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October 29, 2009

People of the Times

Social work faculty member John Wallace has been named the new holder of the Philip Hallen Chair in Community Health and Social Justice, one of the highest honors the University bestows upon a faculty member. The chair honors the life’s work of Hallen, who served as president of the Maurice Falk Medical Fund for 35 years. Pitt Magazine - John Wallace

Chancellor Mark Nordenberg said the appointment recognizes Wallace’s “significant work in investigating and helping to ameliorate social problems that disproportionately impact economically disadvantaged children, families and communities.”

Since joining Pitt’s faculty in 2004, Wallace has dedicated himself to improving the quality of life for inner-city youth. He is co-chair of the Homewood Children’s Village steering committee, a collaborative that engages Homewood residents, local and state governments, faith- and community-based groups, public schools and local and national funders in an effort to transform Homewood.

Wallace’s research includes serving as principal investigator on a project to reduce youth violence in Pittsburgh. He is co-investigator of Monitoring the Future, the University of Michigan’s ongoing national study of drug use among American youth.His other studies have looked at gender and racial disparities in school discipline, racial and ethnic disparities in substance abuse and smoking among adolescent girls.

Wallace is pastor of Bible Center Church of God in Christ in Homewood, the Pentecostal church his grandfather founded in the 1950s.

Clark Muenzer, faculty member in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, has been elected vice president of the Goethe Society of North America. After three years as vice president, he will serve as president for three years.Munzer

The Goethe Society is an international scholarly organization dedicated to furthering scholarship and teaching on Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and his age. Muenzer focuses his research and teaching on German literature and culture during the age of Goethe; Goethe: literary theory; German intellectual history; literature and architecture; Kafka, and modernism.

More recently, his teaching and research have examined the complex relationship of literature and the arts to philosophy. A number of recent articles look at Goethe’s literary, scientific, architectural and aesthetic works with reference to his study of Spinoza and Kant.

Karen VanderVen of the Department of Psychology in Education in the School of Education has received the Life Time Achievement Award from the Academy of Child and Youth Care Professionals. The award recognizes commitment, dedication and contributions to the field of child and youth care.

VanderVen’s interests include early childhood education with a special focus on play, professionalization of early childhood and child and youth work, leadership development, the developmental role of activity, practical strategies for activity programming and intergenerational and life-span practices.

Her professional activities include serving as senior visiting fellow at the SEARCH Institute and visiting scholar at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is a founder of the North American branch of the International Federation of Educative Communities and project director of the conference-research sequence in child care education.

Prior to joining Pitt’s education faculty, VanderVen worked with children and families in settings that included early childhood programs, psychiatric treatment facilities and community mental health.

The Pittsburgh New Works Festival recently announced the winners of the 19th an-nual “Donna” awards, named for Donna Rae, the festival’s founder.

The Donna Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Christopher Rawson, faculty member in the English department and theatre critic for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for 25 years. He also was the on-air drama critic at WQED-FM, 1980-93.

Rawson was honored for the support his reviews have given to the works of small local theatre companies.

Mervat Abdelhak, chair of the Health Information Management (HIM) Department  at the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, received the American Health Information Management Association’s (AHIMA) Distinguished Member Award. The award is AHIMA’s highest honor for an individual with a long and exceptional history of HIM contributions.Mervat

An educator, leader, mentor and AHIMA volunteer, Abdelhak’s career spans more than 30 years in the HIM field. She served as AHIMA president in 2005 and continues to serve in leadership roles in the association.

John Hulland of the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business has been named director of the school’s doctoral program.

Hulland joined the faculty of the Katz school in 2001. Prior to that he was a faculty member at the University of Western Ontario.hulland

His research is focused on understanding and managing the relationship between marketing resources and firm performance; improving the effectiveness of marketing and sales group interactions within firms; understanding how an individual’s elaboration of potential outcomes affects subsequent decision making, and applying causal modeling techniques in strategic contexts.

Robert S.B. Clark has been appointed chief of the Division of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, School of Medicine. He began his training in pediatric critical care at Children’s Hospital in 1992 and joined the Pitt faculty in 1995.

Clark’s research focuses on brain injury, in particular exploring mechanisms of cell death, the biologic basis for gender differences in outcome from brain injury and novel therapeutic targets. He has been funded continuously by the National Institutes of Health since 1996. He also has received multiple awards from the Society of Critical Care Medicine.

Clark became the associate director for the Safar Center for Resuscitation Research in 2001 and the program director for the pediatric critical care medicine fellowship training program in 2002.

A Pitt faculty member and a Pitt trustee have been honored this month by

Gov. Edward Rendell and First Lady Judge Marjorie Rendell as Distinguished

Daughters of Pennsylvania. Recipients are women whose “outstanding voluntary and professional contributions have reflected honor on the commonwealth.”

Honored was Toi Derricotte of the Department of English, who has published four books of poems, including “Tender,” Toiwinner of the Paterson Poetry Prize, and a memoir “The Black Notebooks,” which received The Anisfield-Wolf Award and was a New York Times notable book of the year. Derricotte has won awards from the Rockefeller Foundation, Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, Pushcart Press and the Poetry Society of America.

At Pitt, she was awarded a 2009 Chancellor’s Distinguished Public Service Award.

Derricotte is co-founder and director of Cave Canem, a forum for African-American poetry committed to the discovery and cultivation of new voices.

Also honored was Pitt trustee Eva Tansky Blum, who serves on the executive and institutional advancement committees of the board and co-chairs the University’s $2 billion capital campaign.

Blum, senior vice president, director of community affairs, and chair and president of  PNC Foundation, was named Distinguished Alumna in 2007 and Distinguished Law Alumna in 2008.

The Distinguished Daughters of Pennsylvania awards began in 1949 as a way to recognize influential women for their leadership, distinguished service and contributions to the state through professional and/or volunteer service. To date, 450 women have received the recognition.

Vonda Wright, faculty member in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, School of Medicine, and orthopaedic surgeon, UPMC’s Center for Sports Medicine, was elected to the International Council on Active Aging visioning board. ICAA supports professionals who develop wellness and fitness facilities and services for aging adults. The visioning board will drive ICAA 2020, an initiative set up to create a vision for the future of active aging.

Sean Patrick O’Neill has been named athletics director and director of Residence Life at the Titusville campus.

In addition to coordinating all of UPT’s intercollegiate and intramural athletics programs, O’Neill will be responsible for maintaining a supportive residence hall community, including residence hall programming, student discipline and academic counseling.

O’Neill previously was assistant director of residence life and student conduct at Mercyhurst College.

He earned a B.S. in writing from Slippery Rock University and a master’s degree in college counseling from Edinboro University.

An essay written by Nancy McCabe, associate professor of writing and director of the writing program at Pitt-Bradford, was among those chosen for the Best American Essays 2009 notable list.

The essay, “Running Away From Home,” first appeared in the Louisville Review in 2008.


The People of the Times column features recent news on faculty and staff, including awards and other honors, accomplishments and administrative appointments.

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