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February 20, 2014

People of the Times

Falk School, part of the School of Education, has named Jeff Suzik as the next director of the 83-year-old K-8 institution. Suzik also will hold an appointment as associate professor in the School of Education.

Currently head of school at Mounds Park Academy in St. Paul, Minn., Suzik will take over at Falk on July 1. He succeeds Wendell McConnaha, who will retire then.

Suzik has strong Pittsburgh ties, having received his master’s and doctoral degrees from Carnegie Mellon University. At Carnegie Mellon, Suzik received the Goldman Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching, directed the Center for Innovation in Learning’s World History Project, and served as a university teaching fellow at the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence.

While in the final stages of writing his dissertation, Suzik began what developed into a nine-year-long tenure at nearby Shady Side Academy in Fox Chapel. During his time there, Suzik  taught full-time in the senior school history department and later served as the department’s chairperson; lived on the senior school campus as a dorm parent in a boys’ dormitory; served as director of residential life, and was upperform dean of students.

In addition, late in his Shady Side career, Suzik was awarded an E.E. Ford Fellowship for Aspiring Heads of School.

Prior to assuming his current role at Mounds Park Academy in spring 2013, Suzik served for five years as assistant head of school at Mary Institute & St. Louis Country Day School, a preK-12 independent coeducational day school for 1,250 students in St. Louis, Mo. There Suzik oversaw the curriculum and academic program, coordinated faculty professional development and taught a number of elective courses in the upper school.

His current school, Mounds Park Academy, is a progressive preK-12 independent school serving 500 students. It is known for its hands-on, project-based approach to learning across all disciplines and grade levels, strong visual and performing arts programs, and its diverse and inclusive community.


Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has been named the recipient of the 2014 Emerging Leader Award by Pitt’s Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership.

This annual award recognizes a person who has demonstrated outstanding leadership, but is embarking on a new trajectory.

Peduto worked for 19 years on Pittsburgh City Council as a staffer and member of council representing District 8. A self-styled “reform Democrat,” he wrote a comprehensive package of government reform legislation, strengthened the ethics code, created the city’s first campaign finance limits, established lobbyist disclosure and lobbyist registration and ended no-bid contracts.

As mayor, he has launched initiatives to increase transparency and competence on his leadership team.

The award will be presented at 1 p.m. April 4 in 3911 Posvar. The ceremony is open to the public, but attendees are asked to RSVP to or call 412/648-1336.


Shanti Gamper-Rabindran has been selected for the inaugural Bley Stein Visiting Professorship at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies (AIES), a leading institute in environmental studies and research in the Middle East. She will lead a series of workshops in May in Kibbutz Ketura, Israel, on the intersection of environment, energy, health and development issues.

Gamper-Rabindran, an MIT-trained economist with a master’s in environmental management from Oxford, is a faculty member at the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs with a secondary appointment in the Department of Economics. She is among the lead faculty members spearheading the graduate degrees in environment and energy and in development and environment at GSPIA.

AIES was founded in 1996 following the Oslo agreements  as an academic and research center for environmental leadership in the Middle East.


harperPaul T. Harper, faculty member in business administration, organizations and entrepreneurship in the Katz Graduate School of Business, was featured on the Jan. 30 cover of Diverse Issues in Higher Education for his work in ethics.


Kent Nelson has been named the 2014 winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize. Nelson’s manuscript, “Spirit Bird: Short Stories,” was selected by David Guterson, author of “Snow Falling on Cedars,” from a field of 350 entries.

The collection will be published by the University of Pittsburgh Press this fall.


Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski, a faculty member in the Department of French and Italian Languages and Literatures, has been elected a fellow of the Medieval Academy of America, “in recognition of her distinguished contributions to medieval studies.” Only 125 medievalists in North America have been accorded this honor.


Billy Joe Yates, faculty member in the Department of Otolaryngology in the School of Medicine, has been elected to a three-year term as a councillor of the American Physiological Society. The council constitutes the American Physiological Society’s governing board.

Founded in 1887, the American Physiological Society is one of the oldest scientific professional societies in the United States.


H. Richard Milner IV, the Dr. Helen S. Faison Chair in Urban Education and director of the Center for Urban Education in the School of Education, was No. 89 in the 2014 RHSU edu-scholar public influence ranking released by Education Week.

The ranking recognizes university-based U.S. scholars who are contributing most substantially to public debates about education. The rankings offer a gauge of the public influence edu-scholars had in 2013. Consideration is given to both a scholar’s body of academic work — encompassing the breadth and influence of their scholarship — and his/her footprint on public discourse last year.


The Eduardo Lozano Memorial Dissertation Award was created to honor the life and work of Eduardo Lozano, who directed the Latin American collection at Hillman Library from 1967 until his death in 2006 and developed it into one of the most outstanding collections of its kind in the world.

The award is presented annually for the best doctoral dissertation at the University on a topic related to Latin America, the Caribbean, or Latin American communities in other countries. It is funded by annual contributions from the Center for Latin American Studies, the Department of Hispanic Languages and Literatures, and donations to the Eduardo Lozano Memorial Dissertation Award Fund.

For 2012-13, the award was presented to Nicole Bourbonnais,  history, for her dissertation “Out of the Boudoir and Into the Banana Walk: Birth Control and Reproductive Politics in the West Indies, 1930-1970.”

The award committee also awarded an honorable mention to Hirokazu Kikuchi, political science, for his dissertation, titled, “Federalism and the Limits of Presidential Powers: The Case of the Argentine Senate.”

This year’s dissertations were evaluated by John Beverley, Hispanic languages and literatures; John Markoff, sociology, and Marla Ripoll, economics.


Children’s Hospital has recruited surgeon Luis De la Torre to establish the new Colorectal Center for Children that will serve as a resource for children from around the world with complex colorectal issues. He also will serve as a faculty member in the School of Medicine.

The center will provide multidisciplinary medical and surgical care for children who are born with or acquire issues of the bowel or rectum.

De la Torre, who pioneered a less invasive surgical approach to the treatment of Hirschsprung’s disease, specializes in the diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of children with complex colorectal conditions.

De la Torre comes from Hospital Ángeles Puebla in Mexico, where he was founding director of the Colorectal Center for Children and chief of pediatric surgery.

He completed his residency in pediatrics and pediatric surgery at the Instituto Nacional de Pediatría at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, a hospital known for contributions in the field of pediatric colorectal surgery.

He also completed a fellowship in pediatric colorectal surgery at Schneider Children’s Hospital Medical Center.


The People of the Times column features recent news on faculty and staff, including awards and other honors, accomplishments and administrative appointments.

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