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June 27, 2002

Dunkelman retires after 44 years

Robert E. Dunkelman, secretary of the Board of Trustees and special assistant to the chancellor since 1992, has retired following a Pitt career that spanned nearly 44 years.

At their June 20 annual meeting, Pitt trustees unanimously adopted a resolution bestowing on Dunkelman the title of Secretary Emeritus of the Corporation and the Board of Trustees. In a separate vote, trustees elected Assistant Chancellor B. Jean Ferketish as the board's new secretary.

Dunkelman earned a B.S. degree in industrial engineering at Pitt in 1954. He worked in the accounting department at Westinghouse and served two years in the U.S. Armed Forces before beginning his career at Pitt on Aug. 1, 1958, as staff assistant in the Office of Institutional Planning.

In 1961, he was named manager of budget control in the Office of Comptroller, and in 1964 he was appointed University budget director. In 1968, he became executive assistant to the provost and, later, executive assistant provost. Dunkelman was named interim senior vice chancellor for Business and Finance in 1991 and vice provost for Resource Management in 1992.

He served as executive secretary to Pitt's presidential search committee from 1990 to 1992 and chaired the senior vice chancellor for Business and Finance search committee. He was an administrative liaison to the University Senate's benefits and welfare, budget policies, and organization and procedures committees.

Dunkelman said he'd planned to retire a year ago, but was dissuaded from doing so by William S. Dietrich II, who had just been elected to his first term as chairperson of Pitt's Board of Trustees. At last week's board meeting, Dietrich said working with Dunkelman was "a critical ingredient in my taking on this task" as chairperson.

"It's been very joyful to work with Bob," Dietrich said. "I don't think we ever had a conversation that wasn't punctuated by laughter — sometimes at his expense, sometimes at my expense, occasionally at the expense of innocent bystanders. But I always looked forward to those conversations."

Chancellor Mark Nordenberg said he was a "kid dean" of the law school in the mid-1980s when he began working with Dunkelman. "Bob took me under his wing," Nordenberg said. "It is hard to imagine a professional who is more caring, more committed and more capable than Bob."

John H. Pelusi Jr., a Pitt trustee and alumnus, said Dunkelman "had a profound effect on a number of people in this room who were students at the University of Pittsburgh."

In a brief statement, Dunkelman thanked board members. "I have enjoyed working with all of you," he said, during years in which Pitt "has experienced a renaissance and has become one of the leading universities in the nation."

Guests at a June 21 reception celebrating Dunkelman's 44-year career were reminded just how eventful those years were by a slide show, "What About Bob?," that played continuously in the Cathedral of Learning's Commons Room.

For the year 1958, for example, the presentation noted: "The drive-in is the ultimate night spot for American teens," "The Chevrolet Impala is America's most popular car" and "Bob Dunkelman is hired as staff assistant in Pitt's Office of Institutional Planning." It continued like that, nearly year by year, tracking Dunkelman's career in counterpoint to such events as the construction of the Berlin Wall (and Hillman Library, the Litchfield Towers and Posvar Hall, among other Pitt buildings) to the fall of the Berlin Wall (and Pitt Stadium) to the recent openings of Sennott Square and the Petersen Events Center.

Appropriately, for an administrator universally described as a good guy, Dunkelman rode off into the west soon after the reception. He and his wife, Barb, visited the Montana ranch of former trustees chairperson J.W. Connolly.

Dunkelman's successor as board secretary, B. Jean Ferketish, came to Pitt in 1995 as director of organization development in the Office of Human Resources. In 1997, she was promoted to assistant vice chancellor for client service and organization development, and two years later was named assistant chancellor.

Ferketish earned a B.A. in journalism at Duquesne University in 1976, an M.B.A. from Pitt's Katz Graduate School of Business in 1981 and a Ph.D. from Pitt's School of Education in 1992. She worked at Westinghouse from 1978 to 1988 in positions that included communications manager for Westinghouse headquarters operations and organization quality manager for AEG Westinghouse. In the early 1990s, she was a senior consultant for Development Dimensions International.

"After a highly successful career in the corporate world, Jean made a very effective transition to the University," Chancellor Nordenberg said. "She brought special insights, experiences and talents to her work at Pitt and already has made important contributions to our overall progress."

— Bruce Steele

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