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August 30, 2012

What’s New at Pitt: Things

The hustle and bustle that marks the beginning of the academic year has returned: The proliferation of laundry carts, redirected traffic, upperclass student volunteers pointing the way to newcomers and their families during Arrival Survival.

But for many at Pitt, the hazy days of summer have been anything but lazy: Facilities were renovated; faculty and staff came and went; academic programs were established.

The University Times asked deans and other school officials to provide a brief look at “What’s New? People, Places and Things” in their areas. The summaries that follow are not all-encompassing, but rather are overviews of school news based on material submitted by the units. Information previously published in the University Times was not included here.

The listings were coordinated by Kimberly K. Barlow.


The Katz Graduate School of Business MBA curriculum has been revised. The program offers include flexibility in the core curriculum that enables students to take more electives in their area of concentration or in a certificate program by requiring fewer core courses.

The program’s management simulation incorporates experience-based learning, globalism and team leadership skills.

New certificates include global management; corporate valuation; corporate financial management; investments and trading, and project management. A digital marketing certificate is expected to be launched in the spring.


Pitt-Greensburg’s athletic department has launched a new web site. Powered by Sidearm Sports, it is designed to showcase UPG’s NCAA Division III athletic teams and provide a more interactive experience. New features include a fan zone with links to the Athletics YouTube Channel, Facebook, Twitter, live video broadcast and photo galleries. Bobcat fans may access the athletics web site by visiting


The Department of Religious Studies is offering four new courses this term:

• “Religious Themes in American Literature,” taught by M. Cooper Harriss, focuses on two related themes: hauntedness (ghosts as well as seemingly inescapable legacies, destinies or inheritances) and nothingness, which characterizes religious speculations about the uncertainty of what resides (or does not reside) beyond the limits of human perception, knowledge and understanding.

• “Jerusalem — History and Imagination,” taught by Jason von Ehrenkrook, focuses on the city that remains both a magnet for cultic devotion and an epicenter of religious conflict.

• “Jews and the City,” taught by Rachel Kranson, traces the 19th-century Eastern European Jewish diaspora to urban destinations around the world.

• “Guide for the Perplexed,” taught by Tony Edwards, examines 12th-century Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides’s work, “The Guide for the Perplexed.” The book influenced thinkers such as Aquinas, Spinoza, Leibniz and Newton, and is valued for its insight into questions of religion and rationality.


Women’s studies senior lecturer and undergraduate adviser Frayda Cohen led the Pitt-in-China program during the 6-week-2 summer session. It is the first time the PIC program was led by a faculty member from women’s studies and conducted in Beijing.


The women’s studies program will mark its 40th anniversary in October with a series of lectures and events.  A complete schedule will be posted at

Launched in 1972, the program was among the earliest in the nation. Today, students can earn graduate and undergraduate certificates in the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality through women’s studies courses as well as gender courses offered by the 60 affiliated faculty members from diverse disciplines throughout the University. The program supports faculty and student research projects and sponsors the Iris Marion Young Award for Political Engagement.


The Jewish studies program is coordinating the public programming for The Squirrel Hill Project, a one-year initiative featuring community events and academic projects.

The series is funded through a grant from Legacy Heritage Jewish Studies Project, directed by the Association for Jewish Studies, and additional support from the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, the Giant Eagle Endowment for Community Outreach in the Jewish Studies Program, the Heinz History Center and the Jewish Community Center.

Events are part of the calendar at

Pitt and CMU history and Jewish studies faculty member Barbara Burstin will present the lecture “When the Jews Met the Squirrels:  Origins and Overview,” at 6 p.m. Oct. 14 at the Jewish Community Center, Squirrel Hill.


The Department of Computer Science is involved in two new initiatives to increase diversity. It has become a bronze sponsor of the 2012 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women and Computing and now is an academic alliance member of the National Center for Women & Information Technology, a coalition that works to increase diversity in IT and computing.

The academic alliance consists of more than 400 representatives from the computer science and IT departments of nearly 200 colleges and universities across the country.


The University Honors College has expanded its Brackenridge summer undergraduate research program into the fall and spring terms. The inaugural group of fall Brackenridge Fellows had 37 members, and the program ran again in the spring with 39 Fellows. Students received $800 for the term and academic credit, and they attended seminar-style presentations and discussions of student and faculty research.


The School of Social Work’s continuing education program will offer a training series on advocacy and lobbying for nonprofit organizations on Friday mornings in September. Alumnus and human services executive David Coplan and guest presenters will help nonprofit organizations to engage in effective public policy advocacy and lobbying on behalf of their missions and the people they serve, as well as support them in better engaging their board and constituencies in those advocacy and lobbying efforts.

Information is online at

The School of Social Work BASW program is introducing The Browne leadership fellows program, an interdisciplinary fellowship aimed at preparing students to be engaged civic leaders working for economic and social justice. Students from all disciplines may apply.

