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February 21, 2002

Masonic Temple renamed Alumni Hall

What used to be called the Masonic Temple is now Alumni Hall.

In voting to rename the Fifth Avenue building on Feb. 14, Pitt trustees said the change recognizes "the devotion, support and esteem of the University of Pittsburgh alumni."

Pitt acquired the Masonic Temple in 1993 and completed a $16 million renovation in 2000. Constructed in 1915, the building is a Pittsburgh historic landmark.

It houses the alumni relations office and alumni center, the admissions and financial aid office, the community and governmental relations office, the Katz Graduate School of Business's Mellon Financial Corporation Hall and the part of the Center for Instructional De-velopment and Distance Education. The Kuntu Repertory Theater, among other campus organizations, performs in the building's seventh-floor auditorium.

The new Alumni Hall is not to be confused with Pitt's Eberly Hall, which was called Alumni Hall prior to being renamed in September 1998 in recognition of the Eberly family's long-time financial support of the University.

Also at the Board of Trustees' winter meeting, the board adopted a revised method for electing alumni trustees — over the objections of alumni trustee Woody Turner.

Under the new process, two of the board's six alumni trustees will be the two immediate past presidents of the Pitt Alumni Association. The remaining four will be nominated by the Board of Trustees' nominating committee from candidates identified by that committee and the alumni association's nominating committee.

Turner, the only trustee who voted against the change, protested that it took away the alumni association's traditional prerogative of nominating all six alumni trustees. While noting that the alumni association's executive committee had endorsed the new election process, Turner said: "I submit to you that the alumni association board of directors hasn't even been informed of this proposed change, let alone had a majority vote in favor of it."

Turner, a former alumni association president, pleaded unsuccessfully with his fellow Pitt trustees to delay voting on the new procedure until after the March 2 meeting of the alumni association's board. "It's very nice to rename the Masonic Temple as Alumni Hall," Turner said, "but it also would be nice to slow things down to give the alumni association's board and this [Pitt] board a better opportunity to discuss this change."

Current alumni association president Sam Zacharias, Pitt trustees chairperson William Dietrich and Chancellor Mark Nordenberg all said the new process was intended to "spread the net" in recruiting alumni trustees and to foster greater collaboration between the nominating committees of the alumni association and Pitt's board.

Association leaders and Pitt trustees discussed the change "at great length," Dietrich said, while Nordenberg noted that the trustees' nominating committee always has had the power to accept or reject alumni trustee candidates proposed by the alumni association.

Under the new process, the association's nominating committee "will continue to have as much input into the selection process for the six nominees as it always has had," Zacharias said.

In other business at the Feb. 14 meeting:

* Chancellor Nordenberg reported that Pitt attracted $405 million in sponsored research support during calendar year 2001, a 75 percent increase since 1995.

* The board elected two new members as special trustees — Michael A. Bryson, executive vice president and treasurer, Mellon Financial Corp., and Catherine De Angelis, editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Two special trustees were named as term trustees — John H. Pelusi Jr., president and CEO, Holliday Fenoglio Fowler, L.P., and William E. Strickland, founder and executive director of the Manchester Craftsmen's Guild. Term trustees can vote at meetings of the full Board of Trustees as well as committee meetings. Special trustees can vote only at committee meetings. Traditionally, new members of Pitt's board join as special trustees.

Richard P. Simmons, a Pitt trustee from 1986 to 1992, was elected an emeritus trustee. Simmons is retired chairman, president and CEO of Allegheny Technologies, Inc. (formerly Allegheny Teledyne).

* Board members established a trustees retirement policy, under which no term, special or alumni trustee may be elected after age 72. Trustees who reach age 72 may serve out their terms but are ineligible for re-election.

* Under another bylaws change, the board chairperson now will preside over meetings of the trustees' conflict of interest committee. Previously, the chairperson had presided only at meetings of the full board and its executive committee.

* The board approved promotions for two long-term staff members in the Office of the Secretary of the Board of Trustees. Mary Lou Rosborough is now executive associate secretary and Kimberly L. Honath is associate secretary of the University and its board.

— Bruce Steele

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