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April 17, 2014

Sustainability initiative funded

To mark the 10th anniversary of Pitt’s Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation, University officials have announced a $37.5 million funding initiative to extend sustainability efforts throughout Pitt’s academics and research.

Funding for the initiatives will come from several endowments as well as from alumni John C. “Jack” Mascaro, founder and chair of Mascaro Construction Co., and John A. Swanson, founder of ANSYS.

Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor Patricia Beeson said: “Jack Mascaro’s initial gift helped to establish our first academic sustainability programs at the Swanson School of Engineering, through the Mascaro Center for Sustainable Innovation. Over this past decade, the Mascaro center and the Swanson school have successfully developed an educational and research model that can serve as the foundation for impact throughout the greater University of Pittsburgh community.”

According to the provost, the newly committed resources will bring the total to approximately $60 million of support for sustainability since the Mascaro center’s founding 10 years ago.

The initiative is being led, in part, by the provost’s sustainability task force, which comprises faculty representatives from across campus. This task force, led by Eric J. Beckman, who is MCSI’s codirector and the George M. Bevier Professor of Engineering, is charged with three goals: to catalyze interdisciplinary sustainability research; to enrich the undergraduate and graduate program offerings in the area of sustainability, and to further enhance Pitt’s national recognition in sustainability.

The task force, formed in fall 2013, has developed plans to expand the University’s curricular offerings in sustainability to include a campus-wide certificate for undergraduate students and a set of master’s-level degree programs that will have a broad focus in engineering, business and public policy.

The Swanson school, which was able to expand its Benedum Hall facilities beginning in 2007 through gifts from both Mascaro and Swanson, will continue to serve as the Mascaro center’s physical home.

In March, Pitt released its first Report on Sustainability, which described its sustainability efforts in education and research and throughout the community-at-large.

The report included data on measurable outcomes from energy conservation and emissions reductions to sustainable purchasing and student housing, as well as current academic programs and efforts to improve the quality of life in Oakland and other Pittsburgh neighborhoods.