The fellowship will run each spring and summer term. In spring students enroll in a monthly 1-credit seminar to discuss social justice and policy issues with regional experts and their course instructor.

During the summer term, students will have internships in communities and neighborhoods in the Pittsburgh region and will receive a $3,000 stipend to cover living costs.


The Pitt-Johnstown athletics program has accepted an invitation to join the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference and will begin competition in the PSAC during the 2013-14 athletic season.

The PSAC is the largest one-state conference in the National Collegiate Athletic Association. It is also the largest conference in NCAA Division II. With the addition of UPJ and Seton Hill University, PSAC now has 18 member schools.

UPJ will field women’s teams in basketball, cross country, golf, indoor and outdoor track and field, soccer and volleyball and men’s teams in baseball, basketball, golf, soccer and wrestling.

UPJ currently is a member of the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, which it joined in 2007. In June, nine football-playing members of the WVIAC announced they would be leaving the league to form their own conference, creating the opportunity for Pitt-Johnstown to pursue other conference options.


Serenity House on the Titusville campus.

Serenity House on the Titusville campus.

On Aug. 26 Pitt-Titusville dedicated the Serenity House and the Walter Scott Kriner Family Scholarship Fund in memory of former UPT student Scott Kriner, who died in 2009.

Kriner attended UPT 1972-74 then graduated from the Pittsburgh campus in 1976 before beginning a career in the insurance business. He served on the Pitt-Titusville Alumni Association Board and the Pitt Alumni Association’s Regional Board of Directors.

Kriner’s bequest renovated the former summer house on the UPT campus. Now the Serenity House, the building will be used for student organization meetings, campus gatherings and small study groups.


The Center for Instructional Development and Distance Education is offering workshops to support the needs of adjunct faculty. Details are at

Other new CIDDE workshops for the fall term are listed at

Information on CIDDE’s fall book discussion and a special workshop on the POGIL method of teaching will be posted at


The School of Nursing MSN informatics program will be offered through Pitt Online starting this fall.

Nursing informatics blends aspects of cognitive science, computer science, information science and nursing science to develop, analyze and evaluate information systems augmented by technology to support and enhance the management of patient care.


Plastic surgery has been granted department status at the School of Medicine, completing its evolution from a division under the Department of Surgery. The new department, launched in July, is led by J. Peter Rubin.


Under an agreement between China’s Tsinghua University and the School of Medicine, 21 Tsinghua MD and PhD students arrived in Pittsburgh in August.

As part of their education in Tsinghua’s experimental eight-year curriculum, these students will spend two years in Pittsburgh for training in biomedical research.

While the focus of this collaboration is on the students, Pitt and Tsinghua faculty members also will be able to apply to spend up to a year at each other’s institution as visiting scholars.


Beginning with the 2012-13 academic year, student opinion of teaching surveys will be available for administration online. The surveys will be administered exclusively online starting in 2013-14. Detailed information is at


The School of Information Sciences will have more than 30 students enrolled in the first cohort of its Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program through Pitt Online. The school, which has offered an online version of its ALA-accredited MLIS degree program for more than a decade, has transitioned the program to the University’s Pitt Online delivery system.

Support services have been designed to provide a learning environment through virtual access to the University’s comprehensive digital library, to a wide range of instructional materials and to advising. For more information about the program, visit


The School of Information Sciences will co-sponsor an international conference on collaborative computing, CollaborateCom 2012, Oct. 14-17 in Pittsburgh.

The event is an international forum for academic and industrial researchers, practitioners and students interested in collaborative networking; technology and systems, and applications. Faculty member James Joshi is the conference’s general chair and a member of the steering committee.

Faculty member Konstantinos Pelechrinis and PhD student Amirreza Masoumzadeh are members of the conference’s organizing committee.

For information visit


The Computational Chemical Genomics Screening Center has been approved with Xiang-Qun (Sean) Xie as its founding director.

The center’s goal is to build a research/teaching platform and collaboration services by providing new exploratory computational tools/algorithms and chemical libraries resources in a chemical genomics scale for in-silico drug design and discovery. The objective is the more rapid identification of novel drug-like molecules, lead compounds and their associated biological targets.

The center will promote interdisciplinary research.


Two new areas of concentration have been approved in the Doctor of Pharmacy program:

The Area of Concentration in Research (ARCO- RES) exposes students to research fundamentals and aims to cultivate an appreciation for clinical and translational research. It positions students as candidates for formal post-PharmD research education and training in PhD or fellowship programs. ARCO-RES is led by the faculty team of Tom D. Nolin, Samuel M. Poloyac, Kerry M. Empey and Philip E. Empey.

