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University of Pittsburgh

October 28, 1999

Forbes Quad, WPIC renamed in honor of Posvar, Detre.

Forbes Quad, WPIC are renamed in honor of Posvar, Detre

Two former pillars of the University's senior administration were recognized by the Board of Trustees Oct. 21 with the renaming of Pittsburgh campus buildings in their honor.

Pitt's 15th chancellor Wesley W. Posvar and former senior vice chancellor for Health Sciences Thomas P. Detre, now have concrete evidence of their legacies.

Forbes Quadrangle, home to social sciences departments, has been renamed Wesley W. Posvar Hall. The building was completed in 1978 on the site of Forbes Field and also houses the University Center for International Studies, the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and the School of Education.

The University's home to inpatient psychiatric facilities and support functions, as well as research laboratories, is now the Thomas P. Detre Hall of the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (WPIC). The building on O'Hara Street was constructed in 1936.

Both Posvar and Detre loom large in the University's development over the last three decades.

During a 24-year tenure as Pitt's chancellor, Posvar oversaw establishment of the University Center for International Studies, the University Center for Social and Urban Research, the School of Health Related Professions (now Health and Rehabilitation Sciences) and the University Honors College.

In 1967, Posvar inherited a $30 million institutional debt, which was erased by 1976. Pitt's operating funds increased seven-fold and its endowment tripled during his term. The number of degrees Pitt awards annually rose from 3,500 to 6,400. A $240 million capital campaign was completed under his watch.

Pittsburgh campus buildings constructed during the Posvar era include Forbes Quadrangle, Hillman Library, the School of Law, the Biomedical Science Tower, the Cost Sports Center, and David Lawrence, Benedum and Mervis halls.

Since retiring as chancellor in 1991, Posvar has served as professor of international politics in the Department of Political Science. His academic achievements include graduating first in his West Point military academy class, earning five academic degrees, a Rhodes scholarship at Oxford, a Littauer fellowship at Harvard and a research fellowship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The former chancellor's expertise covers national security policy, foreign affairs, urban planning, civil aviation and national emergency preparedness.

Posvar told the trustees he was "honored, in fact, humbled by this recognition." He said he was particularly gratified since his wife Mildred Miller Posvar and daughter Lisa Rossi, who is a UPMC Health System employee, were in attendance at the announcement. Posvar also recalled his input in the decision to combine three planned buildings into the Forbes Quadrangle integrated complex when architectural consultants couldn't agree on plans. "There is some historical coincidence that I am associated with Forbes Quad," he told the board members.

Naming buildings after living persons is unusual, Chancellor Mark Nordenberg pointed out, although the board may make exceptions for individuals who have made "a substantial and sustained contribution to the University" and who have retired, he said. Nordenberg introduced resolutions to the board to rename the buildings.

On accepting the honor, Detre quipped, "Being a somewhat skeptical person, I am also skeptical about how much one might enjoy one's after-life." He added he was proud of the distinction and deeply grateful for the trustees' gesture.

Detre came to Pitt in 1973 as chair of the medical school's psychiatry department and director of WPIC. He oversaw the expansion of the psychiatric institute and clinic, which now houses eight federally funded Mental Health Clinical Research Centers emphasizing research on the causes of mental and addictive disorders and clinical trials of new psychiatric treatments.

Posvar appointed Detre senior vice chancellor for Health Sciences in 1984, with oversight of the Schools of Medicine, Public Health, Nursing, Dental Medicine, Pharmacy, and Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. During his tenure, Detre spearheaded the Partnership for Medical Renaissance, a $300 million construction and renovation project supporting the growth of the University's biomedical research and clinical programs.

He helped develop the Pittsburgh NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) Center for Biomedical Research, the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, the Center for Sports Medicine and the Center for Biomedical Ethics (now the Center for Bioethics and Health Law).

Also, under Detre's leadership, the Thomas Starzl Transplantation Institute, the Pittsburgh Genetics Institute, the Positron Emission Tomography Center, and dozens of multidisciplinary programs in the health sciences were founded.

Detre retired in 1998.

Also during the Board of Trustees meeting:

* Chancellor Nordenberg reported that in his four years at Pitt's helm freshman applications are up 60 percent; the number of freshmen eligible for Honors College admission is up 80 percent; research from sponsored projects continues to rise and will exceed $300 million this year; actual gifts received from donors are up 65 percent over four years ago, including a 1000 percent increase in trustees' support; this year's commonwealth appropriation is more than double the percentages received in recent years; there were "double bumps" in bond rating from two rating agencies, which gives independent verification of the University's financial health.

"This does not mean we are traveling down 'easy street,' or that we are anywhere near to where we intend to be. But we have come a long, long way, and we never could have traveled the distance we have come without the committed engagement of the board members," Nordenberg said. He said Pitt now has the means to move forward with construction projects, classroom renovations, increased scholarships and other initiatives to improve the University.

* The chancellor also recognized new senior staff members Alan A. Garfinkel, recently appointed general counsel, and Robert Hill, executive director for Public Affairs, who started here Oct. 1.

Garfinkel, a graduate of Pitt's College of Arts and Sciences and law school, assumed the general counsel duties Sept. 20.

Hill, most recently vice president for university advancement at California University of Pennsylvania, had served for 21 years at Syracuse University, including 10 as vice president for public relations.

* Two administrative officers were elected, Arthur G. Ramicone, as vice chancellor for Budget and Controller, and Amy Krueger Marsh, as treasurer.

Ramicone is responsible for the University units of Budgeting and Financial Reporting, Research and Cost Accounting, the Treasury, Student Financial Services, Planning and Analysis, Risk Management and Environmental Health and Safety. He reports to the chancellor.

Marsh formerly was first vice president and group head of the Midwest, Canada and Energy Services Group of Mellon Bank. She will report to Ramicone.

* Two emeriti trustees were named, A. Alice Kindling and Howard M. Love. Kindling, public health administrator for the Allegheny County Health Department, served as a Pitt trustee from May 1972 to June 1999. Love, retired chief executive officer of National Intergroup, Inc., was a board member from February 1981 to June 1999.

Emeritus trustees are former trustees elected to emeritus status by the board. They may participate at board meetings, but do not vote. They also may serve as voting members of board committees.

* The board okayed borrowing about $60 million to meet annual debt service payments.

* The trustees accepted the audited financial statements for the fiscal year ending last June 30, as was recommended by the board's audit committee.

* The board resolved to be governed by Title 15 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes by adopting an investment policy seeking total return on the University's restricted endowment funds. In accordance with a Pennsylvania law that went into effect December 1998, nonprofit corporations have the option to define income as a stipulated percentage of endowment assets without regard to actual interest, dividends or capital gains.

* The trustees heard reports from Alberta Sbragia, director of Pitt's European Union Center, and Terrence Milani, Office of the Director of Student Activities.

In July 1998, Pitt's Center for West European Studies was selected in a nationwide competition as one of 10 European Union centers in the United States. The European Union Center will participate in a network of EU centers administered by the European Community Studies Association, also headquartered at the University.

Milani reported on activities of the student volunteer outreach program, which recruits students to public service projects.

–Peter Hart

Filed under: Feature, Volume 32 Issue 5

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