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February 6, 2003

Faculty honored for teaching, research, public service

Winners of the 2003 chancellor’s awards for distinguished teaching, research and public service were announced by Chancellor Mark Nordenberg at Senate Council this week.

Teaching award recipients are: William C. de Groat, Department of Pharmacology, School of Medicine; Rodney H. Eatman, Department of Theatre, Johnstown campus; Joseph J. Grabowski, Department of Chemistry/Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS); John W. Kreit, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, School of Medicine, and Deborah Studen-Pavlovich, Department of Pediatric Dentistry, School of Dental Medicine.

The Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award winners are: Isabel L. Beck, Department of Instruction and Learning, School of Education; Kay M. Brummond, Department of Chemistry/FAS; Jeffrey Lawrence, Department of Biological Sciences/FAS; Jeffrey H. Schwartz, Department of Anthropology/FAS, and Craig S. Wilcox, Department of Chemistry/FAS.

Beck, Schwartz and Wilcox were honored as senior research scholars, and Brummond and Lawrence were honored in the junior scholar category.

Chancellor’s Distinguished Public Service Award winners are: Robert Bowser, Department of Pathology, School of Medicine; Ronald A. Brand, School of Law; Carrie R. Leana, Katz Graduate School of Business, and Edward W. Sites, School of Social Work.

The winners of the three faculty awards will be recognized, along with winners of the Chancellor’s Distinguished Service Award for Staff, at Pitt’s 27th annual honors convocation on Feb. 28. (See story on this issue.)

Each of the faculty awards carries a $2,000 cash prize plus a $3,000 grant for the recipient’s work, administered through the home school. Winners’ names will be inscribed on a bronze plaque in the William Pitt Union.

Chancellor Nordenberg sent letters to the winners, citing some of their accomplishments.


• The medical school’s William de Groat was recognized by the chancellor for contributions to teaching pharmacology in diverse settings within and outside the school over 35 years.

Nordenberg wrote that de Groat excelled at exploring the link between basic and clinical settings using a problem-solving approach and incorporating historical context, research and personal experience to stimulate students.

His ba-sic science course in medical pharmacology, the chancellor wrote, is “highly valued by first-year medical students, who appreciate your expertly organized lectures, interactive course format and the respect you show them.”

De Groat’s teaching success extends to second-year and graduate courses as well as to the mentoring of undergraduates and pre- and post-doctoral fellows in the laboratory, the chancellor wrote.

De Groat is a prior winner of the Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award.

• Johnstown theatre professor Rodney Eatman was acknowledged by Nordenberg for teaching and mentoring majors and non-majors in all aspects of theatre over a 24-year career at UPJ, using a demanding yet nurturing and encouraging approach.

The chancellor cited Eatman as a talented actor, director, keyboard artist and playwright, who pushes students “to stretch their imaginative and creative muscles” through careful and tactful feedback.

“Almost single-handedly,” the chancellor wrote, “you have been the heart and driving force of the theatre department over the years, and your campus has benefited greatly from your dedicated and skillful teaching.”

• Joseph Grabowski was praised for his innovative teaching of organic chemistry and pioneering contributions to education in the chemistry department, as well as for his influential articles in the Journal of Chemical Education and national presentations on teaching innovation.

“You enrich your meticulous PowerPoint lectures with a variety of creative materials, including web-based animations, practice problems, group projects, peer-led team learning groups, web-based self-assessments and your Jeopardy! game,” Nordenberg wrote. “Your high expectations motivate your students, and you create a learning environment that incorporates their diversity of learning styles.”

The chancellor also praised Grabowski for promoting experiential learning outside the classroom through directed summer research opportunities for undergraduates. Nordenberg wrote that departmental colleagues have benefited from Grabowski’s leadership in sharing applied technology in the classroom, his efforts at curriculum revision and his monthly teaching seminars.

• John Kreit was cited by Nordenberg for his dedication as a clinical educator who has been recognized by colleagues and by second-year medical students, who awarded Kreit the school’s outstanding teaching award for the past two years.

“Residents have selected you to receive their clinical teaching award numerous times, praising your patience, enthusiasm, unique bedside teaching skill and intellectual curiosity,” Nordenberg wrote.

He also cited Kreit for enriching the education of fourth-year students, residents and fellows in the clinical care setting through formal and informal lectures, close supervision and research training.

• Deborah Studen-Pavlovich of dental medicine was cited by Nordenberg as a role model, “a teacher whose attention to detail, organization and integration of clinical cases and self-study units make the classroom come alive, and whose nurturing of, and respect for, students enrich their preclinical and clinical experiences.”

The chancellor praised her for developing, implementing and administering the pediatric dentistry program, and for her teaching the didactic, preclinical and clinical components of the curriculum.

“You single-handedly have created a thorough and well-integrated program and you impart your dedication and passion for the profession in your numerous teaching, advising and mentoring activities,” Nordenberg wrote.