The Area of Concentration in Global Health (ARCO-GH) exposes students to global health problems and aims to develop cultural sensitivity and basic knowledge of international health systems and agencies. Students have the opportunity to participate in internships and rotations in Africa, the Caribbean, South America and Asia, and in special projects in the United States.

ARCO-GH is led by the faculty team of Sharon Connor, M. Margaret Folan, Heather Johnson, Lauren Jonkman and Raman Venkataramanan.


Pharmacy now offers a non-thesis Master of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences. The degree program, which is designed to be completed in one year, was developed to meet demand for advanced knowledge by graduates seeking positions in the pharmaceutical industry, cosmetics, industrial pharmacy, government regulatory agencies and university-based laboratories.

Faculty members Vinayak Sant and Maggie Folan will lead the program.


For the third year in a row, Pitt-Johnstown has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

The honor roll, administered through the Corporation for National and Community Service, is the highest federal recognition that a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement.

During the 2010-11 academic year, the period for which the school is being recognized, UPJ students, faculty and staff performed more than 11,500 hours of service.


The Swanson School of Engineering has launched several new web sites including: the Center for Medical Innovation at; the Coulter Translational Research Partners II Program at; the Electric Power Industry Conference at; the Engineering Education Research Center at, and the nuclear engineering program at


The Swanson School of Engineering has been named the top-ranked U.S. school in the percentage of doctoral degrees awarded to women in engineering, with 38.6 percent.

The rankings, based on 2010-11 data, were released earlier this month in the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) 2010-11 Profiles of Engineering and Engineering Technology Colleges.

Pitt had been second in the two previous annual reports.

In the most recent ranking, Pitt was followed by Johns Hopkins, the University of California-Santa Cruz, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Stevens Institute of Technology and Penn.


The new G. Alec Stewart Prize for junior undergraduate students will be awarded in recognition of the founding dean of the University Honors College. The qualities to be considered include academic attainment, generosity of spirit and participation in UHC courses and/or research programs.


Beginning this fall, the Office of Career Development and Placement Assistance (CDPA) will offer an internship guarantee. This provost-sponsored initiative guarantees students who complete the internship preparation program and related requirements placement in at least one internship or other experiential learning opportunity such as research, lab experience or co-op.

The internship preparation program begins with an hour-long group session in which networking, resume, interview and internship search skills will be presented and practiced. Participants then meet with a career consultant for a resume review and a mock interview where they will receive individualized feedback.


This year, the University Center for International Studies’ certificate in West European studies program plans to begin advertising tracks in contemporary European history and politics and Irish studies.


The European Union Center of Excellence/European Studies Center has begun publication of a series of freestanding anonymously refereed scholarly papers devoted to the European Union.

The first of the Pittsburgh Papers, released Aug. 15, is “The Shaping of EU-Mercosur Relations” by Carolyn Dudek of Hofstra University.

The series, edited by Alberta Sbragia, vice provost for Graduate Studies, is published electronically through the University Library System. Papers are available free of charge.


Beginning in the spring 2013 term, the Department of French and Italian Languages and Literatures and the Study Abroad Office will offer a semester-long study-abroad program in Florence, Italy. Run by faculty member Dennis Looney, the Pitt in Florence program offers both Pitt and non-Pitt students an opportunity to earn credits in a variety of subjects, with instruction in both English and Italian. For information visit

Summer “Panther program” offerings in Italy will expand to two sites this year, Rome and Turin.


The computer science department recently concluded its technology leadership initiative that provided underrepresented and underserved students in grades 7-11 with opportunities, tools and motivation needed to pursue computer science-related degrees and excel academically, socially and professionally. Students learned how to write code, build a web site, build and program a robot, as well as disassemble and reassemble a computer.

A Taste of Wine and Research” is a new event designed for computer science alumni, faculty, graduate students and industry advisory board members to network while enjoying wine and hors d’oeuvres. Faculty will discuss their current research. The event will be held 6-8 p.m. Oct. 12 in Sennott Square.


The Pennsylvania Child Welfare Training Program has changed its name to The Pennsylvania Child Welfare Resource Center (CWRC). Over the years, the program has grown by expanding components such as organizational effectiveness, family and youth engagement, transfer of learning, continuous quality improvement, and research and evaluation. The new name aims to enhance the additional efforts the program staff facilitate and deliver for the Pennsylvania child welfare system.

The CWRC has created a new online curriculum series, child advocacy studies, to develop awareness and knowledge among current and future child advocates of the various factors that lead to child maltreatment as well as to promote collaboration among various professional disciplines.

Information on CWRC is available at


Ricoh USA has been selected as the University’s preferred service provider for managed print services (MPS). Ricoh will be working with individual departments to assess current use and needs.

The MPS program includes copiers, scanners, printers, fax and wide-format printers and will employ the most current document output strategies and multiple image device equipment. The devices are expected to reduce departments’ copying and printing costs while improving operating efficiency.


