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July 21, 2005


William C. Welch, professor of neurological surgery, orthopaedic surgery and rehabilitation science and technology, and director of the Department of Neurological Surgery’s Spine Services Division in the School of Medicine, has been named the inaugural holder of the Peter E. Sheptak Chair in Neurological Surgery, named for Pitt alumnus and clinical professor of neurological surgery Peter E. Sheptak , who is the department’s vice chair for clinical affairs.

Welch, who joined the Pitt faculty in 1993, is renowned as a specialist in advanced spine surgical techniques — including new methods for spine fusion and artificial disc replacement — and has established at Pitt one of the largest spine programs in the nation.

The endowed chair will provide support to Welch as he continues to teach and conduct research in neurological surgery.

The Sheptak endowed chair, created through gifts from Sheptak’s colleagues, patients, friends and former trainees in the neurological surgery department, was established to honor his contributions to that department.

“William Welch’s elevation to the Sheptak chair constitutes one of the highest honors this University can bestow upon a member of its faculty,” said Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg. “Dr. Welch has been a highly regarded leader, here at Pitt and within his discipline, for more than a decade and has established one of the largest and most respected spine programs in the United States. He truly deserves this special form of recognition.”

Welch, who also is chief of neurosurgery at UPMC Presbyterian, has published 65 papers in refereed journals and 30 book chapters and is co-editor of the books “Operative Spine Surgery” and “Non-Fusion Techniques for the Spine: Motion Preservation and Balance.”

He is a member of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute; the Center for Clinical Neurophysiology, and the medical staffs of UPMC Shadyside and UPMC Horizon, as well as the Oakland Veterans’ Administration Medical Center, Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and Westmoreland Regional Hospital.

Sheptak specializes in spinal surgery, acoustic tumor surgery and sports medicine. He also is the former chief of neurosurgery at the Oakland Veteran’s Administration Hospital and the St. Francis Medical Health System, and has served as the principal neurosurgeon for the Pittsburgh Penguins since 1976.

Sheptak is known for performing innovative investigative and clinical work related to spinal degenerative disorders, pain management, cerebrovascular disease and brain tumors.

The Peter E. Sheptak Chair is the fifth chair to be endowed in Pitt’s Department of Neurological Surgery.


Alberta Sbragia, director of Pitt’s European Union Center (EUC), was named Jean Monnet Chair ad personam, one of only two academicians to be so honored this year.

Sbragia, a Pitt professor of political science and director of the Center for West European Studies (CWES), of which EUC is a part, joins a group of elite American academicians whose careers exemplify excellence in teaching and research related to the European Union.

According to the European Commission, “The title Jean Monnet Chair ad personam is reserved for professors showing evidence of a high level European commitment that is recognized by the academic world, at both national and international levels.”

Pitt’s EUC — one of the original 10 European Union (EU) centers in the United States established seven years ago by a grant from the European Commission — has been notified that its European Commission funding has been extended through the 2007-2008 academic year and that, effective Sept. 1, it will be known as a European Union Center of Excellence (EUCE).

The EUCE designation includes a grant of nearly 100,000 euros annually that will support expanded activities of the EUC, including annual policy conferences, undergraduate- and high school-level Model European Union simulations, curriculum development, distinguished academic and practitioner visits and collaborations with other EUCE, in the United States.

Sbragia’s Jean Monnet Chair appointment, which will begin in September and continues through the 2007-2008 academic year, is accompanied by an annual grant of approximately 15,000 euros that will be used to expand EUC programs and add important documents to the University Library System’s Archive of European Integration.

“Pitt’s successful bid to renew its European Union Center is all the more remarkable since the number of funded centers has dropped from 15 to 10. It is testimony to the extraordinary leadership of Alberta Sbragia that our EUC was re-funded in such a competitive environment,” said William Brustein, senior executive director of Pitt’s University Center for International Studies and a professor of sociology, political science and history.


Elizabeth A. “Betty” Berkely has been named director of career planning and alumni relations at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA), effective July 1.

Berkely is the former vice president of human resources and marketing division manager for Great American Federal in Pittsburgh.

Previously, she served PNC Bank Corp. of Pittsburgh in several roles including vice president, employee financial services; vice president, planning and administration, retail banking, and vice president, human resources manager, retail banking.

Berkely earned a B.S. and M.Ed. in English from Slippery Rock University, and an M.A. in the sociology of education and mass communications from the University of Leicester in England. She holds senior professional in human resource certification from the Society for Human Resource Management.

She has taught and lectured in the areas of human resources and career development.

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