The chancellor pointed out that Studen-Pavlovich was selected by the American Dental Association as one of the 25 “dental visionaries” for the 21st century, whose work will help shape the future of American dentistry.


• Senior scholar Isabel Beck of the education school was cited for her research contributions to the study of reading instruction. “You effectively combine a theoretical approach based on the cognitive theory of reading with experience and awareness of classroom instruction,” Nordenberg wrote. He also pointed to Beck’s awards from the National Reading Conference and the International Reading Association, as well as her membership in the reading association’s Hall of Fame. “Your outstanding record of research and scholarship adds to the distinction of the University of Pittsburgh,” Nordenberg wrote.

• Of chemistry’s Kay Brummond Nordenberg wrote, “You have made seminal contributions in your field through the development of novel synthetic methods, focusing specifically on organometallic processes and their application to the synthesis of biologically relevant molecules.” Junior scholar Brummond also invented an new variant of the Pauson-Khand reaction to create a complex natural product, Nordenberg added. “This work is widely recognized as one of the most visible synthetic achievements in the last few years.”

• Junior scholar Jeffrey Lawrence of biological sciences enjoys an international reputation in the burgeoning field of microbial genome evolution, which has attracted research associates as well as students to a thriving laboratory environment at Pitt, Nordenberg pointed out. “Of particular note are your bioinformatics and computational approaches to understanding genome evolution, which you have used to calculate the frequencies and mechanisms by which horizontal gene exchange in bacterial evolution operates,” Nordenberg wrote.

• Anthropology’s Jeffrey Schwartz is one of the few active scientists to discover a new genus of living primate, the chancellor wrote of the senior scholar. “Your colleagues describe you as an imaginative and highly original thinker whose work is innovative and inspiring — appropriate descriptors for one of the world’s leading experts on human and non-human primate evolution,” Nordenberg wrote. He added that Schwartz’s book series, “The Human Fossil Record,” is the single most important reference on the subject. “It’s little wonder than even those who disagree with some of your ideas believe that these ideas cannot be ignored.”

• Senior scholar Craig Wilcox of chemistry was praised by the chancellor for his seminal work in physical organic chemistry, molecular recognition and combinatorial chemistry. “You introduced Trogler’s base, which, along with a few other select molecules, is recognized as one of the general motifs of molecular recognition,” Nordenberg pointed out. He added: “Your work on ‘precipitons’ promises to change the way certain kinds of molecules are synthesized and separated and has great potential for accelerating the process of drug discovery in the pharmaceutical industry.”

Public Service

• Robert Bowser of pathology was acknowledged by Nordenberg for his compassionate involvement in improving the lives of patients with the incurable fatal disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and establishing and expanding Pitt’s ALS Tissue Bank.

“Since joining the University’s faculty in 1994, you have been engaged in a research and public service program that promises to be of inestimable value to ALS sufferers regionally and nationally,” the chancellor wrote. Bowser also has been active in the National ALS Association’s advocacy and congressional lobbying efforts and is a frequent speaker at ALS patient support group meetings and conferences, he added.

• The law school’s Ronald Brand was recognized by Nordenberg for his longstanding involvement with the United States delegation to the Hague Conference on Private International Law and in the negotiation and drafting of an international convention on jurisdiction in civil and commercial matters, reinforcing the concept that the rule of law is fundamental to achieving world justice.

“Your written work in this area is recognized widely as opening new and fruitful avenues of inquiry in the field of international law,” the chancellor wrote, noting the work also has had a dramatic effect on Pitt law students.

“You have incorporated both the substance and process of the negotiations in your teaching, using a sophisticated approach that has students representing various views in order to develop a thorough understanding of comparative concepts of jurisdiction throughout the world,” Nordenberg wrote.

• Carrie Leana of the business school was acknowledged by the chancellor for community service applications to knowledge and research in the field of organizational behavior and for developing MBA “project courses” that require interaction between people who make business decisions and those who are affected by those decisions. “A unique feature of your teaching is that you have sought ways to provide students opportunities to interact with the community and to use their skills to improve the quality of life in the community,” Nordenberg wrote.

“More recently,” Nordenberg continued, “you have concentrated much of your public service activity on developing a local community foundation, The Three Rivers Community Foundation,” which provides small grants to community groups that focus on issues such as race, economic status and disability.

• Social work’s Edward Sites has been a principal investigator on at least one state, federal, foundation or agency funded grant in the field of child welfare education every year since 1971, the chancellor pointed out. “Your current multi-year grants have enabled you to oversee permanent instructional sites at 15 locations in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Nordenberg wrote, resulting in the enrollment of hundreds of students in a consortium of institutions of higher learning.

In addition to serving as a board member, chair or consultant to numerous child welfare advocacy groups and providing pro bono consulting services for not-for-profit organizations, “You have been in the forefront of our University’s transfer of knowledge from the University to the community, for the benefit of future generations of children and families at risk,” Nordenberg wrote.

—Peter Hart

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