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May 31, 2001

News & Information director takes La Roche job

Ken Service, Pitt director of news and information, has been named to the newly created job of vice president for institutional relations at La Roche College, effective July 1.

He will direct La Roche's communications, marketing, public affairs, development, and government and community relations programs.

Service, who has served on the college's board of trustees for the last four years, also will coordinate outreach efforts for La Roche's Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth) program. The program brings students from war-torn nations to La Roche to study, in the hope that they eventually will return home and help bring stability to their countries.

"My first year here at Pitt [1994] was the last year of J. Dennis O'Connor's chancellorship," Service recalled, "and the University was having some hard times at that point with the media." Service said he considers himself fortunate in having been able to contribute to institutional progress under O'Connor's successor, Mark Nordenberg.

Service also said he's proud of having helped to launch two University publications, the Pitt Research Review and the Pitt Campaign Chronicle.

When Pitt has positive news to announce, faculty, administrators and trustees usually field reporters' questions. But on controversial issues such as health benefits for Pitt employees' same-sex partners, Service more often has been the spokesperson.

"As much as I admire our Pitt campus police, I won't miss talking to them at 2 a.m. on a Saturday about problems on campus that might attract news media attention," Service said, with a laugh.

Any issues that he wishes he and the University had handled differently?

"Well, Bigelow Boulevard pops into mind," he replied.

Pitt's unsuccessful efforts during the late 1990s to close that street between Forbes and Fifth avenues "represented one of the more difficult issues we've had to deal with," Service noted. "But I like to think that the lessons that a number of us at the University learned during that experience led to improved relations with the Oakland community. It helped us to gain community support for construction projects like Bouquet Gardens, the MPAC building and the new convocation center."

Asked if he's expecting a quieter environment at La Roche, Service said: "I think it's going to be different. I will be involved with a wider variety of activities than I've been here. I expect I'll be just as busy."

Service came to Pitt from Duquesne Light Co., where he was director of corporate information. He also held public relations positions at Carnegie Mellon, Duquesne, the University of Cincinnati and the State University of New York at Buffalo.

— Bruce Steele

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