Board of Trustees Elects Members, Approves Construction Projects for Pittsburgh, Johnstown

The University of Pittsburgh Board of Trustees elected four new members and approved several construction projects, among other business during its June 30 meeting.

Eva Tansky Blum was re-elected board chair, a position she has held since 2015. The board also re-elected the following members: Douglas M. Browning, Deborah J. Gillotti, Ira J. Gumberg, Dawne S. Hickton, Thomas M. Kurtz, Larry J. Merlo, Roberta A. Luxbacher and Thomas E. Richards.

New Board of Trustees Members

Louis R. Cestello is executive vice president, head of regional markets and regional president of Pittsburgh for PNC Bank. He became regional president earlier this year and has served as head of the banking organization’s regional markets since 2013. He led the PNC Bank’s Southeast region following the acquisition of RBC Bank and was the regional president for the Greater Maryland region following the Mercantile Bankshares Corporation acquisition. Cestello joined PNC in 1990 as a management trainee and has worked in several areas including corporate banking, corporate finance and credit. A Pittsburgh native, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Washington & Jefferson College and a master’s degree from Duquesne University.



Tamara M. Haddad is president and chief executive officer of Haddad Media, a broadcast production and consulting firm she founded in 2007. The organization’s clientele includes Amazon, Bloomberg News, Google, HBO and Uber. Haddad has served as an adviser and producer on such notable series as “Veep” and the “Larry King Live” show. A former vice president and political director for MSNBC, her work in journalism was recognized with two George Foster Peabody Awards and five CableAce Awards, among other honors. Washingtonian magazine named her one of “Washington’s Most Powerful Women” in 2015. Haddad earned dual degrees in communication science and English literature at Pitt.



Jeannine T. Schoenecker is the first woman to serve as president and chief operating officer of the American Refining Group (ARG). She also held the positions of chief financial officer and vice president of accounting. In her current role, she is responsible for planning and directing ARG’s operational initiatives, objectives and policies. She also directs the refinery’s development toward future growth and ensures progress toward short and long-term goals. She has been honored with the 2016 George G. Blaisdell YMCA Community Service Award and the 2014 Bradford Area Chamber of Commerce Directors’ Award. Schoenecker earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting and economics from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. 



Shawndya L. Simpson was elected a Supreme Court Justice of the State of New York, Kings County, in 2016. She has twice been elected to 10-year terms as a Civil Court Judge of the City of New York. She served as an assistant district attorney for the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office before becoming an assistant attorney general for the state of New York. As a bureau chief of a felony trial unit, Simpson oversaw more than 40 assistant district attorneys. A recipient of Pitt’s Distinguished Alumnae Award, she earned both her bachelor’s degree and her juris doctorate degree from Pitt.




Construction Projects Approved

The board approved new construction and renovation projects, including work on Alumni Hall, the Cathedral of Learning and Hillman Library. When joined with other approved projects, they are expected to create more than 500 construction and support jobs in Pittsburgh.

Additionally, a $5 million expansion for the John P. Murtha Engineering and Science Building at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown will bring more than 25 jobs to that community.

The board also previously approved a five-year lease agreement at the Bridgeside Point One Building, 100 Technology Drive, Pittsburgh, which will generate nearly $44.3 million annually in property taxes for local government. 

Titusville Update Received

During a committee report to the board, the public was thanked for providing written feedback and participation in a town hall meeting related to the development of a report that lays out several options for the future of the University’s campus in Titusville.

The report explores five options as the University tries to set forth a financially sustainable future for the campus. At this point, the University plans to seek out ways to pursue the fourth and fifth options, which involve creating partnerships with other entities to share in operating the campus and supporting the educational needs of the community.

Leadership Position Finalized

Rob A. Rutenbar was elected senior vice chancellor for research and an officer of the University.

Rutenbar, most recently the Abel Bliss Professor of Engineering and head of the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, begins July 1, 2017, in the newly created position. 

As senior vice chancellor for research, he plans to establish and implement a long-term plan for the University’s research infrastructure and will oversee the Office of Research, the Research Conduct and Compliance Office, the Office of Export Control, the Center for Research Computing, the Innovation Institute and Economic Partnerships.

The trustees also established the Research and Innovation Committee of the Board of Trustees. The committee will provide oversight for Pitt’s research and innovation activities in support of the University’s mission and strategic priorities.