Alumna Hali Felt, author of “Soundings: The Story of the Remarkable Woman Who Mapped the Ocean Floor,” will offer two non-credit undergraduate workshops on science writing for the general public and how to incorporate archival research into science writing.  Workshops are sponsored by the Academic Resource Center. For information, call 8-7920.


Frank Tuitt, associate professor of higher education and associate provost for inclusive excellence at the University of Denver, is scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences’ third annual African-American Student Retention Symposium. The event is set for 9 a.m. Sept. 14.


The exhibition “Faces to Names: 225 Years of Pitt Chancellors’ Portraits (1787-2012)” will be presented at the University Art Gallery in the Frick Fine Arts Building Sept. 11-Oct. 14.


The Pitt-Bradford alumni association has a new web site at PBAA Online allows alumni to post updates to class notes, jobs and internships; look for, register and pay for events; find friends and classmates; request a transcript; follow Pitt-Bradford news or sign up for the alumni email newsletter, Panther Tracks.


The Internet bandwidth capacity for faculty and staff has been doubled on the Pittsburgh campus. To support delivery of advanced network services, PittNet connections to campus buildings have been upgraded to handle 10GB.


Computing Services and Systems Development is offering Enterprise Digital Signage software to University departments for the creation and management of digital signs. The software allows departments to publish almost any type of content, including video, web pages, PowerPoint slides, maps, Twitter feeds, live data, PDFs and more. Departments can publish content to their own digital signs and then share that content on other departments’ digital signs.


Students, faculty and staff can purchase iMovie, Keynote, Pages and other Apple mobile device apps at a discounted price. University departments also can purchase Apple desktop apps directly through Software Distribution Services at a discount when ordering quantities of 20 or more. Visit for details.


The new Faculty Information System provides a secure, web-based resource for creating annual reports, CVs, online profiles and other documents important to academic careers. It also provides a simple way to search for faculty colleagues based on research interests. Log in to and click the Faculty Information System link to get started.


In response to suggestions, new self-service printing stations will be added in the William Pitt Union, Sennott Square, Posvar Hall, Bruce Hall, Bouquet Gardens, Ruskin Hall and Forbes Hall. An additional self-service printing station will be added at Litchfield Towers, and a Sutherland Hall station will be moved from the computing lab to the main lobby.


The Graduate School of Public Health has chosen “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson as its One Book, One Community selection for the 2012-13 academic year. “Silent Spring” was first published 50 years ago, and the public outcry following its release is credited with sparking serious environmental change.


GSPH has added two certificate programs: The certificate in health care systems engineering and associated MHA degree prepares students for employment in roles such as health care manager, health systems analyst, health care information technology consultant and technology implementation specialist.

The certificate in health systems leadership and management encompasses coursework in health care finance, health policy analysis, quality assessment and the strategic management of health care organizations.


University purchasers have a new procurement system that will be rolled out University-wide over the next year. The PantherBuy procurement system has been expanded and earlier this month was renamed the PantherExpress System.

Starting in September, the system will be implemented in several pilot departments with other departments transitioning over time.

New features include:

• A single sign-on point from

• One-stop shopping and payment request.

• The ability to submit special orders, quotes and blanket orders.

• The ability to submit attachments online.

Updates and more details on the changes are at

The expansion is the result of a yearlong project that included representatives from 25 of the largest departments that use PRISM and PantherBuy in conjunction with the PantherBuy team, Payment Processing and Purchasing Services.


Athletics has launched the Pitt Live Wire blog ( Updated daily, the blog includes Pitt Athletics news and behind-the-scenes footage and information.


The Department of Computer Science will offer a new introductory course, “Computers, Sustainability,” in the spring. The course encourages students to describe, interpret and evaluate the impact of computer technology on the environment.


A new major in mathematical biology will help students develop expertise in thinking mathematically about biological systems. Students will acquire fundamental skills in mathematical analysis and simulation, specialized experience in mathematical modeling in biology and neuroscience and knowledge of particular areas of biology. These tools will prepare students to participate in undergraduate research and to go on to use quantitative methods in biotechnology, medicine and other fields.


The music department has several new courses:

•  “Animal Musicality: Sound, Science, and Posthuman Aesthetics,” taught by Rachel Mundy, explores the way musical ideas about sound have shaped enduring definitions of what it means to be an “animal.”

• “Music and Materiality,” taught by Gavin Steingo, examines music’s materiality from perspectives including Marxism, organology, science and technology studies, anthropology of the senses, ecomusicology and actor-network-theory.

• Emily Zazulia will lead the course “Reason, Ritual and Representation.” The class explores music of the 15th and 16th centuries, emphasizing changing approaches to composition, expression and aesthetics.


Filed under: Feature,Volume 45 Issue 1

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