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April 27, 2006


Kevin Kearns, associate professor of public affairs and director of the Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, has been awarded the Fulbright-Masaryk Award for non-governmental organization (NGO) management. The award is given by the Fulbright Program, which is sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and provides support to U.S. faculty to teach undergraduate or graduate courses, conduct research in areas of specialization and/or consult with nonprofit organizations in the Czech Republic.

While in the Czech Republic, Kearns will be affiliated with two institutions. His primary affiliation will be with Charles University, the oldest university in Eastern Europe, and he will have a secondary appointment at the University of Economics, which is a leading school of business and economics. Kearns will teach courses in NGO management, strategy, leadership and human resource development.


Jody Burgert, assistant professor of teacher education at the Bradford campus, has received this year’s Chairs’ Faculty Teaching Award for excellence in teaching. Burgert received the award during UPB’s annual honors convocation held on April 13.

Burgert was chosen for the award by the chairs of Pitt-Bradford’s five academic divisions. In choosing an award recipient, the chairs reviewed letters of recommendation, student evaluations of teaching, syllabi and grade distribution. The chairs also considered the teachers’ knowledge of subject matter and their advising and dedication in working with students beyond the classroom in such activities as internships and research projects.

Burgert began her career at Pitt-Bradford as a part-time composition instructor in 1984, was the director of the Academic Success Center and has been program director for teacher education since 1996.

In 2002, she spent five months in Japan, where she studied the Japanese educational system from preschool through 12th grade. A year later, she was one of 20 educators in the United States to receive a national Sasakawa Fellowship, which enabled her to attend an institute at San Diego State University to help her incorporate Japanese studies into the curriculum.

In 2003, Burgert was appointed to represent Pennsylvania’s state-related universities on a commission to examine and study the state of rural education and make recommendations for enhancing the quality of education.

Burgert has conducted and presented research to fellow educators on various topics, including student learning styles and behaviors, and freshman studies. Last year, she presented research on reading, including how to expose students to literature related to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.

Burgert has a doctorate in English education from Pitt, which she received in 1999. She also earned a master’s degree in English in 1984 and a bachelor’s degree in communication arts in 1982, both from Clarion University.


Richard Bjerke, associate professor in the medical school’s Department of Anesthesiology, was awarded the Outstanding Specialty Care Physician Award of the Year by the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System.

Bjerke was recognized for his exemplary leadership, high professional and clinical standards and commitment to putting veterans first.

Bjerke facilitated the development of several new state-of-the-art clinical programs that have improved the quality and safety of health care delivery for veterans.


Melissa Somma, assistant professor of pharmacy and therapeutics in Pitt’s pharmacy school, has been invited to serve on the American Pharmaceutical Association and National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation steering committee for the development of a national medication therapy management (MTM) training program.

The program is being designed in an effort to provide practicing pharmacists with tools needed to establish MTM services in community-based pharmacies.

Somma also serves as the director of the Rite Aid/University of Pittsburgh Patient Care Initiative and holds an appointment in the School of Medicine.


Kong Ho, assistant professor of art at Pitt-Bradford, and his wife, Martie Geiger-Ho, instructor of art, were awarded fellowships to work this summer at Hong Kong Baptist University.

Ho and Geiger-Ho will work at the university’s Academy of Visual Arts where they will conduct research and work with faculty and students to create two new art programs. They will return to Hong Kong in December to finish up the final month of their fellowships.

Each received a stipend and travel allowance to help them with expenses during their five-month tenures as university fellows.

While Ho is in Hong Kong, he will help set up a new printmaking studio. Ho will be responsible for ordering all of the equipment for the new studio and will make sure that it is installed correctly and ready for the students to use.

Ho also will take part in a research project, “Eastern and Western Fusions: Exploring Chinese Jade Art and Philosophy,” which is being funded by the China studies research travel grant and is a continuation of another research project that he will conduct on jade in Taiwan. The grant will support Ho’s travel to Taiwan, where he will conduct research at the National Palace Museum, the National Museum of History and the Taipei Fine Arts Museum.

Geiger-Ho will help to establish a new ceramics program, including setting up the new ceramics studio and ordering ceramic equipment such as kilns and potter’s wheels. She also will share her knowledge and experience on how to organize and teach ceramic classes.

Geiger-Ho also will be researching Chinese kiln mythology and worship practices.

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