Advisory Board.

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

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.

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.”

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 NASPA 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.

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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, of 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.

Richard Hylton

Richard Hylton Writes Essay Considering African American Art in the Global Arena

Richard Hylton, a postdoctoral fellow, has contributed an essay to The Routledge Companion to African American Art History. In the essay, titled “Status and Presence: African American Art in the International Arena,” Hylton points out that, according to historical accounts, works by African American artists were largely ignored under the wider umbrella of “American art.”

Hylton, who will be based in the Department of History of Art & Architecture (HAA) until summer 2021, says the racially-skewed conceptions of American art continued throughout the postwar period. It was not until the height of the Civil Rights Movement did the exhibition “Ten Negro Artists from the United States” take place in Dakar, Senegal in 1966—the first to present Black art as a distinct grouping. Later, more thematic exhibitions embracing the Harlem Renaissance, Black Arts Movement and Black Power were able to showcase the work of African American artists.

Said Hylton: “It is not too difficult to recount the names of any number of white American artists who have enjoyed long established reputations in the international arena. However, their Black American peers, artists such as Charles White, Elizabeth Catlett and Romare Bearden, still remain largely unfamiliar to international art audiences. My essay considers the legacies, institutional practices and attitudes which have shaped and continue to shape conceptions of ‘American’ and ‘African American’ art across the international arena.”

The Routledge Companion book is a teaching aid to anyone studying modern art history, with chapters on subjects ranging from Black folk art and Black public art to the legacy of presenting Black womanhood.

Hylton is a Dietrich School Diversity Postdoctoral Fellow, and the HAA is one of five Pitt departments hosting a diversity postdoc, beginning with the fall 2019 semester. Hylton is teaching a grad course this semester on the very topic of his essay and will also curate an exhibition in the University Art Gallery in 2021. He is a native of London, England and earned his PhD at Goldsmiths, University of London.

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.

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. 

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.