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November 8, 2012

Pitt staffer named Mustached American of the Year

Adam Causgrove

Adam Causgrove

Pitt staff member Adam Causgrove, a grants administrator in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics (MMG) has been named the American Mustache Institute (AMI) 2012 Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year.

Causgrove, who accepted the title Oct. 27 at the AMI ’Stache Bash 2012 in Arizona, succeeds 2011 titlist Milwaukee Brewers pitcher John Axford.

According to contest organizers, Causgrove won two-thirds of the 1.3 million votes cast in a decisive win over a cohort of finalists that included TV sitcom star Nick Offerman, St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher and Indiana gubernatorial candidate John Gregg.

“I didn’t think I’d have a chance to beat the celebrities,” Causgrove said, chalking up the victory to support from a wide range of sources.

The Goulet award isn’t Causgrove’s only mustache title. He is the proud holder of a Wannstache trophy, won at a local ’stache bash tailgate party.

And, although Causgrove sports a neatly groomed and waxed handlebar mustache, the AMI crown isn’t awarded for superior facial hair.

Rather, according to AMI, the annual award “recognizes the person who best represents or contributes to the Mustached American community over the past year.”

Causgrove, 28, is a native of Erie who came to Pittsburgh a decade ago to pursue a marketing degree at Pitt. He said he fell in love with the city and has been here ever since.

“I feel very fortunate that I found a university I loved so much that I wanted to work there,” said Causgrove, who had been a staffer at UPCI before joining the MMG staff in 2010.

His foray into the mustached American lifestyle began when he grew a mustache and beard to protect himself from the winter cold while training for the 2011 Pittsburgh Marathon.

After a few months, he noticed how full his mustache had become. He shaved the beard and learned how to trim and wax his mustache into a handlebar style. “I thought it was a really cool look,” he said.

Causgrove’s winning competition portrait

Causgrove’s winning competition portrait

A friend nominated him for the national award. His girlfriend, Chelsea Banks (a staffer at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine), photographed him posed with Oliver Hazard Perry, one of his two Jack Russell terriers. Causgrove’s entry submission detailed his charitable efforts, which include establishing a dog park in Mt. Washington and founding Tail-Great (, an annual tailgate party that benefits several nonprofit organizations.

His most recent endeavor is Side Project (, a start-up that assists small nonprofit organizations in finding funding to build capacity.

Causgrove’s Goulet award submission made the cut from among more than 900 entries to become one of 15 finalists.

He credits friends, family and “just Pittsburgh being awesome” for his victory. “Pittsburgh loves to win a title,” he said.

Media here and in his hometown picked up the story. He was featured on TV news as well as on several radio morning shows, which supported his campaign via their web pages, Facebook and Twitter. “Those reached a huge audience,” he said.

He also had support from relatives in Pennsylvania, Illinois and Washington; alumni connections from Pitt and Erie Cathedral Prep and contacts made through his charitable work. Coworkers and their families also helped garner votes.

He returned from Arizona to congratulations from faculty members, lab staff and others beyond his department. Co-workers in Bridgeside Point II made a mustache-shaped cake and covered his workstation with photos to celebrate his victory.

His AMI title came with a crown, a plaque and a high-end shaver from contest sponsor Wahl Trimmers, plus numerous other perks and swag:

— The London-based maker of his favorite mustache wax — lavender-scented Captain Fawcett’s Mustache Wax — is shipping him a seven-jar supply and proudly touting itself as his sponsor.

— He’s been asked to throw out the first pitch at a Lexington Legends minor league baseball game. The team’s logo is a mustache. “I’ll cross that off the bucket list,” said Causgrove, a longtime baseball fan.

— And Milwaukee Brewers closer Axford, Causgrove’s Mustached American predecessor, has promised to host him and guests at the ballpark when the team comes to Pittsburgh.

His Phi Kappa Theta fraternity brothers from have reached out for his support as they participate in November’s month-long Movember mustache-growing charity event. The Movember movement aims to raise awareness and funds for men’s health issues including prostate and testicular cancer.

He also has been asked to speak at a local school about community service.

Causgrove said his mustache has helped him meet countless new people.

“It’s a great icebreaker,” he said.

“Everyone wants to give me a high-five or shake my hand,” he said.

Strangers ask him to pose with them for pictures.

“I’m having fun with it.”

—Kimberly K. Barlow

Filed under: Feature,Volume 45 Issue 6

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