News from around Pitt: Bradford, Johnstown, Greensburg and more

There’s so much activity on Pitt’s campuses that sometimes news gets overlooked by the wider University community. We’ll spotlight some changes and achievements here each issue of the University Times. If you have news you want to share, email editor Susan Jones at


After an extensive feasibility study, officials at Pitt–Bradford have decided not to purchase St. Bernard School to house STEM-related academic programs.

Last spring, Pitt–Bradford officials entered into discussions with St. Bernard Parish representatives about the possibility of purchasing and then renovating the school, which would give the university much-needed space to house potential new academic programs as well as enhance existing programs.

The feasibility study by Pittsburgh architectural firm MacLachlan, Cornelius & Filoni, in looking at whether to purchase and renovate St. Bernard School or build a new building on campus, found the total estimated cost to renovate St. Bernard School would exceed $34.1 million, while the estimated cost to construct a new building would be $22.2 million.


Derek Leben, Pitt-Johnstown associate professor of philosophy, recently appeared as a guest on the podcast "Sean Carroll's Mindscape," to discuss the increased role of robots in society.

The podcast, hosted by physicist and popular author Sean Carroll, allowed Leben to discuss the prospects and challenges for designing morally acceptable autonomous machines, especially driverless vehicles.

The episode, titled “Derek Leben on Ethics for Robots and Artificial Intelligences” (at is available on iTunes, YouTube, or through the podcast website.


William H. Campbell, a part-time instructor of history at Pitt–Greensburg, has been awarded the Ecclesiastical History Society's Book Prize for “The Landscape of Pastoral Care in Thirteenth-Century England,” published in 2017 by Cambridge University Press.

Based in the United Kingdom, the Ecclesiastical History Society promotes the study of church history in all periods and regions. Its Book Prize is awarded annually for an author’s first book on church history. Campbell also was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society.


Degan Hao, Qiao Jin and Xinghua Lu from the Department of Biomedical Informatics, University of Pittsburgh tied for first place in the Biobank Disease Challenge, with a prize of $12,500. Among more than 50 teams participating from various institutions nationwide, the Pitt team excelled by predicting disease risk of patients with electronic health records using machine learning and reinforcement learning.