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November 7, 2013

Pitt launches internal campaign

The University’s annual faculty and staff giving campaign kicks off today, Nov. 7, with a new online payroll pledge option via the Pitt portal.

Faculty and staff can pledge by selecting “Faculty and Staff Campaign” under the “My Resources” tab after logging in to The pledge form enables donors to select a dollar amount  — with a minimum of $1 per month  — to be deducted from their pay for up to 12 months.

Lynn Shea of the Office of Institutional Advancement (IA) said that donors can use the portal link to view their own pledge history, see a list of funds most popular among faculty and staff donors, or search for a specific fund. Donors can use the payroll pledge option to support any existing Pitt fund.

Faculty and staff also can give online at; by phone at 4-5800, or by mailing in a pledge card, which are to be sent in early November. The fundraising campaign will begin making calls to faculty and staff Nov. 19, said Joe Junker of IA.

Chris Bell, senior executive director of Pitt’s annual programs, said that his team hopes to increase both the number of donors and the total campaign amount in the FY14 campaign. “Pitt faculty and staff have been generous supporters, and their contributions provide scholarship support for our students, enhance programs in all of our schools, and help engage our alumni community,” said Bell.

Reasons for giving are as diverse as the faculty and staff who make up the University community.

Diane Mildner, who works in word processing in the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, gives to a fund that was established in memory of IA staff members whom she knew. The Susan A. Steele and Donna L. Luiso Student Resource Fund benefits non-traditional students at Pitt.

Mildner also supports the Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute for reasons even closer to her heart: Nine years ago her husband received a kidney transplant there. Their daughter was his donor. “Between my daughter and the Starzl center, they saved my husband’s life,” she said.

Each Aug. 18 — the anniversary of his transplant — the family celebrates the gift of his “new life.”

Mildner, who has worked at Pitt for more than 13 years, joined the University staff when her husband was ill. Her co-workers were “a huge, huge support for me,” she said, adding that she feels lucky not only for her job and co-workers but for the excellent medical facilities here. “For me, it’s just a personal thing. I want to give back.”

Crystal McCormick Ware, the University Library System’s coordinator for communications and diversity, directs her donations to the library system and to support Equipoise scholarships.

Equipoise is an organization of University employees that seeks to provide opportunities for African Americans.

Her desire to support students is rooted in her previous employment in Duquesne University’s admissions office, where she saw up-close how finances could impact a student’s ability to enroll. “Although some students had tremendous academic ability, they didn’t have the financial means,” she said, adding that sometimes a sum as small as $1,000 or $2,000 could make the difference. “I would hope any student who got into Pitt wouldn’t have to make a decision to come or not to come based on a lack of money.”

While she also supports other charitable organizations, Ware said she always has directed a portion of her giving to her workplace. “When you work for an organization, I think you should, as a representative of the organization, take one step beyond,” she said.

Her support for Pitt libraries, however, goes beyond her work with ULS. “I really love the library,” she said. “The library is an important resource of the University. A strong library is important to any good college. Even if I didn’t work here, I’d still give,” she said.

Rich Henderson, director of budget and financial planning in the health sciences, who earned his bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees at Pitt, and his wife Cindy, associate director for the Office of Admissions and Financial Aid, have 48 years of University employment between them. “We both love the University and want to support the University in its missions,” he said.

The bulk of their support is directed to the Panther Club Athletic Scholarship Fund, which reflects their passion for Pitt athletics and admittedly comes with the added benefit of affecting their priority ranking in seating for Pitt football and basketball games.

“We direct our dollars to support student athletes,” said Cindy Henderson, whose work includes being the financial aid office’s liaison to athletics. “We want to support the student athletes as much as we can.”

According to IA, last year more than 2,900 faculty and staff donors contributed $1.3 million to the University. Nearly 1,000 of them chose to give to specific programs and school-based funds in which they have a special interest. Many supported the general scholarship fund, which helps to ensure that the University remains accessible and affordable to its students, and the Pitt Fund, which generates funding for areas of greatest need, including student scholarships and educational programs.

A list of University employees who donated in fiscal year 2013 is at

—Kimberly K. Barlow

Filed under: Feature,Volume 46 Issue 6

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