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May 1, 2003

Thornburghs fund disability law lecture series

Dick and Ginny Thornburgh, who recently received the Henry B. Betts Award from the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD), have donated the $50,000 Betts Award funds to Pitt to establish the Thornburgh Family Lecture Series in Disability Law and Policy.

The lecture series will be administered through Pitt’s School of Law and School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS), in conjunction with the Dick Thornburgh Archival Collection in Pitt’s University Library System. Pitt’s law school and SHRS created a disabilities law concentration for the master of studies in law (MSL) degree, the first such degree program in the nation.

A former governor of Pennsylvania and attorney general of the United States, Dick Thornburgh is a 1957 graduate of the University’s law school.

While attorney general, Thornburgh played a major role in the 1990 enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act. A recipient of the George Bush Medal in 2001 for his service to people with disabilities, Thornburgh is a founding member of the National Organization on Disability (NOD) and serves as vice-chair of the World Committee on Disability.

Ginny Thornburgh is director of the Religion and Disability Program of NOD, and for more than 13 years she has focused on making congregations and seminaries more welcoming to people with disabilities.

As described by the Thornburghs, the lectureship will address high-profile aspects of disability law and policy and seek to attract speakers of national prominence.

“This is just one more example of Dick and Ginny Thornburgh’s far-reaching generosity to the University of Pittsburgh,” said Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg. “Two key examples are Dick’s service as a trustee and their donation of the Dick Thornburgh Archival Collection to our Library System.

“Now, with the creation of the Thornburgh Family Lecture Series in Disability Law and Policy, they have given the University an important opportunity to build upon its academic strengths within the School of Law and the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences — strengths which have, at their core, a mission of advocacy for those with disabilities.”

AAPD is a national membership organization dedicated to promoting the economic and political empowerment of all people living with disabilities in the United States.

The organization administers the Henry B. Betts Award, created in 1989 by the Prince Charitable Trusts and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. It is named in honor of Henry B. Betts, a pioneer in the field of rehabilitation medicine.

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